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Fashion Talk: Spring shoes offer high drama

By Tommie Roberts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dangerous, delicious and brimming with wit, shoes have become the queens of the closet.

Sweetness aplenty, and anything but demure, the season's shoes are perfect for the dainty decorum strutted on the spring ready-to-wear catwalks.

Now an official topic of conversation, shoes make maximum impact. Not for the faint of heart -- or weak of ankle -- shoes are rubberneck-causing, traffic-stopping and hot to trot for spring. Some snazzy footwear may not get you down Capitol Street. How long you're able to wear your shoes is directly proportional to the height of the heel, the strappiness and whether they were designed with Lady Gaga in mind.

Shoe "artists" delivered high drama for the season with wildly inventive footwear in brilliant springtime color. Orange is the frontrunner for spring shoes, as it is in ready-to-wear. The color spectrum ranges from bright blues, greens and pinks to their opposites -- Jordan Almond shades of pastels. But neutrals are back, too.

Romantic, bold, flirty watercolor floral prints migrate from dresses to shoes in colors that mix and match.

Art deco color blocks offer crisp shades in bold colors as a lesson in art theory. Multicolored heels harness a smoldering, modern edge for those who want to rock the block with presto! drama. A flash of fluorescent neon packs a punch of wonderfully mod cool to twin peaks of glamour.

Striking details are on trend, adding a touch of interest and a dollop of pretty to breezy, open styles, chunky, trendy wedges and sultry high heels. Coy and ladylike slingbacks, posh platforms and peep toes, modern cap toes, clogs, charming ballerinas, jazzy stilettos and chunky heels in raffia, rope, wood and patent capture the modern glamour of the new season. "Flatform" shoes -- platforms that are high in both the front and back -- make you feel as if you're wearing a flat.

Contemporary, trendy feet feature zippers, buckles (do not wear with motorcycle jacket -- too many buckles), 3-D glam flowers, jewels, architectural graphics, T-straps and Mary Janes. Sparkling metallic finishes, stones and beads add the right dash of glamour, embellishment and shine.

Cap toe ballet flats are brighter and cuter than ever. Slightly mod, they look sharp with any skinny-leg pant or shift dress.

Casual, classic boat shoes, that quintessentially preppy style that has a sense of history, cut loose for spring in fun Crayola colors. They are the season's star of the backyard barbecue. Even a tomboy would love this shoe.

At Yarid's, in the Bridge Road Shops on Bridge Road, owner Emilie Couch said they have sold more than 3,500 pairs of über-hot Toms canvas flats.

"The 'one-for-one' concept behind the company is really neat," she explained. "For every pair of Toms sold, the company donates a pair of shoes to underprivileged children in another country. They go in and measure for correct size and put a pair of shoes on those feet."

Toms come in dozens of colors and patterns and are ageless in popularity. "I've never seen anything like it in all my years in the shoe business. It's almost like an emotional purchase. People love the philosophy that they are helping others who have no shoes," Couch said.

The classic espadrille gets spiced up with wedge heels, rope and painted details for spring. And the socks-with-sandals thing looks so smart, but keep both in the same color family.

One of the latest footwear-fad sensations is slippers -- wool-lined, suede slippers. Cool and quirky, nothing but comfortable, with a low-key vibe. Designers Cynthia Rowley, Jenni Kayne and The Row were some of the first shoe designers to strut these cozy-yet-chic shoes on their runways. They can be dressed up or down to suit your mood.

About black pumps. Never have there been so many options and choices. Of course, you need more than one pair of these classics. Platform stilettos, kitten slingbacks, open-toe wedges, patent skyscrapers or black-glittered evening shoes are among the versions of this polished, whole-lot-of-attitude shoe. If you prefer the classic styles, you can still give your office favorites a shot of glamour by changing it up a bit with colors, prints and finishes, without going over the top.

And look for mother-daughter matching flats to arrive in stores, maybe as early as fall. Roger Vivier is the designer with the vision, but watch for others to knock off his lead.

From towering rainbows to sprightly little flats, the quickest way to lighten your mood and alter ego is to dress your feet in footwear that is ridiculously stylish and perfectly, politely presentable.

If Cinderella taught us anything, it is that sometimes all you need is the right shoe.

Tommie Sue Roberts is the free-lance fashion writer for the Sunday Gazette-Mail. She may be emailed at tsr1573@yahoo.com.


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