Chic, Flat Out Comfort

Okay – seriously, fashionistas (and non) out there – are there really any CHIC and

Alexander McQueen - Beautiful, but NOT what we mean

COMFORTABLE shoes? Can those two words live together in the same sentence? It’s Shoe Week here at Styl-d, and we’re going to find out.

Trolling through the spring/summer collections for a styling job that amazingly still wants summer clothes, I wondered all over again. Spring’s best, most amazing shoes are true works of art — with 4 0r 5 inch heels resembling statues, geometric shapes, etc. Platforms are so teeter-y and angled, it’s a true wonder models didn’t have to sign an liability waiver to walk down the runway in them. (Though there were definitely a few casualties — check out those videos!) Spring’s gravity-defying shoe sculptures can be multi-color, have fringe, beading, feathers, stones, cut-outs or the kitchen sink decorating them.

I totally appreciate their clever artfulness as a fashion editor, but these are not meant for more than an entrance-making moment and a quick sit-down. So what do those of us on our feet,moving fast and actually working for a living, do?

Ralph Lauren oxford

I took a trip through Zappos.com and a few of my favorite stores to find out:

Newest Flat Shapes

The Men’s Shoe (for women): This can be a flat, soft oxford-type lace-up, a jazz shoe, or a ghillie. Steve Madden has both. Sam Edelman, Joan and

Steve Madden soft oxford

David, Matt Bernson and Stuart Weitzman also have great ones in the mid-to-lesser price range. Robert Clergerie, Ralph Lauren and Fratelli Rosseti have cool but more costly versions. The men’s shoe looks great with a boyfriend jacket and shorts — from shorter and cuffed to

Stuart Weitzman cut out oxford

longer, but still above the knee,bermudas and cityshorts. Or, it is pretty cool with slim jeans – capris or longer — or any kind of trouser, and cute with just the right slightly fuller short skirt.

The Boat Shoe: Of course, the absolute best are from Chanel in unexpected

Sperry multi color boat shoe

multi-color pastels and bright combinations. But, again, they are great with shorts, playful short skirts (even a flirty-skirted Chanel-type tweedy summer suit!). Steve Madden has a terrific interpretation in

Sperry hot pink boat shoe

great colors and, Sperry, originator of the topsider, was not about to let its look get co-opted. Theirs come in colorful patent, multi-color suede and silver metallic. Super-comfortable, packing a weighty style wallop this season and more unexpected than sneaks.

Summer “Boot” Sandals: 2010 was the winter of the short boot with

Type Z sandal "boot"

everything — from dresses to leggings, jeans, short skirts and all manner of trousers, cropped and not. And designers didn’t want to give up that sturdy proportion for summer. So, there are a quite a few

Ted Baker sandal "boot"

open-toe boots for summer– lots with heels, like Phillip Lim’s — and a few flat ones, too.

But sandals really stepped into the heavier and higher-on-the-leg boot camp, too. From heavy gladiators versions to whole swaths of leather or fabric around the ankle, some sandals got really chunky. They look good with shorter skirts, shorts and the right casual dress– above the knee. Be careful with any pant or skirt that cuts the leg below that, though – too many horizontal lines keep you looking short, and nobody wants that!

Tapeet heavy sandal

Michael Kors high brown sandals

Nike mid sandal-boot

Enzo Angiolini boot-like sandal

Moccasins: Moccasins are a chic flat, too, this season and go with far more than the uptight preppy look we associate them with. Minnetonkas always look great with jeans, shorts and casual dresses, but

Ugg pale grey moc

now they and their slightly more upscale cousins are finishing more seriously polished trouser and shorts work looks as well. Pleated or draped, and definitely cropped, trousers are spring fashion’s newest pant shape, and they are a natural for the moccasin. You have to be careful with

Ugg olive suede moccasins

Minnetonka cool girl mocs

dresses and skirts, but the slightly fuller, flirtier ones can be great with moccasins as well as ballets and sandals.

great with jeans, shorts and casual dresses, but now they and their slightly more upscale cousins are finishing more seriously polished trouser and shorts work looks as well. Pleated or draped, and definitely cropped, trousers are spring fashion’s newest pant shape, and they are a natural for the moccasin. You have to be careful with dresses and skirts, but the slightly fuller, flirtier ones can be great with moccasins as well as ballets and sandals.

The New Gladiator:

The best gladiators (ones didn’t step out into boot territory this year) did not wrap so high up the leg, Coliseum-style, but

Calvin Klein low gladiator sandal

stopped lower on the foot, like these terrific Paul Smith neon green sandals. Any gladiator that has too much going on is a don’t this season. The cleaner-lined, less gadget-y ones are more truly chic. Bells and whistles, charms, tassels, studs, jewels don’t make a shoe more cool, only a lot more noticeable — and that’s not always positive.

Burberry low gladiator

Paul Smith low gladiator sandal

Joan & David low gladiator

**For more CHIC, FLAT-OUT COMFORT, see tomorrow’s post on what shapes are still stylish, but low as you go. Until then, be comfortable in your own shoes!

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Chic Peek At Fall 2010

I went to see Phillip Lim’s 3.1 fall collection up close in his NY showroom the other day. The show was

3.1 Phillip Lim camel coat

terrific back in February, but after 2 months, I’d forgotten the vibe that sent me into fashion orbit.

As soon as I rounded the corner (after viewing the delicious, deluxe accessories in the entry – particularly a buttery, squashy leopard satchel so chic it could almost walk you into a room !), it hit me all over again. How could I forget? These are absolutely great clothes — simply, totally elegant American sportswear chic.

Following a long but stratospheric tradition that includes iconic American designers Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs, Lim has picked up the golden thread of chic American classic style and made it his own. This is where classics should be in 2010. His silhouettes are tweaked, reshaped and detailed into modernity.

There were terrific coats – from a camel double-breasted

3.1 Phillip Lim gray shearling melange coat

kimono coat with a thin black leather belt to a black silk-piped short hooded camel steamlined duffel coat — and great knits. Big, slouchy, pale blue and striped gray/blue cardigan sweaters and greige textured sweater tunics were elegantly easy. A very shaggy ivory knitted cardigan and skirt were just sublime. There were great shorts in quilted leather or cotton, to be worn over thick tights.

And the shearlings! There were endless super texture combinations of suede, shearling, tweed, leather, fur and knit worked into sections that made these the season’s best American jackets and coats, all in shades of gray, ivory, beige, natural, brown and black. So yummy.

Sequin dresses and tunics often mixed with other fabrics, and with just the right amount of shine, looked terrific here in Lim’s hands, and not tired the way they seem in the stores for spring, with scores of brassy imitators of designer shine packing the racks. Dull, rich gold, matte violet and silver spelled out a luxurious message in these covetable accent pieces.

But, best of all was the blanket plaid coat, skirt, shorts and pants that just about screamed Bonnie , Bill

3.1 Phillip Lim blanket plaid coat

and Geoffrey, albeit with a modern, assymetrical touch that Lim’s young (and now older, I am sure) customers adore. In cream, grey, beige and black, it was just about the chicest thing I saw this season. I love it when that happens! What a star to watch for anyone who loves fashion.  Available in July at stores or at www.31philliplim.com.