I love a chunky shoe. They provide resounding punctuation to an outfit that would otherwise peter out as it approached the ground. I am deaf to complaints that they are ugly, or “old lady” shoes. How boring, to only find pretty things aesthetically pleasing! Plus, the term “old lady” holds virtually no meaning for me, least of all in the context of getting dressed.
This year I was severely lusting after the Prada Spazzolato oxfords with the flower appliqué. At an eye-watering US$1350, I stalked them from a distance, but when the planets aligned and Neiman Marcus discounted them to less than half price in my size, I leapt.
The extended angular sole, the appliqué details, the classic colour scheme all contribute to my deep satisfaction when I put these on. Some reviewers complain that they are heavy – I don’t find them heavy, but the sole is extremely stiff. Until it flexes you walk flatfooted like a clown. Other than that they are comfortable and not causing any blisters when worn with a sock or woolly tights. I don’t know how girls manage to wear oxfords with bare feet. I can’t imagine being able to walk more than a few steps before chafing would set in. Also, a sock is there not only to protect your foot from the shoe, but to protect the shoe from your foot. I like how bare legs look without being cut off by a sock, but with these shoes I don’t think I’ll achieve it.
There was a purple version that I was also much enamoured of. The colours are so louche! Yet they remained beyond my reach… we’re already talking price tags that most sane individuals would refuse to contemplate, and full price for these was beyond even my particular brand of insanity.
Obviously, the masculine shape and dandyish pattern lends itself to trousers, but I’m in the mood to wear them with a skirt and have the full effect dangling from the end of my leg.
From left to right
Pleated scarf – unknown origin
Grey chunky knit cardigan – Mint
Brooch – vintage
Laser cut “feather” skirt – Reiss
Grey tights – Tabio
Flower applique oxfords – Prada – AW12
Pale grey skinny cashmere cardigan – Rag and Bone
Grey jersey dress – Lisa Ho
Tights and shoes – as before
Grey cashmere sweater with extended cuff and puff sleeves – Jaeger
Black neoprene pencil skirt with zipper – Karen Millen
Tights and shoes – as before
Grey jersey strand scarf – Necklush
Black cashmere crew-neck sweater – Hayden via Bluefly
Grey jersey draper long skirt – Rick Owens Lilies
Tights and shoes as before
This is the simplest of the outfits, and normally a black skirt and a grey sweater would be rather boring, but with the bass note from the shoe I rather like it.
Detail of the laser-cut skirt
Detail of the brooch holding the cardigan closed. This is a very typical traditional brooch in Holland. It’s a kind of filigree called cannetille, apparently inspired by the embroidery of peasants’ garments. One like it is on sale on Etsy.
Detail of the pleated scarf. I don’t remember where I got this, but it was probably somewhere like the Peruvian Connection. There was a store in Boston selling lots of garish knitwear but they did have a lot of nice scarves. The link goes to a similar scarf which is presently unavailable, but they may do something similar when they get their summer stock in. There are some options with interesting texture available now in the winter collection.
Detail of the jersey dress neckline. I bought this Lisa Ho dress in Melbourne, Australia some years ago. The drape at the neckline makes it unusually flattering over large breasts, and I liked the raw edge of the silk trim on one side. This is a great dress for understated chic – you’re in grey jersey so you’re obviously not trying very hard but the cut and the details put you outside of blah-dom.
Detail of the Necklush scarf. These come in dozens of colours and different thicknesses. They’re a great way to add texture to an outfit and are less dressy than a scarf.
Detail of the Rick Owens Lilies skirt. I usually wear this in the summer when I’m in the mood for something a little grungy, a little floaty. Then I combine it with bone-colour military boots. The draping toward the hem makes it more interesting than a typical tubular jersey skirt. It would never have occurred to me to wear this piece to work but with tights and a clumpy shoe, I find the effect long, lean, low-key and a little bit arty. Not for a day with managers but good for a day with designers.