Have Shoes, Will Travel – Summer Travel Volume 1

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Summer is finally here. It finally feels real. Although it has been hot as hell here, summer never officially starts for me until school is out and I am left to my own devices. At 26 weeks pregnant the heat is not my friend, but I’m making the most of it with low-key pool days, virgin drinks on a patio and time spent nesting (in the a/c), planning my registry and catching up with friends.

I also, fun-fun-fun, have time now to plan my summer trip with my Mum. I’m very excited. We used to travel together when I was in high school (Italy, France, and weekend getaways). This is our first mother-daughter trip in a decade. Being a real planner, I am eager to map out what to pack. Now the criteria is more stringent than ever – I can’t treat vacay as an extended photo shoot (like our trips to Santorini, Portugal and Spain). My growing waistline and easily-triggered emotions won’t stand for a suitcase that is packed to the gills, nor clothes that are cute, but uncomfortable. This isn’t usually an issue, since I’m pretty much comfort-before-style anyways.

Today: SHOES! 

Here are my top picks to travel with – for feet that will be comfy, well-supported and pregnancy-swollen (nice, right?). Let’s start with Soludos – whose shoes are cheeky, adorable and comfortable. They tend to be very classic, with on-trend details.

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Soludos Espadrilles – these are so comfortable and go with anything. I have spent a few days wearing them in and after day two, no rubbing.

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These espadrilles also come in a variety of colours. Oh, boy! (image: Soludos.com)

As we set out for our destination, the South of England, heading to boutique bed and breakfasts in the countryside, I am keeping in mind that we will not be walking more than I can handle at this stage of pregnancy…but I still want my feet to breathe, handle some serious walking up steps, to see ruins, farms, manor houses, and to handle old-timey streets. Plus, the footwear needs to be supportive and versatile enough to match all my outfits (stay tuned for Volume II).

Cole Haan has some wonderful options in driving shoes, loafers and sporty lace-ups. I went to the outlets at Niagara and found these for $50 less per pair than online/in regular stores, plus they offer a 15% off teacher discount (always pays to ask).

The court shoes I found are in a tan, super soft leather. While I love the idea of white runners, not so much in-love with them getting dirty. Bonus, the tan colour extends the leg line, rather than cutting you off at the ankle. To the right, the Weekender LX Loafer with Stitchlite fabric is breathable and featherweight, and the bottom left is a blush loafer with awesome sole cushioning that fits beautifully and is both lightweight and supportive. I went with the two on the left. All images: Cole Haan and available here.

The last great find, after lots of research, is feel-good company Toms (they donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair purchased). My two faves for a summer getaway are the Honey Leather Camilia Sandal ($120), and the Navy Slub Chambray Clara Espadrille slides ($85). Signing up for a mailing list got me a %20 discount off my purchase and they have free shipping (though returns might prove costly). I have seen women schlepping around Toronto wearing the basic version of Toms shoes , or even wearing the lace version for weddings, so the comfort seems to speak for itself.

The Camilia has a bit of a heel, but not enough to mess with posture (left), the Clara (top right) is casual, but boho and cute/practical, while the lace slip-on is the often-chosen ‘fancy’ version of a Toms shoe (though I can’t vouch for the comfort of the lace on the skin after a day of walking). All images: Toms

I cannot wait to whittle this list down as I choose the clothes that will pair with them for my upcoming trip. I will never be a stilettos on the beach kind of woman, or on the cobblestones, or even (truthfully) from the taxi to the restaurant. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look adorable from head to toe.

What are your go-to shoes for vacations or long days out in your own hood, enjoying it like a tourist?

 

KonMari and Me: A Month of Marie Kondo’s De-cluttering

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I started my summer reading with something my close friends will find hilariously fitting: THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. Described as a “guide to decluttering your home… Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.” This is serious stuff. My friend, Bronwen, wrote a funny, but somewhat scathing review of this ‘methodology’ but my interest was piqued.

My newest book indulgence inspired the month-long challenge.

My newest book indulgence inspired the month-long challenge.

This kind of wacky, eccentricity seems right up my alley. Kondo asks, “Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?” Yes, Marie, yes. They do. And I am, admittedly an OCD (mildly) freak who has used a label maker to identify the drawers (by content) in her cupboard. I have a ‘hanger system’. I have come to understand that these routines/rituals/house rules, which others find weird (but which they often concur make complete sense) are what keep me sane at home, creating a safe-haven where I can FIND my things easily and know where they go; this is a necessary process after a long day at work, teaching people’s children, in an environment which is largely chaotic, messy, disorganized and dirty. I’m going all in for this one.

This is my month of KonMari Method. As she advised, I started with SHOES.

Put ALL the shoes in a pile. All items of the same type. Get them from ANYWHERE they might be hiding and put them together so you can pick them up, one at a time, for the Konmari Test.

Put ALL the shoes in a pile. All items of the same type. Get them from ANYWHERE they might be hiding and put them together so you can pick them up, one at a time, for the KonMari Test.

I made/encouraged my wife to participate also. She and I moving in together, early in our relationship, was less a ‘thing’ than the amalgamation of our two closets. ‘You moved into the DRESSING ROOM?’ our friends would joke. This shared space requires a shared approach. Plus, she’s wonderfully ruthless.

Two women equal a LOT of shoes. A LOT.

Two women equal a LOT of shoes. A LOT.

Even our cat, Felix, found this process exhausting. He found a comfy spot later, on top of shoe mountain, to observe our success.

Even our cat, Felix, found this process exhausting. He later sought out a comfy spot, on top of shoe mountain, to observe our success.

I am no Imelda Marcos, but I still managed to generate and get rid of an impressive pile. Marie, I feel lighter already.

Imelda Marcos, amongst her shoe collection; impressive for a first lady of a country that was bankrupt.

Imelda Marcos, amongst her shoe collection; impressive for the First Lady of a country that was bankrupt.

Things were not so dire for us. Actually, I cheated a little, keeping a few pairs of VERY nineties shoes (for costumes), which actually makes total sense, because I love Hallowe’en and really, you can’t buy shit like this anymore. I’m just starting, so I expect a few growing pains. Also, I needed to keep my dance shoes, tap shoes, hip hop shoes, ballet shoes…

Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in February 1986. Philippine authorities took possession of what assets could be found, including Imelda's trove of 2700 shoes. No developing country can excuse its leaders' recklessly decking themselves out this way while the people struggle to make ends meet.

Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in February 1986. Philippine authorities took possession of what assets could be found, including Imelda’s trove of 2700 shoes. No developing country can excuse its leaders recklessly decking themselves out this way, while the people struggle to make ends meet.

Good job, Alison. Imelda would be proud ... that you had so many to start with; ambivalent that you were getting rid of so many; impressed that so many of the ones remained based on the Konmarie test of asking,

Good job, Alison. Imelda would be proud … that you had so many to start with; ambivalent that you were getting rid of so many; impressed that so many of the ones that remained passed the KonMari test of asking, “Do these spark joy?”

So, where do you put all these tidy, joy-sparking shoes? In clear plastic shoe boxes, obviously. Another thing that inspires joy…is that once you get rid of the things that are weighing you down, you can make room for things that you really love – and from selling the castoffs to a consignment store, as well as donating many pairs to Goodwill, we have some money to put towards a few pairs we REALLY love. We sold nine pairs for a profit of $58.00 and may list another online, plus we have three reusable bags FULL to drop off for charity.

Tidy and with more room to breathe, my shoes are happier (according to Marie Kondo).

Tidy and with more room to breathe, my shoes are happier (according to Marie Kondo). But this drew attention to how crowded and sad my other clothes are…

Keep your peepers peeled for the next assault on my personal possessions: The Accessories Department.

Step By Step, Ooh, Baby

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Ralph Lauren is not a label that comes to mind when I think of items I want to add to my closet. But, man, Lauren is doing something right in the shoe department! I am currently coveting a record number of his spring designs, and am no closer to narrowing down which I’ll choose, thanks to the totally adorable and well-priced pairs that are on offer.

I can imagine each one of these adding a pop of colour, or subtle texture, or … being just too freaking cute for words, with a whole slew of outfits. How can you pick just one? Since I’m not in the market for several, which will be my Cinderella pair?

Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

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Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

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Ralph Lauren Espadrilles, all $80 at HBC

Spring In My Step

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There is a shoe wish-list for Spring. It’s mine. It is actually called “Wish List” on my Pinterest page. Knowing that I’ll be travelling to Greece this summer, for a friend’s wedding, I want to maximize my suitcase space, but also have shoes that look beautiful as I walk to island of Santorini. And I do walk.  I am an explore-the-world-on-foot kinda girl.

That means that the footwear must stand the test of time, no blisters and definitely no afterthoughts like, ‘wow, let’s crop all our trip photos at ankle length.

Here’s what I’m hankering for. All shoes are linked from my Pinterest Page. https://www.pinterest.com/alisonjc/wish-list/

And please, please do share if you’ve had success in finding a pair that travels well, looks breezy and lets you stay out all day, and up all night.

Platform slingback. Great for adding height, without the heel ache, for floaty skirts and cobblestone streets.

Platform slingback. Great for adding height, without the heel ache, for floaty skirts and cobblestone streets.

Casual, soft and pretty, the vented sides allow for cool feet and the flat sole keeps ankle turns to a minimum.

Casual, soft and pretty, the vented sides allow for cool feet and the flat sole keeps ankle turns to a minimum.

On those hot stone beaches, these waterproof jellies are perfect for dipping your toes in the water and dry in an instant.

On those hot stone beaches, these waterproof jellies are perfect for dipping your toes in the water and dry in an instant.

Something softer than my usual black ankle-boot, with pretty detailing makes them prime for pairing with skirts and dresses as well as pants.

Something softer than my usual black ankle-boot, with pretty detailing makes them prime for pairing with skirts and dresses as well as pants.

Shellys of London has it going on with this white patent flatform. Long, long legs with a boyish twist, perfect with culottes, skirts or cropped trousers. And the cork bottom is soft on your feet for a day full of walking.

Shellys of London has it going on with this white patent flatform. Long, long legs with a boyish twist, perfect with culottes, skirts or cropped trousers. And the cork bottom is soft on your feet for a day full of walking.

House of Harlow, Nicole Ritchie's design baby, puts the right foot forward with a simple, practical shoe that cushions and supports without detracting from the ensemble.

House of Harlow, Nicole Ritchie’s design baby, puts the right foot forward with a simple, practical shoe that cushions and supports without detracting from the ensemble.

My love affair with Frye shoes is longstanding. They make shoes that endure and their style is timeless. They add an element of tough to most of my work outfits and you can stand in them ALL DAY LONG. Great for concerts!

My love affair with Frye shoes is longstanding. They make shoes that endure and their style is timeless. They add an element of tough to most of my work outfits and you can stand in them ALL DAY LONG. Great for concerts!

The espadrille; great concept. However, I've never managed to find one that was both attractive and comfortable. This one looks like it might fit the bill.

The espadrille; great concept. However, I’ve never managed to find one that was both attractive and comfortable. This one looks like it might fit the bill.

Ankle strap detail. Two-tone and flat. Perfect for a day of market strolling and eating (olives, I imagine).

Ankle strap detail. Two-tone and flat. Perfect for a day of market strolling and eating (olives, I imagine).

My go-to shoe. A wedge with toe and ankle strap. I have this shoe, and have had this shoe, in so many variations. There's a reason: with jeans and a pretty top, this shoe adds height without sacrificing walk-ability, and with a skirt these babies make your calves look toned - all while allowing you to move without the fear of catching your heel in a grate (or location specific pitfall).

My go-to shoe. A wedge with toe and ankle strap. I have this shoe, and have had this shoe, in so many variations. There’s a reason: with jeans and a pretty top, this shoe adds height without sacrificing walk-ability, and with a skirt these babies make your calves look toned – all while allowing you to move without the fear of catching your heel in a grate (or location specific pitfall).

Tell me what shoes you’ll be packing for that summer vacay, or for the time you stay close to home and want to enjoy the heat.