I haven’t spent much time in heels since I moved to NYC 3+ years ago. Comfortable shoes are a must, since walking is a necessity and I’m not a huge fan of the commuting sneaker look. I’m sharing additional research from my recent window shopping, covering Gap, Bloch, Sue London, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Vera Wang Lavender Label.
1) Gap (http://www.gap.com)
Gap has been a hit and miss over the years. I think my last favorite years were 2004/2005 for clothing. I never batted an eye at their shoes until Spring 2010 when they came out with Repetto lookalikes. I bought them on sale, so they are cheap commuting/office shoes. I ran an office door over my foot the other day and scratched a pair. I’m glad I wasn’t wearing something better. It’s hard to get upset over cheap shoes!
There are currently two styles of interest. The city flat and cap toe patent ballet flat.
– The city flat is essentially a leather slipper. It debuted in Fall 2010. They have added colors to the Spring 2011 lineup and patent. Consistent with the gap.com user reviews, they run 1/2 size small. Great for traveling and light walking. No arch support. You will find more colors and markdowns in-store (may vary between store but they do pricematch other stores). Somehow the patent ones were $15 after a markdown and 45% off last weekend. Unfortunately, they make my feet look awful.
– The cap toe patent ballet flat is much more durable. The black toe/tanshoe sold out online over the week and is also hard to find in stores. The burnt orange toe/camel color is much cuter in person. Also runs 1/2 size small. Similarly, look for markdowns in store.
Other Gap shopping notes:
– Stay up to date with their 40-45% off in-store sales by signing up for their Facebook page, read forums, and sign up for e-mail updates.
– If you can’t find what you need, ask a store or call the Gap 800 number to do a store locator search. Neither party has the best information. Stores do chargesends (mail order) and if you have a Gap Silver card, shipping is free! I do this all the time with highly sought after sale items. I have my go-to stores in different regions of the country. Even with the 40% off sales, I find it hard to pay more than 70% for some items.
2) Sue London (http://www.suelondon.com)
When you start talking ballet flats, Sue London usually comes up. They aren’t as readily available, so sales are harder to find. I tried them on at the Theory store in Soho and they were true to size (TTS). They are similar to the Gap city flats – like a slipper – but better quality. Color selection is not as alluring.
Photo credit: 25park.com
You can find them on sale at Neiman Marcus in moss green or burgundy “chalet” red for $80 (and I expect it to drop further) and Wink NYC in slate or bronze for under $70. Reviews consistently complain of the seams and sole coming loose within an year of light use. I find it hard to justify spending $180 on that quality.
3) Bloch (http://www.blochworld.com)
Bloch is often compared to Repetto with more cushioning. Sizing is all over the place with the different styles. I tried the Arabians in a beautiful ochre nude shade. They ran 1/2 size small and would have been perfect, save for the camel toe wrinkling in the toebox. Ugh!
Find them at retail or on sale at Zappos/6pm (6pm sometimes marks them lower than Zappos; same inventory), Endless, Asos, Revolve Clothing, WinkNYC, J.Jill, and Beyond 7 (Showroom Seven’s retail e-store). If you’re in NYC, Showroom Seven has a little outlet in the East Village – Outlet 7, which carries Bloch. They usually have a lot for those who wear 7 or 7.5. Other sizes aren’t as lucky and you have to catch it on the right day. Showroom Seven also reps Orla Kiely and Issa and they carry both brands in the outlet.
4) Marc by Marc Jacobs (http://www.marcjacobs.com/marc-by-marc-jacobs/)
Their flats are a good investment and worth a trip to the cobbler. I haven’t found anything good since Fall 2008 when they added hardware to their flats. They usually run 1/2 size small. Find them at Shopbop, Endless, Bloomingdales, and Zappos. Also note that the MbMJ shop in the West Village NYC is known for having good, random 50-75% off sales.
5) Vera Wang Lavender Label
Their Lillian flat reminds me of Lanvin at less than half the price. In leather and patent leather with a good assortment of colors. Also runs 1/2 size small. I’ve seen them on sale at Cusp (owned by NM) and Nordstrom. You can also find them at Saks and Bloomingdales (eligible for F&F). I tried Lanvin and I can’t justify it, even at 70% off at Barneys!
Photo credit: Nordstrom.com
Let me know if there is anything else I should check out (excluding Tory Burch Revas, which I did not like).