Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Designer Challenge

My first project with Charlotte STYLE Magazine will be to pit a designer shoe against a similar, more affordable version of the showcased trend.

This time it's mesh booties. The contenders: Jimmy Choo vs. Kate Preston (Off Broadway Brand)

In dollars and cents, including tax it's $1045 vs. $54

The Challenge:

I'll be covering Fashion's Night Out at the Metropolitan in Charlotte, NC on September 8th. I'll be wearing the Jimmy Choo booties while my glamourous stepdaughter will literally follow in my footsteps in the lookalikes for one of the biggest fashion events in the Queen City. Both shoes are brand-new, never-worn condition.

I'll be video logging and photographing the entire event including the normal wear and tear our feet and shoes will go through. Will our feet bleed? Will the sole get ratty? Maybe a heel will break? What happens if we step in a puddle?

We'll pit the shoes against the elements and only normal wear and tear and then report back.

Want to know exactly how much Choo you're getting for your money? Stay tuned here, on, or come see me at the event!! It starts at 6pm and you can get your tickets at Just put the date and the event name and you're all set to purchase!! See you there!!


In the Beginning...

Before we really start this blog relationship, you and me, let me give you a little introduction to why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm excited to be the resident shoe girl at Charlotte STYLE Magazine and I'd like to take this opportunity to peel back a layer of myself for you. Enjoy!

I haven't been a shoe addict my entire life. I basically just wore what was comfortable. I had a pair of basic black heels, some tennies, and a few sandals but that was it. I think my love and fascination with shoes started with Sex and the City.

I found myself ignoring the plots and zooming in on the different kinds of shoes Carrie always wore. They were so fun, so over the top. I identified with Carrie, probably because I'm a writer. I loved seeing her personality translated flawlessly into a pair of gorgeous shoes. Carrie always had the fun shoes. Samantha, the sex kitten, always had the sexy shoes. Charlotte always had stylish shoes with a girlish touch, and Miranda was always sensible.

I was in real estate at the time. I found myself specializing in the high end market due to some luck and some referrals, but I realized very quickly in noticing the clothes the women I sold to wore, that I felt very out of place. To sell fine things, I needed to look like I understood them. I had a pretty nice car, and okay clothes, but I decided to treat myself to a REALLY nice pair of shoes after my next big commission.

I went through fashion magazines with more scrutiny and learned that I was always drawn to the Louboutins. It wasn't just the shiny red sole, it was his designs. I could always tell a Louboutin, by the shape, and the red sole was just a confirmation of my suspicion. The problem, though, was that Christian Louboutin heels cost over $900 including tax. There was no way my husband was going to let me buy a pair of $900 shoes no matter how I spun it.

So, I began to save $25 from every paycheck I got. I saved all my change and cashed it in. I extreme couponed and I calculated how much I would save and then I got that much cash back every time I went to the grocery store. It took me 7 and a half months to save that money without my husband noticing. I know it was wrong to be deceptive but I desperately wanted them and there was no way he'd understand a $900 pair of shoes. I put all the money on a prepaid Visa gift card so that it wouldn't show up on the bank account. This was so carefully calculated and executed that I'm kind of ashamed.

When I purchased them, I made sure to get black so that I could wear them with anything - - get the most use out of them. I was so proud of them, I just stared at them. I carried them out of the store the way I carried my babies from the hospital. I knew I'd possibly wasted money, but I'd never felt so proud.

I showed them to my husband and he said "That's Nice." So,the shoes didn't radiate any magic that would make my husband notice them any more. They were just shoes to him . I didn't care because if he did notice how awesome they were he would have wanted to know how much they cost.

I wore them to my first real estate meeting. The women noticed, definitely. I just shrugged it off the way it feels so good to do. Of course I had this jerky cat-that-ate-the-mouse smile pasted on so permanently that I'm sure that if I said "These old things?" I would have looked crazy.

They hurt like hell. My feet bled constantly, but I just kept bandaging them up. 6" heels aren't comfy but they make you look so tall and poised!Worse, the beautiful red sole scuffed the first time I wore them. I panicked and took them back to the store. The woman told me this was normal. NORMAL? How do I fix them? She told me to use sole protectors. They were filmy and clear and I fell on my ass the first time I walked on marble. Fail. The other solution was to get them resoled. I didn't have time to send them off, I just decided I'd be more careful. After all, the part people see doesn't really get scratched, just the ball of my feet. Also, if I wore any other shoe, I was afraid my feet would bleed again since I wore a callous from the Louboutins. And I still loved them dearly. The people at my sales meeting complimented me all night. I didn't want to send them off.

The next day, I wore them selling real estate to a couple from Maryland relocating due to the wife's bank job. She noticed the shoes right away. She told me how beautiful they were and said she'd always wanted a pair. She told me she knew that she'd really made it when she could afford a pair of Louboutins. This woman was in the market for a million dollar home. How could she not afford at least one pair? I imagine women like her having a closet full of designer shoes.

She wanted to touch them. She wanted to try them on. I wanted to live in the house I was selling her. It was such a weird flip-flopping of status. She was having to work from home soon because she was having a baby. She told me she admired my ability to just work whenever I wanted. I admired her ability to spend a million dollars on a house and still be humble. She asked for my opinion on the decor and the options to add and she listened more than anyone ever had to me. It could have been that she was just nice. It could have been that I was more confident. Or it could have been the damn shoes.

I felt so confident in those shoes, they were like Dumbo's feather. I had the best sales month I ever had and continued to do well after the purchase of the shoes. I began to train other real estate agents. It was amazing the poise I felt having this empowering wardrobe piece to call my own.

Unfortunately the real estate market started to crash with the national mortgage crisis blowing up. My marriage was also suffering, we had filed for divorce and I had gone back to the airline where I'd worked previously part time to keep funding going. My rich commissions were gone and so was my financial wiggle room. Now I lived in an apartment and was trying to make ends meet on my airline salary. It wasn't practical or physically possible for me to use my $900 6" heels at work. Also, if you're working a job that pays what the airline did, people would make fun of me if they recognized the shoes I was wearing. I was no longer an empowered woman, making my own way. I was clocking in and working nights and weekends for barely enough money to pay for my one bedroom apartment. My kids slept with me in the bed or on the couch.

I kept the shoes in the closet and looked at them from time to time. They reminded me of when I was on top of the world. They made me feel great. They always fit. They always complimented me when everything else seemed to be so hard.

There came a time when I was so low on funding that I made a terrible decision. I needed to sell the shoes to be able to pay my rent. They were the only thing of value I had besides my wedding jewelry and I didn't have the heart to pawn my ring. I had been sick and lost hours at work. I decided the shoes had to go. I sold them for $400 on Ebay and even in their used condition, they still went so fast I had no time to change my mind.

I cried all the way to the post office. I messaged the buyer to please love them as much as I do. She was so sweet, she promised to and this was her first pair and she would love them forever.

Just like that they were gone.

I continued to go to the mall and try on Louboutins when I felt bad. I would just feel the leather, smell them, and revisit that time when I had everything I ever wanted. It made me feel better and it gave me enough fairy dust to keep going. One day, I would buy another pair and I wouldn't have to sneak them. I would have a husband that would love my for my of which was loving shoes and the feeling that a beautiful pair will bring you.

It didn't matter to me that the sole was wearing out, because my soul soared when I had them on. For 2 years I visited Nieman Marcus and pored through fashion magazines and that was good enough. It had to be.

One day, I met a sweet man. That man thought my love of shoes was so goofy . He thought it was cute and funny that I loved shoes, purses, and sparkly things. We would go window shopping together, and I never let him buy. It was always fun to look. I know what it feels like to have gorgeous things, and one day I would buy them for myself.

We went to Nieman Marcus one day and he caught me eyeballing that sexy red sole. I touched a pair and told him the story of the Louboutins and how wonderful they made me feel. He couldn't believe I had actually owned a pair, and saved so hard for it. Especially since I had the commission money, but still had to scrimp and pinch because my husband would never have let me have them. I never gave my husband the chance to let me have them, I just plotted and got them anyway so I know it was an unfair assumption and David agreed with me. He looked with me at the shoes and helped me try on tons of them. I have such small feet I can wear the display ones so I never need salesman help. I just put them on, strut around and get out of there. We did this once or twice, and he'd always kiss me on the forehead and say I was crazy and we'd go get ice cream or dinner.

6 months later, we were engaged. The day he asked me to marry him, I didn't get just a ring. I also got a brand new pair of the very same Louboutins I purchased so long ago. I still have them, I still wear them, and even though the sole is scraped off on the bottom, I don't care. I will send them off for repair and I will keep them forever and ever because I want to keep that feeling as close to me as possible.

I have since purchased other pairs, I find them on Ebay or in boutiques or sample sales, and every single pair gets noticed. They're gorgeous shoes, they're art, and I feel like a beautiful woman wearing them. It's a great feeling, and nothing else does it for me.

When I went through hard times, people would make so many foot references just by default. "Get back up." "Get on your feet" "Hit the ground running" "Baby steps", can you really blame me for always using shoes as motivation and inspiration?

I took the necessary steps in fabulous shoes. I left the airline, and with the confidence my husband helped me find again, I began to rebuild my empire. This time, not real estate..this time writing. It's always been the writing and the photography and attending events. I wrote my bucket list. I started accomplishing everything I could. Since June I have checked off "work for a magazine" , "appear on television", "meet lead singer of one of my favorite bands", and "start my own business". (I still want to check off a ride in a hot air balloon!) I am just getting started, and in my fabulous, beautiful shoes I will put one foot in front of the other until I have finished everything it is I want to do. I will not let anyone tell me what I can or cannot do, because if they try, I will walk my fancy feet out of there and try another door. Life is too short to be idle.

I knew I had my own fairy tale to write, and I know I needed help writing it in some parts, but honestly, I know I'm not alone. After all, remember the Wizard of Oz and Cinderella? Weren't they really just about the shoes?


Xx Shannon