Monday, 30 December 2013

Ballet Flat Favourites - 13 Pairs in 2013

JoyD: How many pairs of ballet flats do you need? 
Brian Davis: One more pair than I have now . . . 
my favorite pair is my next pair. (September 16, 2012)


In celebration of another year gone and in appreciation to the commenters on this blog, I am dedicating this post to the topic which has instigated the greatest number of comments in 2013. The "ballerina flats" posts on this blog, for the most part, have featured men wearing flats and for that I thank Brian Davis, who has become my official advisor on the topic. The comments in response to these posts have been inspiring, some anonymously written and some with names, and so from those posts and comments, I have compiled 13 favourite ballet flats in 2013. 

NICE: When you go shopping in 2014, whether you are male or female, use this list as a guide:

Photo Source: Brian Davis
1) Tory Burch Flats. If you have been reading this blog, you will know that Brian's favourite ballet flats are Tory Burch . . . I was a huge fan of higher end flats like Michael Kors and Puma flats. Puma actually makes some amazing flats.  But my true favourites are my Tory Burch flats . . . Her classic Reva flats with the gold or silver medallion are a must have.  (Brian Davis, April 20, 2013)

Photo Source: Brian Davis
2) Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan 'Air Bacara' Flat - "super comfortable and unisex, unfortunately out of my budget" (Ivan, May 12, 2013). These come in at around $200.00 retail full price. PinkPanther222 also likes Maria Sharapova - "I absolutely love my Maria Sharapova Air Bacaras. They cushion the heel with Nike technology, the design helps out a guy with high arches, and they just make me look good. They are elegant, simple and sophisticated. I wear them with jeans and shorts. They are incredibly comfortable and versatile." (May 6, 2013 comments) That's Brian in his yellow Revas with a friend in the blue Maria Sharapova Air Bacaras.

Photo Source: Amazon
3) Merrel Wonder Glove Mary Jane ballet flats - "I am proudly wearing them everyday", writes PinkPanther222 who also suggests these, for which he has written a review for Merrel, Amazing Shoes for Males, As Well, which is copied here:
I just purchased a pair of Wonder Gloves (Aluminum) . . . they are so comfortable, flexible and light on your feet . . . as a male I was looking for an attractive "barefoot style" shoe . . . hard to find in the men's section . . . Thank you Merrel! I wear them with my jeans on a regular basis . . . I have alreay received compliments from a few women and my wife.

Photo Source: Rubinos Shoes
4) Nine West model - Fascinate - "I honestly recommend them to all the girls & guys who love to wear flats . . . they are super comfortable and look great with any outfit ($100. Cdn). (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

Photo Source: Banana Republic
5) Banana Republic Ashley ballet flats - "very cute and better than home slippers, I own 2 pairs in black and cognac and I love them ($99. Cdn)" (Ivan, May 12, 2013) Just thought I would feature the red pair to entice you in 2014. I was a tad surprised that Ivan would like the bow but it proves that this too is an inappropriate preconceived notion of what men should like. It seems that if you are adding to a basic wardrobe of black and beige flats, red could be your next choice. 

Photo Source: This Next
6) Michael Kors flats - "very comfortable and elegant flats". (Ivan, May 12, 2013) These are Michael Kors Halo flats which truly do look extremely elegant, perfect for a black tie affair. These look like a fabulous alternative to high heels for the women reading this.

Photo Source: Lindsay Phillips
7) Lindsay Phillips Liz ballet flats - black patent quilted. (Ivan, May 12, 2013). Lindsay Phillips also has something they call "snap shoes", basically ballet flats with interchangeable decorative "shoe ornaments".

8) Juicy Couture scrounge flats (Sergio, May 15, 2013)

Photo Source: Skechers
9) Skechers Bikers Mary-Janes (Brenn, December 28, 2013)

10) Le Chateau (Canadian retailer) has some comfortable flats (articles 276019 and 302807) - "I have the first one (276019) and they are very soft and comfy and easy to match with all my dressy pants and jeans, the uppers are made of leather so no blisters in your heels or toes; price range between $29. to $69. (Cdn)" (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

Photo Source:
Jessica Simpson Leve Shopping.Yahoo
11) Jessica Simpson Leve ballet flats. (Anonymous, June 9, 2013) Another bow on a pair suggested by a male. I personally don't care for bows on shoes therefore I can only conclude that stereotyping ends now!

Photo Source: ShopStyle
12) Lanvin ballet flats. Joelle Aidan was quite smitten by a muted Kelly green pair of Lanvins. I have recently broken the bank and purchased a pair of Lanvin ballet flats and the comfort level has set a new standard. Further, the Lanvin shoes (as simple as they are) are just beautiful to look at. (May 17, 2013) I don't know if these are exactly Joelle's Lanvins but from the description, I found many lovely pairs that were a pleasure to look at and finally chose this particular pair.

13) Sam Edelman Baxton (Ivan, May 12, 2013) Scroll down to the lower part of the Neiman Marcus Last Call page to see a variety of Sam Edelman Baxton ballet flats.

Ivan brought up the issue of cost in his comments and makes some suggestions for shopping for ballet flats. A good option for modest budgets like mine is Winners: Me too NY flats are very comfortable and its price is $40., if you check carefully Winners brings good brands such as Rocket Dog, Sam Edelman and other good brands at good prices. If you need flats in bigger sizes than women size US 11, Payless is a great option - very cute comfy flats and not expensive, and you can try them without asking the sales ladies for their help . . . (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

An Anonymous commenter sums this post up well . . . I wear the ballet flats because they are comfortable and I can slip them on and off easily. They are light on my feet and due to the lower cut of the vamp, are cooler in the summer. This commenters' flats collection come from the Gap, JCrew and Steve Madden. (June 9, 2013)

And with that recommendation . . . different flats for different folks . . . 

NO THANKS . . . 

1) the Steve Madden Heaven - "these flats looks really nice but they always cause me blisters in the toes and sweaty feet cause the insoles are made of synthetic". (Ivan, May 12, 2013)

2) Bloch ballerinas - they are really cute but the toe area is very narrow. I usually wear women's shoe size US 9 or 9.5 and with this brand I had to go up to 10.5 to have some comfort in the toe area, price is high ($225). (Ivan, May 12, 2013)


1) Within the Tory Burch line, comes this observation from Joelle Aidan: I have to say that I prefer the Tory Burch Eddie ballet flat to the Reva. (May 17, 2013)

Your experiences with ballet flats have an important place for this post's informative value and so I invite you to link to my blog (thanks Brian & Brenn and others I don't know about), add your comments here and become a follower.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014 

Ballet Flats Posts on this Blog . . . 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Shoes: To Fix or Not

These Choos are NOT made for walking: The designer shoes that look old and tatty after one day's wear.
- Joanne Hegarty,  Mail Online, August 15, 2011

I certainly did NOT experience the extent of the problems that Joanne Hegarty and friends did in the article about the delicate nature of designer shoes but after an afternoon reception I did come away with damage that I personally did not even realize happened. 

Jimmy Choo heel tip. Photo by JoyD
Jimmy Choo heel tip. Photo by JoyD
The Jimmy Choos I bought in 2011 have served me well until I went to an outdoor wedding reception in Germany last summer. The heel tip was gone and I was walking on the metal "nail". The leather was pulled back on the heel and lifting from worse to slight almost halfway up the heel. I couldn't wear them and so I began searching to see if I could get them fixed. I emailed Jimmy Choo customer service and a person responded quickly and efficiently with a shoe repair reference in New York state. I was in France at the time and was returning to Canada. With that information, the Choo advisor suggested I take them back to where I bought them. When I came back to Canada, I explored both alternatives but needed some time to ponder whether the cost and effort would be worth it for a pair of shoes, already over two years old. With the information I collected, I came to the reality that I probably would just buy a new pair rather than pay return shipping and repair and heel replacement fees. At the very least my research revealed that they were fixable. I was talking about my dilemma to my friend Sharon over lunch and she suggested that I try a new local shoe repair service whose work is "fabulous"! 

This new "shoemaker" was from Romania and performed a small miracle for no more than the cost of a new pair of heel tips, less than $15.00 (Cdn). I was relieved, appreciative and certainly confident that she could repair just about anything I would take to her. 

Shoe Advice: 

No matter the brand name, the more delicate the shoe (such as a strappy sandal with a thin leather sole), the more necessary to have them re-soled before you actually wear them. You are not so much getting them re-soled but reinforcing the delicate leather sole with another leather sole. If you wait until after the original sole has worn, you may not be happy with a complete "re-soling" which may change the look in a more pronounced way than if you had them reinforced originally.

Black marks on light coloured patent can be removed with petroleum jelly and a little rubbing or if that doesn't work, non-acetone nail polish remover will remove the black marks if they are superficial and not "embedded".

Always use a protection spray on shoes and boots if there is the slightest chance that you will encounter moisture on leather soles. And when I write "moisture" I don't only mean a torrential downpour, I mean the dampness of a grassy lawn - those heels will sink and after a couple of hours of contact, the leather on the heel could very well lift and the heel tip compromised. Think of those heels soaking in wet soil for two hours. Walk on concrete steps after and the heel could encounter significant damage. Be careful and think twice before spending a lot of time on that lawn in heels - gardeners wear rubber clogs for a reason.

Going out for dinner is different than dancing all evening so choose different pairs for different purposes.

When encountering problems with designer shoes, return to the store where you bought them for advice, you will receive more specific pertinent information from the local retail outlet than the designer's website. For this reason, I will never buy designer shoes online but of course, that is a very personal choice.

Explore alternatives before throwing away a pair of shoes. You'd be surprised what a good cobbler can do!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Pajama Day


December 25th was pajama day when I was growing up. As a kid I remember going to my parents' bedroom door, peeking around the door frame and waiting to be invited in. My younger brother and I would then jump onto my parents' bed and beg them to get up so that we could each open a gift from Santa Claus. You see, my family celebrated Christmas according to the Julian calendar, on January 7th and it was January 6th when we opened Christmas presents from the family and had visiting relatives come for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.

NEED: a new pair of pajamas

When we were introduced to Santa at school, Santa Claus, coming with one gift for each of us, was added to my family's Christmas celebrations and he of course left those presents to be opened on the 25th. Because we didn't celebrate the 25th with a big meal or with any visitors, staying in our pajamas all day was easy and soon became our tradition. In fact, in subsequent years my mother began giving us a pair of pajamas as my parents' December 25th Christmas gift to us. Now we officially celebrated two Christmases! This year I may have to resurrect this custom but I didn't think to buy myself a new pair of pajamas. 

Looking to the past for a new tradition is necessary since my husband's parents are now both gone and my parents too. Without parents, to whom Christmas obligations were an annual necessity, and without children, my husband and I are on our own to create and develop new traditions.

In 2013 I will wear a black pair of monogrammed pajamas, an old pair with drawstring pants and a button down shirt, at least until I need to dress for dinner. Soft from multiple washings and worn around the edges, this pair will soon need to be replaced. Maybe next year.

Have a blessed, fun-filled and restful Christmas and stay in your pajamas just a little longer today.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

It's Frigid on the Prairies!


It has been cold on the Canadian prairies. Brutally cold! Men and women I know who have not worn fur for a variety of reasons have succumbed and have resurrected their fur coats. No matter what one has to say, fur and shearling make up the warmest outerwear humans have adopted and adapted. 

There is a fur lobby and I acknowledge and respect their sentiments but for the ones who are extreme, it seems that their motivations disregard two important factors - the extreme cold of the North and the economies of the Indigenous Nations of the North. When I hear of animal rights activists bringing forth animal suffering I think of the hunters and trappers I know, the men and women who have a great respect for the wild animals and are humane in their methods. Nature deals with over population but humans have interfered and now imbalances can be blamed on human decision makers in a commercial market. 

I also question the "warm weather all year long" resident who admonishes those who wear fur in frigid temperatures. Has he or she experienced minus 40 with a wind chill factor? I question the actors and actresses who call "exploitation" when referring to the fur industry? Movies? Exploitation? In fact, from a critical standpoint, what "business" has not been accused of exploitation?

I had a fur coat and have chosen not to wear it anymore but I do have a shearling jacket which is an animal product. It's the luxurious nature, the expense and criticism of the procurement methods that have made wearing fur unpopular.

NICE: Fur and Shearling is the best when it comes to minus 40 weather and don't forget the wind chill!

NO THANKS: To wearing fur in warm climates for "show" only.

NOTE-WORTHY: To those who are cognizant of the Indigenous people of Canada and other northern countries who trap wild animals with respect and a respect for the environment.

NEW: Actually not so much new but the idea of re-furbishing, re-designing and re-making old fur coats rather than buying new ones.

NECESSARY: Awareness of varying viewpoints with respect and tolerance for those who choose or choose not to wear fur.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Pre-Christmas Artisans' Show & Sale

Last Sunday I participated in a pre-Christmas Sale with three other jewellery makers, an artist and a paper origami crafter. It was held in the artist's studio and her pieces provided a most luxurious and beautiful backdrop for our wares. The jewellery makers' products were distinctly different from each other and so with options from varying styles, there was something for everyone.

By the time this picture was taken my display was fatigued from purchases made and products gone, and from two hours of trying on, holding up against and being moved around and about. But having the freedom to try things on, ask opinions and walk around with one designer's piece in hand while looking at others is what makes this by-invitation-only sale so special. 

Joanne (in the blue glasses) enjoying the show and sale with me.
Photo source:
My work tends to be big, bold, sometimes asymmetric and comprised of mixed media. I combine acrylic with wood and stone, crystals and natural stones, glass beads with metal and plastic, ceramic beads, yarn covered beads with crystals and stone nuggets . . . I buy many of those component parts when I live in France for part of the year and also repurpose vintage pieces. I stare at beads in the same colour tones, then contrasting colours and finally mix them with different metals. I assemble and take apart. Sometimes I just look at the "mess" of components and come up with "something". A sense of "knowing" comes over me when the piece is ready.

Many of the buyers come to jewellery sales such as this one because they are looking for something unique, for something that they won't find at the department stores. My philosophy is that since I am eliminating the vendor, I can pass on better value to my patrons. I can only make so many items and can only attend so many sales and so I suppose I could charge what the market can handle but cash flow is important and presently my goal is to sustain my habit of design and creating and progressively purchase better quality raw materials.

The following photos were taken by Elizabeth, who owns and creates in her studio at 2nd Avenue Lofts. 

Cosmic Fishnet 5 from a Series by Elizabeth Babyn.
Photo source:

Lorissa, Yvonne and MaryT, the other designers, at the the sale at Babyn's 2nd Avenue Studio.

Inspecting, trying on and deciding went on the entire afternoon. It was then necessary to get cards and boxes from Carolyn when gifts were purchased.


Such a nice way to shop!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Difficulty When Talking About Funerals

Most of us don't talk about funerals easily. About a month ago while I was visiting my mother-in-law, she told me that she would like to be buried in her beige suit that she wore to her granddaughter's wedding. It was easier to tell me than it was to tell her daughters I'm sure. I told her I would tell the girls. I have. And now that she is in palliative care and the time is close, I contemplate that her frail small frame will be overwhelmed in a suit that is probably three sizes too big on her. I suppose we will worry about that when the time comes. For some it may be easy to disregard wishes made by those who are deceased but for me, her wishes are important.

It seems trivial and I feel guilty when I begin thinking about what I should wear when I attend a funeral or memorial service yet when someone is close to you it is important to dress for them as a sign of respect. Whenever I wore a suit, my mother-in-law always complimented me and told me she liked suits on women. I'm going to wear a suit. She loved seeing her sons in suits and so of course, they will dress for their mom. And so it's not about you, when you decide on what to wear; it's all about the person you are honouring.

So is black the answer? Dark colours do seem to be the most acceptable particularly in European cultures but depending on your family ancestry and history, black may not be the choice. In my family, wearing black came with a set of rules depending on the relationship to you of the person who died. When my grandmother died, I was about eight and my aunt chastised my mother for allowing me to wear a red winter coat. As far as I remember, it was probably the only winter coat I had. I don't remember what my mother actually wore, but I do remember the black kerchiefs and scarves covering all the heads of the women in the church. For one year after the funeral, my mother wore black generally and she also wore a black armband on her coat or jacket to demonstrate that she was in mourning for her mother. After one of my brothers died, it was a very long time before she began wearing colour and it was only because, her other children began supplementing her wardrobe on birthdays and Christmas. In Canada, with so many different cultures living together there seems to be no need to be as demonstrative in mourning. In fact among my friends and family, if this custom ever was a consideration, it now has essentially disappeared. I wore beige to my eldest brother's memorial service in 2012.

Short of sleazy, I don't think it matters much what the mourners wear although we need to also be respectful of our surroundings. Like I said before, what we wear shows respect to the one we are honouring.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Question of Chic

Personal Style and Chic-Ness

So has the concept of chic changed so much that I don't recognize it anymore? Are my ideas of chic that outdated? I have to ask myself, exactly what makes up "chic"? But then, it is only chic in my mind.
Living in Paris was a crash course in chic. - Rebecca Romijn
Really? Each time I visit Paris I look for men and women exemplifying that Parisian "chic" but it seems fewer "on the street" possess it. Or perhaps my idea of "it" is a notion developed too long ago to be relevant today. I read other bloggers posts about how fabulous everyone in Paris looks, which leaves the impression that everyone on the street is perfectly turned out. 
It amuses me when I'm described as chic. - Vanessa Paradis
If you are in certain arrondisements/districts, you may still encounter that "chic-ness", which I submit is stereotypic when one talks of Parisian chic. I have been visiting Paris since 1992, if not twice a year, at least annually; and it appears that "chic" is fading. The young seem obsessed with "American" fads and those still sporting "chic" appear to be the rich or at least those who are buying at the luxury boutiques. On a particular Saturday at the end of October, I saw more "running" shoes than I ever have in Paris. Bien sur, it was the weekend and some were very unique but they were still running shoes. So it now is no longer just the tourists. 
Uggs can be as chic as heels for women. - Andre Leon Talley
 . . . I think that both France and Britain are known for their distinctive styles and everyone says that France is so chic and elegant but I think . . . French women are renowned for dressing in what suits them. - Alexa Chung
Can you still be chic in running shoes? I suppose, but now it is not the clothing or the shoes or the bag, it is the person, the posture, the demeanor, the self-awareness and the self-esteem. That in the end is chic, not the clothing anyone is wearing or the accessories anyone is sporting. Who's definition of chic are you aspiring to? Hopefully your response reflects your own sense of style, albeit influenced. And so I leave you now to contemplate your own sense of "chic"-ness with a few quotes on personal style . . .
My style is ghetto chic. I love tacky jewelry, mega heels, high waisted shorts, catsuits. - Jessie J 
My style icons would be people like Brigette Bardot and old Hollywood actresses who always look so stunning, cool and chic. I like classic and timeless looks. - Jessica Brown Findlay
I'm not chic, I could never be chic. - Sid Vicious
I admire anyone with their own sense of personal style. - Nicole Ritchie