Greetings friends and lovers, yesterday dear reader Helena wrote in with the following query:
Do you think it is appropriate to wear blue wedge espadrilles with a Chico’s maxidress and lightweight cotton sweater to a wedding in June? It’s at the Newark Museum in fabulous downtown Newark, NJ. Thanks in advance. The Chico’s lady told me to wear strappy sandals but with my size 11, not particularly nice feet, I vetoed that immediately.
I know what you’re thinking, and although the jokes just write themselves (I mean Chico’s and the Garden State? It’s a slow soft one right down the middle), one must always remember that some are born Newark, some achieve Newark and some –presumably like our friend Helena– have Newark thrust upon them.
That being said, I’m not entirely sure espadrilles –which I love and will feature in an upcoming post– are the way to go here.
One of the few fashion rules actually reliable in the real world is “the longer the skirt, the flatter the shoe.”
The inverse –shorter skirts require higher heels– often is true as well, but it’s by no means as reliable and should be approached with fear and trembling, especially in New Jersey.
I love maxi dresses because they are so effortless. In fact, the only time I see a maxi dress gone truly wrong is when some well-meaning but inevitably dopey-looking person Tries Too Hard.
The maxi is the natural descendant of the hostess gown, a floor-length dress popularized in the late 1920s and so called because it was an easy but elegant uniform for casual gatherings at home, especially in the late evening as they historically incorporated elements most often found in negligees and had a sort of glamorous pajama chic. Their popularity has been cyclical –the last time we really saw a major resurgence was the early 1970s– but ankle-grazers have been going strong for several years and it looks like we’re in for one of those rare, decade-long trends (see also: boot cut jeans).
Prior to to the baby boom, a hostess gown might be worn with low-heeled mules, but when maxis re-emerged slightly before the days of disco –thank YOU, Halston– they were considerably less formal and best served by nearly pancake flat sandals.
The same holds true today.
I tried on all four of my maxi dresses with shoes of varying heights and the highest heel that didn’t look actively bad was a 1 1/2″ wedge.
As owner of not one but two “size 11, not particularly nice feet” I understand your hesitation re: strappy sandals. They’re questionable as a species in the best of times since so often they show a lack of discipline, surely one of the few cases where more straps equals less restraint.
Instead of espadrilles or strappy sandals, here are five appealing but relatively minimalist sandals, streamlined enough to be elegant, but casual enough to reinforce the effortless glamor of a maxi dress (which I’m sure you’ll be accessorizing with a shawl or wrap instead of a cardigan and one –count ‘em ONE– piece of Major Statement Jewelry and little else, correct?)
Read on the see the shoes
The Larissa from Cole Haan, available in four colors and two widths, this has a micro wedge and is special enough for a casual wedding but could easily serve double duty with jeans.
The Zigi Intrigue in burnished gold or pewter is a little fancier though still not flashy, and the lovers knot is a sweet touch for a wedding especially if you’re one of those sentimental types who loves love and gives the stink eye whenever I try to add a discreet fiver to the divorce pool at the reception.
On the ultra-minimalist end of the spectrum we have the Frye Madison braided sandal. It’s got the Greek thing happening, which might be nice if the reception involves wine, philosophy, and drunken acts of sodomy (and really, what reception doesn’t?) and since it’s Frye, you know they’ll last forever.
One of the rare examples of the well-executed strappy sandal, the Delman D-Shaya is streamlined and elegant. It’s also on pretty significant sale which makes it extra appealing, especially for a blue chip brand like Delman.
Finally for the budget minded there’s the perfectly serviceable Gigi from Sam Edelman. It’s available in approximately six squillion colors including this unusual combination.