Arguably the strongest footwear statement this season, wedges are no longer the clodhoppers they used to be. In fact, Susie Sheffman, fashion director at FASHION magazine, calls them "every woman's best friend," citing the marriage of height and comfort. Plus, they give gams a starring role. "They're leg-lengthening," Sheffman says, especially when worn with wide-leg or flared trousers (they complement dresses, too). According to Ron White, owner of Ron White Shoes in Toronto, espadrille wedges have "sold like crazy" this season. Earthy materials such as cork, braided jute, wood and suede are the most ubiquitous; for added edge, look for distinctive details, such as animal-print straps or geometric designs that seamlessly meld the wedge with the upper.
Think of this fluoro grouping as another way to tap into the intense colour blocking that has permeated ready-to-wear fashion. Sheffman notes that a neon green pump is not nearly as big a leap as committing to head-to-toe coral à la Jil Sander. "Bright heels are a terrific way to play with colour in an inexpensive, non-committal way," she says. "They're like candy for the feet." White points out that brights are at their best if they're satin or patent leather. And while a stiletto in a super-saturated shade adds an instant jolt to any neutral ensemble, go bolder by pairing it with more colour. The result: artistic expression taken to even greater heights.
Three years after their breakout season, gladiators haven't retreated; but this spring and summer, the silhouette is more refined, the ankle strap and overall design no longer aggressive. Other sandals following in their footsteps are goddess-inspired and feature eye-catching flourishes: feathers, flowers and haute hippie beading. For Sheffman, "the flat boho offers the fantasy that you live on the beach." She adds that they make a perfect match for the new maxi skirts and dresses. Calling the soles "pancake flat," White says they speak to the standby seventies flower-child sensibility. And don't forget preppy espadrille sneakers and pretty ballet flats; both give good mileage for summer strolling.
Styling by Tiyana Grulovic. Pedicure by Leeanne Colley for Tips Nail Bar and Spa/Page One Management (www.pageonemanagement.ca)