In general, this is an area where we tend to go our separate ways. Don’t get us wrong – we both wear heels and flats. But Kate is, in general, a flats girl and Jeanne mostly goes for heels. Kate likes the look of flats – they are more comfortable and still stylish – but she is trying to wear heels more often than just to weddings. Jeanne, on the other hand, likes that heels make her taller and make her feel stylish. However, the evidence shows that both flats and 4″ heels are bad for us.
We’ve all heard of the dangers of high heels: they can cause bunions, ingrown toenails, callouses and blisters. And, for women of a certain age, our balance isn’t as good as it used to be AND our bones are less strong, so falling off high heels is a bigger danger. Take a look at this depressing graph published in the Washington Post. Aside from foot health, however, extreme heels can take a stylish accessory into the territory of ridiculous and age-inappropriate. Here are some examples of cute shoes gone bad:
Extremely flat shoes are also very bad for your feet. After wearing flats exclusively, the feet get used to being flattened, and tendinitis and arch pain can develop. So, while they seem very comfortable, flats are also doing a number on your feet. You might ask yourself, “What option is left?” Good question. The answer is heels of 0.75″ to 2″ – basically a kitten heel. However, we all know that the temptation for cute flats or sexy pumps can be irresistible.
So what are stylish women to do? We have a few tips that may help you navigate the fabulous shoe issue.
1) Wear a variety of footwear, not the same heel height or flat day in and day out. In the case of feet and style, variety is a good thing.
2) Include wedges and kitten heels in your shoe wardrobe. Both are stylish and may well fall into the 0.75″ to 2″ guidelines. Even wedges that are higher than that may be comfortable for flats wearers and older glamazons because the wedge design is more secure and comfortable to wear.
3) Exercise some smart discipline when you do shop for shoes, especially if you are an older fashionista:
- Whether you order it online or shop in a store, if the shoe is not comfortable, DO NOT BUY IT. We’ve heard all about trying shoes on in the morning or the evening, blah blah blah. If it is uncomfortable now, it will be torturous later.
- Decide, through trial and error and trying on lots of shoes (always fun), what heel height or flatness works for you. Stick with those and don’t go outside your comfort parameters. If you shop at a store, take a tape measure and measure the platform and heel height. If you shop online, use the filters available on Zappos, Piperlime and other sites to set your parameters. If you are older than 55, eliminate any heel over 4.5″ or platform over 1″. If you are younger, comfort should dictate your choices, although some styles are meant only for people like Courtney Stoddard and Lady Gaga no matter if they are comfortable or not.
- Buy simple orthotic inserts for your flats that raise your heel slightly. You may have to cut the insert to size, but its a small price to pay for more comfort and better health.
So much for the advice. To close, here are some of OUR favorite heels and flats this season.
Haven’t we each had a plaid blazer at one time or another? A plaid blazer can be the best wardrobe item or the very worst piece of clothing ever. They remind some of us of hated school uniforms or anything else our mothers made us wear, and others of happy weekends shooting grouse or riding to the hunt in the English countryside (people do that, right?).
The very BEST plaid blazers: fit extremely well, complement the rest of your wardrobe, and function as perfect fall outerwear and as a sweater alternative in the winter.
The WORST blazers (and we’re experts on this, just you wait): usually too big in the sleeve, the length or across the chest, simply bad plaid and often made out of cheap fabric.
We have both had our share of plaid blazers. These two pictures are from the early 90s and could qualify as the ugliest plaid blazers ever. Kate was 8 years old here and Jeanne remembers that she was determined to wear this blazer for her school picture. It lives on in infamy in every photo collection and framed on the wall. She does look pretty darn cute though, right? Maybe being young can make even the ugliest style choices warm your heart.
Jeanne’s, we believe, was from Nordstrom Rack and she truly thought it was the height of fashion (she thinks, but cannot be sure, that it had a matching box pleated skirt). See her trendily wearing it with high-waisted jeans and a turtleneck. Both blazers hit the mark for WORST: ugly synthetic plaid, BIG shoulder pads, much too long.
Plaid blazers are back in style this year. The best ones are nipped at the waist and are a little whimsical, in our opinion. The memory of our last plaid blazers will likely keep Kate and me from buying one this year, but we have definitely learned our lesson for the next time:
- Make sure the blazer/jacket fits extremely well, even if you have to take it to be altered
- Match your plaid to your personal style – “English countryside” for the more faint at heart or “Gwen Stefani” for those of you who want to make a real statement
- Try to buy quality fabric and make sure your blazer is lined. In the general case of blazers, off price or deeply on sale is often better than simply cheap.
- Make sure you have a variety of outfits you can put together with your blazer: skinny jeans on the weekend, a dress (blazers look good belted too!) and at least one pair of good trousers.
We thought a fun way to kick off our NEW BLOG and introduce ourselves to our readers (all three of whom know us already!) is for us to interview each other. It was interesting exercise – I think we even surprise each other!
K: Define your personal style today.
J: I’d call my style age-appropriate, pretty up to the minute and informed by Harper’s Bazaar AND J.Crew by way of online sales. I have definitely become an online shopper since I am living so far away from you.
K: Why is being stylish important to you?
J: I am not a natural beauty and I’ve felt self conscious about my looks for many years because of wearing glasses and having had some weight issues in the past. Being stylish has been my way of feeling better about my looks and standing out from the crowd. In addition, I see personal style as an artistic expression – a mix of color, texture, and shape that results in a good package.
K: Have I influenced your style over time? How?
J: You HAVE influenced my style over time. You definitely have helped me maintain a younger, more carefree look. It would be easy to just continue my more “corporate” look from the 90s – you know, dressed up matchy-match for work and Friday casual the rest of the time. But you’ve been my guide to get me past that. You’ve also helped me become a better budget shopper, although I still stray occasionally.
K: Who else has influenced your style over the years? Who is your inspiration today?
J: I’ve always been influenced by fashion magazines and by visiting Manhattan and seeing chic women on the street. Do I have fashion icons? Well, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Donna Karan,Gwen Stefani,and today Emma Stone. Iris Apfel is also high on my list. I love the insouciance of young women in the public eye today.
K: How would you define my style?
J: I think you are still finding your ultimate personal style, but today it is trendy in a way that is right for you with a touch of preppiness. You don’t have much money to spend on fashion, but you make what you can afford really work.
K: What is the BEST fashion bargain you’ve found this season?
J: Everything I’ve gotten this year has been a bargain and I also got some great bargains last spring, but the biggest bargains this fall have probably been from Gilt and J. Crew.
K: What are the three most important items to own this fashion season?
J: Wow, three is such a limiting number, so I’ll list four. I would say 1) the perfect white shirt (I buy a new one every year because they never look fresh after that), 2) one fabulous statement necklace, 3) a great multi-season coat in a bright color, and 4) a pair of trendy heels – probably a mix of colors or one great color. Everything else can be finessed from prior years if they can be mixed with these items.
Now Jeanne turns the tables and interviews Kate.
J: Define your personal style today.
K: I think my personal style is constantly evolving, but currently I’d call it mostly preppy with some trends and risks thrown in. I am definitely taking more fashion “risks” these days – and by that I mean going outside my comfort zone. This season, my personal “risk” include booties and a wide-brim fedora from Gap.
J: Why is being stylish important to you?
K: My friends have always turned to me for style advice, and I really enjoy giving that advice and being considered an authority on the subject. I think style is also a way for me to express my creative side. I love playing with colors, textures, and layers to build something new from pieces I already have.
J: Have I influenced your style over time? How?
K: You have probably been the largest style influence in my life. Part of this is due to the fact that I get a lot of your hand-me-downs… but I have also watched your style morph over the years. I’ve always been impressed by your willingness to take risks and wear what you love, not what you are expected to wear.
J: Who else has influenced your style over the years? Who is your inspiration today?
K: I’m not sure I’d say that I have had style influences, besides you, until recently. These days, I read a lot of style blogs – I am mostly heavily influenced by J’s Everyday Style. I also keep an eye on the J.Crew catalog, and celebrity style.
J: How would you define my style?
K: Sophisticated and eclectic. You love quirky and sometimes silly pieces that I would never have the confidence to wear. But you also fall back on the same basics that I wear. You pay much more attention to high fashion than I do, and I see it as having an influence on your style.
J: What is the BEST fashion bargain you’ve found this season?
K: My wide-brimmed fedora mentioned earlier. I got it on sale for $13 (after I had already bought it and returned it once)!
J: What are the three most important items to own this fashion season?
K: Here is where you’ll notice my preppiness probably: skinny jeans or cords; patterned collared shirts for layering, and booties. None of these are particularly trendy, but they are key to stylish outfits this season.
Please check back soon for our new blog!
~ Kate and Jeanne