Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm disgraceful. I admit it.

I have no willpower. I'm an embarrassment. I should be ashamed of myself. I am!!

All that being said -- lookee what I got!!!

(The smudges on the patent are from clutching it to my heart with my sweaty little hands.)

So. While I freely admit that I am not fit to go among civilized people (and certainly not fit to give them advice -- in the area of spending & finances, especially), I don't care. Because I can just sit at home in my new shoes and the rest of the world can go kiss my big... toe.

It is extremely unwise on my part to be splashing out on new Prada shoes just before I leave for a two-week trip to The Most Expensive City on Earth and The Place Where Window Shopping is Better Than Sex (a.k.a., London & Paris), but these things were the King Hell Shoe Jones of the year for me and they gave me no peace. When I looked at other shoes, I was thinking about them. They seemed to show up in every fashion editorial in every magazine I read for the last four months, taunting me with their wonder. When I got dressed, my mind was putting together outfits that I could wear with them. (This Saturday night they went to dinner along with a black leather a-line skirt, a winter white cashmere t-shirt, and my fierce black Boudicca jacket.

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(This one. I left off the silver Pirates of the Borg eye doodlywhatsis; it seemed overkill for dinner with a friend.)

Now I have to decide if these shoes are going into the suitcase for the trip. They would like very much to come with me, and they'd be a pretty good choice for the black/winter white/fuchsia color story my trip wardrobe is turning into (two weeks, four airports, one train, one suitcase, one fashion-obsessed traveler who gets bored with her clothes very quickly: A LOT of planning goes into this, my friends), and those nice wide heels are a little more sidewalk friendly than stilettos. On the other hand, those are open-toed shoes and it's going to be a lot cooler than it is here, especially at night when I'd be likely to be wearing them. I suppose I could go the toeless knee socks route like Miuccia Prada did when she showed them on the runway

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(And I DO think they lessened the curve of the heel for production, don't you? The runway version seems a bit more extreme. But maybe it's just the angle.)

but honestly, that it so not me. Besides, like those things are going to stay in place when you're walking around in them. Puh-leez... Not to mention they don't exactly solve the popsicle toes problem.

They look good with fishnets, though, huh? Let's look at them again:

::Style Spy does Happy Shoe Dance::

Space is very limited in the suitcase; I usually only allow myself one pair of dressy heels when I travel. Other shoes must be more stomping-around friendly. What do we think? Do they go off on their first European adventure? Or stay at home so I have a reason to come back? Tell me what you think.

Photos: Style Spy,

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Improbably Good

A few weeks ago, I was in Dallas, and it was still hot. (Texas being Texas, the temperatures dropped about 30 degrees in 24 hours last weekend, and Austin is having its annual Ten Days of Autumn -- it's supposed to get into the mid-40's tonight.) At any rate, it was still hot then, and I had a few summery dresses with me, but I also realized that I was going to be inside where it's air-conditioned quite a bit, so I needed a cardigan but hadn't brought one with me (which is strange in the extreme for a Cardi Queen like me, so I think the Fashion Universe was leading me). I ducked into Banana Republic and came out with this cute little thing.

(Which I very mysteriously cannot find on the Banana Republic website. Weird.)

Now, the idea of a short-sleeved cardigan would have until very recently struck me as the height of ridiculous. I mean, I'm still not sold on the sleeveless turtleneck, a concept I have tried to embrace but failed. (Seriously -- if it's warm enough to wear a sleeveless top, my neck will just be sweaty. I bought one this summer, wore it twice, and I think it's going to Goodwill. Drives me nuts.) For some reason, though, I took the plunge on this cardi. Actually, I know the reason: it was cute as hell. The dolman sleeves create a nice, drapey look, the waist is fitted, the knit (wool/cotton blend) was just heavy enough. And at that time I was still on my crusade for short-sleeved things to take me from summer into... well, Indian summer, which is what we really have instead of fall.

I bought it thinking it would get me through the weekend, but since I got back, I've thrown it on a surprising amount and you know what? I really love this silly thing. It's kinda perfect, especially for cool weather that's not really cold. Plus, I'm the sort of person who habitually and unconsciously pushes up her sleeves (Style Spy is a BIG fan of the bracelet sleeve), so this saves me the trouble. Yesterday I wore it with a deep red silky knit long-sleeved t-shirt, a black dobby wool straight skirt, some red tights, and my lovely Louis-like Armani pumps that I bought on a whim and cannot get enough of:

(Marie Antoinette, eat your heart out)

I looked darned cute. So I decided to share the love. Here are some great little short-sleeved cardis I've found on the Interwebs. Click the photos for links.

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Pretty open work.

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Good clean basic, and can also function as a top on its own.

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Perfect. This comes in red, as well, and I'm having a struggle with my No Buy.

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Nice & cuddly. This would be great over a knit dress, like a wrap dress, that was maybe a tiny bit too slinky or sexy for work.

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Everybody loves argyle!

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Very Missoni-like, which is a good thing. Stick with a solid-color top underneath, of course, unless you are Advanced-Fashion Qualified and find a pattern in the same colors.

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Love this.

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Misses sizes.

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Available in Petites, misses, and women's sizes.

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Catherine Malandrino, with beautiful ribbon trim to create that woven effect. And I'm having a fuchsia moment, so I love it.

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Nice swingy shape.

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Lovely cashmere from Vince.

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This comes in petites and misses.

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This is fleece, which I'm not crazy about, but the price is unbeatable and I just got excited every time I found something in an actual color besides black or gray.

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Wonderfully useful, with a great waist-creating shape and sleeves wide enough to get a blouse through.

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Love this. Very similar shape to the one I bought, with great cable details.

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Zip front. Cool.

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Another one from Vince. I dunno who this Vince guy is, but he makes nice sweaters.

I also showed a couple of good misses-sized ones on my last post. Go check 'em out.

So there you go. These sweaters are great on their own with a cami or shell, but they're also wonderful with a long sleeve underneath them. It's a great way of layering to show off a wonderful patterned top, or those beautiful long gloves you bought because there are so many this season. (It's also nice to wear a dolman-sleeved sweater at dinner and not drag the sleeve through your risotto. But maybe that's a concern only I have.)

Let me know what you think!

A quick word on my week-long absence: I've been a spotty correspondent lately, I know, and I do apologize but I don't see it changing for a bit. I've been busy working and have had company and I leave for a two-week trip in less than two weeks. So right now I'm scrambling to get my last-minute ducks in a row before leaving for London & Paris, and that includes (pray for me!) trying to winnow down my usual enormous packing into a smaller, more maneuverable suitcase (2 weeks in November! I need sweaters!!), and sewing at least one more pair of slacks to take with me. I have a lot of wonderful things planned for my trip, which I'll be sure to tell you about as soon as I come home, but I'm afraid until then it's going to be hard for me to find a lot of time to write. But keep those cards & letters coming, friends! (And wish me luck with the packing!)

Photos: Style Spy,,,,,,,,

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

With This Skirt, I Thee Wed

A reader writes:

I bought a skirt recently to wear to a wedding. It's a fairly casual wedding, outdoors at a farm.The fabric is burgundy with an off-white print, and the print is fairly loud. Also, the skirt doesn't seem to look good with a shirt hanging down covering part of it up. The other challenge, btw, is that I am plus-sized, and I have a very modest budget for the shirt. (The skirt was $17 on sale, and I liked that price a lot!) Can you help me find a shirt?

Well, of course I can! It's what I do.

First of all, it's a very cute skirt, it seems to fit you well, and the length is perfect. I'm glad to hear it's a casual wedding, because the skirt, while festive, is not what you'd call formal by a long shot. This is good because it means you'll be able to wear it for other occasions, not just dressy ones. (Here I must interject and say that in general, I disapprove of the informal wedding, for the purely selfish reason that it deprives me of a perfectly good excuse for getting good & rigged up in the fancywear.)

Now, before I get into the meat of the act, I'm going to offer some suggestions for those who are shopping for a specific occasion. First of all, resist the temptation to buy something you have nothing to wear with,
especially if you are working on a time constraint and/or budget. It may be a wonderful blouse at a terrific price, but if you buy it you have instantly doubled your shopping load, because now you have to buy something to wear with it. Before you leave on your shopping trip, do a good look around your closet and note any separates you have that might be appropriate to the event, especially any you particularly love and feel good in. Also do a mental inventory of your shoes, because you have to wear something on your feet. (Even at a wedding on a farm.) And then, when you find yourself standing in front of the adorable garment in the store, click back through your mental inventory. If what you come up with to wear with said garment is bupkes, pass. If the dress is gorgeous and a bargain but you don't have any shoes or a bag at home to wear with it -- well, it's suddenly not a bargain anymore, is it, because now you have to come up with those things.

The corollary to this, however, is: if, while shopping, you serendipitously find something truly wonderful and affordable that fits you & makes you look fantastic that you don't necessarily have a specific occasion for, buy it anyway.
When the Fashion Gods throw you a bone, grab it, because you cannot count on getting tossed a nice meaty one when you really need it. ("Omigod, hubby's office holiday party is this Friday and between carting the kids around, making sure the German shepherd makes it to the vet for his teeth cleaning, Christmas shopping for the in-laws and my own job, I have approximately 15 minutes to find something to wear!" Or a variation thereof. Sound familiar?) I have a truly spectacular Martin Grant dress that retailed for over $2k that I found at a Neiman Marcus outlet for something like 85% off. It fits me like it was made for me, it's elegant, gorgeous, beautiful... I've had it for months and I still haven't worn it. No matter. At some point, I'm going to get an invitation to a wedding or a cocktail party and there it will be hanging, ready for the wearing.

But let's get back to Katie's skirt problem.

First off, let's deal with color. Of course, if you can find a deep red or cream to match the pattern, that would probably be ideal. I also think you could get away with black, although if you do go with black try to make the top short-sleeved or sleeveless to keep it from overwhelming the skirt. I also think a subtle, shimmery gold would work with these colors, possibly camel, and -- believe it or not -- olive green. (Olive green & burgundy or wine love each other. Really. Try it & see.) Of course, with this pattern you definitely need a solid-color top.

I see what you're saying about the skirt not wanting something hanging over it, because of the wide waist yoke. But I do think that if you were wearing something like a fine-gauge knit sweater that hit you just below the waist and had a straight hemline that didn't argue with the seam of the yoke it would work.

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This is quite sweet. It comes in other colors, but I'm mostly showing it to you for the shape. (The details in the photos of very light-colored or black garments tend to get lost, so I'm showing you other colors if they have them so you can see what's going on.)

This is also very nice
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if you could get a matching or coordinating shell for underneath. Here are some more knit top ideas.

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This comes in ivory or black.

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This comes in camel, cream, and black.

And those could be tucked in, as well, if you really didn't love them over the skirt.

I love the idea of this little cardi with a shell or cami underneath it. Very cute.

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Now. We can also go the tucked-in route. These blouses aren't shown tucked in, but all of them are a shape that would work with the skirt.

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This comes in a color called "oyster" that might or might not be what we're looking for -- it's so hard to tell on the computer.

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Again, not the right color, but a great shape.

This is lovely:
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And this might be perfect:

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Love the idea of this:

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And you could get so much wear out of it post-wedding. Great little jacket to throw on with jeans or khakis.

As far as footwear goes... If you go with a black top, black shoes are great. If you go with a warmer-colored top (ivory, camel, red), then I'd go with tan or brown shoes rather than black. Black might seem a little heavy with those color combinations.

I also suggest checking out the Manolo's Big Girl Blog for other great online sources for women's sizes. Those gals know their stuff.

I hope that helps, Katie! Let me know how things turn out!


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meet Fiona

I got a friendly little e-mail from Cole Haan this morning, inviting me to "meet Fiona." Here she is:

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This is a really, really lovely pump from Cole Haan, and best of all it's apparently imbued with NikeAir technogoodies, so it's comfy on the feet. It's available in low- & mid-heels, as well, and the range of sizes on the high-heeled black patent goes from 4 to 11 (mine goes to 11!), with AAs for almost every size!

These are not cheap shoes, I know. They're not Louboutin-spendy, but with sales tax you're looking at about $300. This is an investment shoe for most people, but as your footwear advisor I'd say they are probably a very wise investment. A perfect, all-purpose pump that's actually pretty comfortable? Worth every dime.

(Here I must insert a reminder of my recent caveat about the Sliding Comfort Scale of High Heels. Remember -- ain't enough Nike technowizardry in the world to make 3 1/2" heels feel like your bedroom slippers after about four hours. Adjust your expectations accordingly, or live with the disappointment.)

Those people at Cole Haan are some clever little elves. I've raved about their shoes here before -- I have several pairs and I got some new ones the other day:
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Style Spy is headed across the pond next month -- three days in London followed by a week in Paris (Go ahead! Envy me!! Bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!!!!) -- and the quest for chic-yet-not-torturous shoes is neverending. I'd had my eye on these for a while now, and then out of the blue they went on sale! Even better! So I ordered a pair (my local Cole Haan boutique didn't have them in my size and so they very obligingly sent me a pair from somewhere else, with no shipping charges) and they came the other day and I just love them. They were quite snug in the ball when I put them on (I do find that Cole Haan shoes tend to run a bit narrow), but they gave a bit as I wore them, and after a few hours of errand-running, they were still feeling good. A morning in & out of my car in Austin is not quite the same as a day on the Paris cobblestones, I'm aware, but I'm feeling positive about it. And this weekend I'm getting a visit from Sian the English Rose (hooray!) and I shall test them again during what is sure to be a couple of days of marathon outlet shopping. (If you want to see pure happiness, present a London fashionista with YSL at American outlet sale prices. You can almost hear the rustle of angels' wings.)

I hope if anyone actually picks up a pair of the Fionas they'll write & let me know how they feel. If I make it up to the Cole Haan store any time soon, I'll try on a pair & let you guys know what I think.

Happy shopping!


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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Boobs & Boys: Something for Everyone!

It’s been a long little while since Style Spy went on a Stakeout, and so Saturday night I struck out with my camera, my blue Miu Miu mary janes, and two intrepid friends to have a few glasses of wine and hopefully be wowed by someone else out doing the same thing.

Readers, it was slim pickin's.

Slim pickin's for my kind of blog, that is. Had I been the sort of Style Spy who put photos of fashion disasters on the interwebs, oh, I would have been set for a couple of weeks. I am sorry to report that, if judged by last night’s evidence, we must conclude that the women in Austin are not as style-savvy as one might hope, and that the addition of lots & lots of money doesn’t really seem help at all – although we already knew that, didn’t we?

Here is one of Style Spy’s Eternal Laws of Fashion:

Just because an outfit is expensive doesn’t make it good.

Here is another, and I’m telling you – ignore this at your peril:

Just because you CAN wear something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

Both of these laws have a lot to do with the way the offending garment fits. The most beautiful Valentino dress in the world is not going to work its rightful magic if you are squeezed into it like a bratwurst. And just because you can squeeeeze into it doesn’t mean it fits you. If you cannot breathe, if you panic because you’ve dropped your car keys, if you are reluctant to hug a friend you unexpectedly ran into because you’re not sure what those contortions might do to your carefully arranged bits & pieces, the dress is too small. If the dress requires more thought re: support mechanisms than, “Hmm. This one is going to need some Spanx,” it’s too small. If you cannot find (even after trying on Every. Single. One of them at Every. Single. Department store in the mall) a support mechanism that allows you to wear a dress without unsightly bulges and rolls (And I’m not talking about the ordinary ins & outs of the female form here, before you start yelling at me – those I love and encourage. I’m talking about the more sinister and unpleasant effects of elastic & other types of constriction.), the dress is too small. (Or just badly made, in which case also you should purge it from your life.)

If your clothes are too big, you look slovenly, sloppy, unkempt. This is never good. But if your clothes are too small? You look cheap. And that’s even worse.

Here’s another important Eternal Law of Fashion, this one aimed especially at avoiding the dreaded Look of Cheapness:

Tits or Legs. Pick One.

If your dress is so short that you should carry around a towel in order to sit hygienically in public places, resist the urge to display the handiwork of your plastic surgeon. One or the other. If you have great legs – god bless you. Work ‘em. If you have a lovely d├ęcolletage, who could blame you for showing it off? But if you are fortunate enough to be graced with both, well, I’m afraid you face a sartorial Sophie’s Choice each & every time you get dressed. Flip a coin, or alternate, or devise a logarithm. Whatever. But choose.

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Or you'll look like this. Seriously, what is WRONG with this woman?

At this time, I’m going to go way out on a politically incorrect limb and say some things that might upset some folks. I apologize for any potential hurt feelings, but Style Spy was traumatized last night, and needs to vent.

Why is it that the direct result of getting breast implants appears to be the irresistible urge to expose said implants as fully as possible at all times?

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Seriously. I saw a truly shocking display of… um… flesh last night and without exception the goods were fake. (Not to mention the new podiatrist I saw for the first time last week who was obviously on quite an aggressive self-renovation program. I don’t care if you’re wearing a lab coat over the strappy camisole, that kind of cleavage is not appropriate for a doctor’s office.)

How do I know they were fake? Oh, puh-leeeeez…

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And yet… sitting next to me was my friend A, a curvy blonde bombshell with a truly pulchritudinous poitrine (which translates to “spectacular rack”). This is the body A came with – she’s had this shape her entire adult life, and one cannot help but admire the restraint with which she treats these potentially devastating weapons. She occasionally indulges in a bit of tasteful cleavage, but just enough. (A cleavage aperitif, as it were.) A little goes a long way in this area. A knows this and acts accordingly. Consequently, though she has a shape that could easily lend itself to looking cheap, she never, ever does.

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(Or you could do what Camilla Parker Bowles does and distract the eye with many shiny sparklies. Dang. That is some... necklace. Seriously, I think she looks great here, but with jewelry like that, who NEEDS cleavage?)

Is it just that I only notice the fake ones because they’re so obviously fake? This is possible, I suppose. But of all the women whose exposed chestal zones caused me & my companions last night to gasp in dismay (Seriously – multiple times we actually gasped. There was a real potential for spit takes.), not a one of ‘em was sporting original equipment.

And so, dear readers, my Stakeout was almost a bust (yeah, I know…). Not completely, because I enjoyed the company of my friends, and I had some nice wine, and the weather was lovely for sitting outdoors and talking about fashion and life.

Plus, we saw these guys:

And if I can’t show you fabulous fashion, I can at least show you cute guys in cool clothes.

This is Nelson (in hat) and Jason. They work nearby the restaurant where we were lounging at a clothing store called Metropark, and they were wearing store wares. The looks are probably a little more Willliamsburg hipster than Style Spy herself could pull off, but these guys looked great. That rosary t-shirt especially intrigues me; I asked Jason if it was Galliano – it has a very Galliano vibe about it, don’t you think? I’m actually thinking I might be able to work that into the wardrobe this winter (perhaps under my incredibly fierce black Boudicca jacket, with a straight gray or black skirt and my Weitzman Goliaths). A wants the Eat the Rich t-shirt for her boyfriend, and can we talk about how much I love a young man in a hat? I loved the way these fellas owned the clothes they were wearing – it was fun to watch them walk by. I’m definitely dropping by there to score some stuff for my 19-year old nephew, and maybe something for me as well.

How was your weekend? See anything good?

Photos:,, Acclaim Images,, Style Spy

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lust In My Soles

The other day I told you that there were so many, many gorgeous-beyond-belief shoes in the Alexander McQueen show that they would need a separate post. Well, here it is!

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I know I showed you these the other day but they were so good I thought they deserved a reprise. I'm just completely gaga for the shape of these shoes. They're substantial without being clunky, and so, so sexy. Most of the shoes from the show riffed on this theme.

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Here we have what looks like black patent with a silver toe cap. The silver cap is the bit that gives me pause here -- I never wear silver, and so that turns me off a bit. At the risk of being far too matchy-matchy, I'd have trouble with that, since I like all my metals to be the same. (I only carry gold doubloons in my wallet.)

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These are the first ones again -- the detail photos are much better on than on, and it seems as though the lighting in this show made some rather dramatic changes as it went on, but who cares, just mmmmmmm, look at the pretty, pretty red shoes that Style Spy covets mightily.

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Okay, no problem with the silver toe caps here, because they have very cleverly been left off completely! Let me count the ways I love this:
1. Reptile
2. Peep toe
3. Ankle strap
4. Pink
'Nuff said.

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Here we have silver satin trimmed in leather. This gives a good shot of the gorgeous square throat of this shoe, and I really love an interior platform, because it helps with the heel height. (And that is a mighty high heel, it's got to be a good 4 1/2 inches.)

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If I ever get my hands on this shoe, I'll probably spend our first day together curled up in a corner of my couch with it resting on my lap, crooning to myself quietly and occasionally rubbing it against my cheek. I'll have to be careful not to let the tears leave watermarks on the satin.

Although, the satin might cause me to go more for these instead:

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Satin shoes generally make me nervous. I'm the sort of person who often kicks her heels together when she walks, and that can be rough on fabric shoes. I'll risk it with a color fabric that won't show wear as much, but I think that fuchsia, much as I adore it (And oh, I do -- he used a lot of it in this collection and it delighted me. I've been having a bit of a fuchsia moment lately.) would be a bad risk. Now, these beautiful things, being made of snakeskin, might not be all that much sturdier than the satin, but we have solved that problem by making the shoe a slingback! Genius! Seriously, this thing... I just love that red trim on the snakeskin -- there's a wonderful pair of Blahniks this season at Neiman Marcus that I fell head over well... heels for, but these, dare I say it, are even better.

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The red is definitely patent, and I think the gold is, too, but it may also be some sort of fabulous fabric.

I think I love these most of all:

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Again with the feathers. And the pale pink satin. So delicate, so beautiful, so ethereal. I really love that at first glance it reads like a little chiffon ruffle -- it's only on closer inspection that you realize they're feathers. I would get over my Fear of Satin pretty damn fast if it meant gettin' those on my hooves. I just want to talk again about how much I love that snubbed toe. It's gotten a lot of play from a number of shoe designers the last couple of seasons, and I think it's a great look. It's still narrow enough to be feminine and sexy, but not as overtly so as a pointed toe. And it provides for a little more room at the front of the shoe, which is not a bad thing for most of us, without being that horrible wide platypus bill of a square toe we were wearing (what were we thinking??) in the late 90s.

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In case a few feathers weren't enough... Is it over the top? Maybe. Do I care? Heavens, no! Style Spy almost always comes down firmly on the side of Nothing Succeeds Like Excess. (Tasteful excess, of course, which does make it a lot trickier.) Speaking of which...

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I think I would wear these, but with the ankle ties around the actual ankles, and only one or two butterflies. I've never liked that high wrapping of ankle ties, climbing up the leg to the knee like that. It looks awfully affected to my eye, and as you can see, in order to keep them up there they have to be tied tightly enough to risk losing your lower leg to gangrene. (And also, it reminds me of this mess:

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Which none of us wants, under any circs, to emulate. That outfit, as my friend Plumcake says, makes my slappin' hand itch.)

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Here's some ties done more to my liking, although I might wrap them around once more. Those are so long I think I'd worry about stepping on them. Love the simplicity of these, though, and the luxe-ness of the gold tassels. I generally approve of tassels, with a few exceptions.

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See, these are goth in the good kind of way. Not the Hot Topic, sullen 19-year old, black Wet & Wild nail polish kind of way, but the Catherine Deneuve in "The Hunger" kind of way -- slightly scary but still sexy.

And I'll just throw in that while I really liked these beautiful lace... um... gosh, what would you call these?

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Socks? Spats? (Actually, it looks like they're pantyhose with the lace detailing around the ankles.) Whatever they are, the lace is certainly beautiful, and I'm all for using old materials in new & interesting ways, but I'm not thinking these are going to capture the imagination of the fashion public in any serious way.

Hey, ya know, while we're at it, let's chat for a moment about the purses McQueen showed. 'Cause they were fantastic.

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These gorgeous clutches had handles on the back to slip the fingers through.

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Oh! The red croc!! Oh!! See, I could get over my matchy-matchy fears if this was one of the things that was matching. No such thing as too much red croc, in Style Spy's opinion.

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That's a lot of snakeskin. And I say that in approving tones.

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Good googly-moogly, that's spectacular. I don't remember McQueen showing this many bags in a collection before, I worry that he's succumbing to the pressure to create an It Bag to float his line, and that's never good. On the other hand -- that bag? IS good. Really, really good.

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Still I am dying for a perfect little jewel box of a clutch, like these. I adore the one with the tassels, it looks like a perfume bottle.

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It begs for a really good manicure, that little purse.

Okay, so there you have 'em. Beautiful accessories from my darling Alexander. Looking at these caused my feet to sweat lustfully and my wallet to quiver with trepidation. Anything catch your eye?

Photos:,, Associated Press

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