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Shooz - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 5th, 2013

08:53 am - Shooz

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So I've decided to revamp my work wardrobe. This stems from a bunch of things, but foremost my job is about to become more public-facing again, and since the whole thing's taken a step up (ie, now I'm running the meetings instead of just being a contributor to them), I kind of feel like I should dress the part.

I'm not into the whole corporate power suit severe shoulder pads* thing, and anyway that sort of thing would alienate me from the people I'm supposed to be connecting with, and our work dresscode is smart casual business. Which is a very broad set of parameters..


So the first thing I did was think about what was in my wardrobe that I can still live with. I have a bunch of skirts and a couple of dresses that are suitable, but I owned no pants** and there was a bit of a lack of tops that weren't long-sleeved, scoop necked and black.

So I went to Farmers (local chain shop that sells work clothing for reasonable prices) and bought a pair of pants and a couple of button up shirts. Things I still have to figure out include something to replace the black cardigans I tend to wear as a layering thing***, that work to keep me warm and look reasonably smart but aren't quite the whole business jacket hog. Preferably something that will go with the colours I wear, which range from neutrals through to an acid green pencil skirt and a hot pink fitted shirt****.

So black then. Or grey. *sigh* I am so bored with black.

And then there's shoes. For the last few years, I've managed with my stompy, flat-soled gogo length black boots. They are a Wellington staple and in winter the uniform for women is pretty much black leggings under a skirt of some kind, with these boots. And it's great. I can wear these boots anywhere - they are comfortable and grippy and practical and keep my feet warm and they really do go with pretty much everything. Hence my having worn them forever. But they are ready for retirement - they are likely to end up as part of a costume because they are already worn in. I'll definitely replace them. But the boots can only go so far.

I have a pair of reasonably dressy and comfortable skatey shoes that work with pants, jeans and the like. So that's cool.

But what about non-skatey shoes, the type you can wear with skirts? I am really crap at shoes. I own:

A pair of roman sandals
A pair of work boots
Snowboarding boots
A pair of low heeled pumps in black (old as fuck, like from my school ball days)
A pair of strappy sandals in black with a heel about 2 inches that look nice but I can't walk more than about 1km in them
Ugg boots that I inherited from Mum
Some slippers with sheep on them that Mum Wheel gave me
Some black flats with a small open toe.

So as you can see, I am shoe-ly challenged***** in terms of smart casual work-wearable ones, anyway. Today, I'm wearing a black pencil skirt with a pink fitted shirt and stay-up stockings (ooh lala!), and the black flats. Because they are the only thing that go with this outfit.

On my walk down the hill I discovered that while nice and pretty and suitable for wearing with a pencil skirt, my black flats are not actually all that suitable for walking in. They keep flipping off my feet - maybe they're a bit big but they weren't when I bought them, and I can see that it's likely to be an inherent problem with little shoes because they have such a big hole for your foot that there's nothing to stick them on. I guess I could wear running shoes for my walk to work then change here, but that seems like a lot of effort.

So anyway, I think I need another pair of shoes. Ideally, one would be good, and they'd go with everything. But realistically, I think a grey pair and a brown pair might be in order. But what sort of shoes to buy?

TO THE INTERNET!

Except, on the internet, everyone wears four inch heels to work, which, while I've done it, isn't really what I'm after. And when I googled 'smart casual business women's shoes flat' I got lots of pictures of shoes with nobody wearing them, so I couldn't see what they go with. There were also these:



I don't think I'm quite ready for brogues yet, just saying.


So, um, I'm looking for suggestions. What are your favourite work shoes that go with everything? Bonus points for being flat heeled and practical while also pretty. No big ask, nooo..

* My shoulders don't need no stinking padding!
** My work has yet to have a No Pants day.
*** Wellington requires layering. Even in midsummer.
**** Not worn together. At least, not in public. Although, purple.... would make me look like an avocado.
***** Yes I know, women and shoes. I hold that if skirts and dresses were standard wear for men, they would also end up with the shoe thing. If I wore nothing but pants, I'd own two pairs of shoes max. Nyah.

Comments:

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From:meathiel
Date:November 4th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Don't ask me ... I still wear mainly Doc Martens style boots to work! ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 4th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
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I could probably get away with that - but possibly not with a pencil skirt!
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From:khaybee
Date:November 4th, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
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I like these: http://www.overlandfootwear.co.nz/damson-p-3804/colour/Blue#colour=Blue

and these: http://zierashoes.com/Style/299/vail?cat=12&

Each of those companies has a range very similar to the model I posted. Sorry I didn't post them in a pretty way :)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
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Those second ones, while not the sort of thing I'd usually consider, do look like they might fit the bill. And they probably look quite good on, too.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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I've always given scoots the side-eye, because they look like they don't know what they want to be. But short boots I could possibly live with, and mary janes sound like a good option too.

Hmm. I like the idea of keeping work shoes at work - after all, it's the only place I'll wear them..
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From:bekitty
Date:November 4th, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
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I have a pair of zip-up leather ankle boots with grippy soles. They're fantastic, and they go with pretty much everything I own.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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I like ankle boots with floaty dresses, and atm I don't have a pair. Hmm.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
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i suck at shoe purchasing.. mostly cause i dont like any of them.. i like boots.. with no heals, like yours but shorter..yeah.. i have several pairs of fancy dress shoes..

so places i would,and will be looking, are gubbs, which is opposite the town hall, this shop usually has a selection of shoes at reasonably price, in styles that i generally like.. so less of those six inch flashy as all hell can't walk in shoes.. but more grownup business women shoes, and some have a little quirky.. i got my green boots from them..which i wear with pencil skirts.. (see pic.twitter.com/kyeW2Jogul to find out how i dressed in the dark this morning.. O.O *coughs*) they had nice black ones to..although more of a winter boot than summer, i reccon..

there might of been another place i was thinking about.. but alas.. it has slipped my fuzzy moving brain today.. ack..

err yeah.. shoes and i we don't like eachother..
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From:tatjna
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
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As someone who spent the first 12 years of her career in gumboots and later, leather work boots, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of shoe shopping.

However, thanks for the rec. I'll pop down there at lunchtime and have a squiz. I keep forgetting they are there..
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From:siobhan63
Date:November 4th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
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Shoes are the bane of my existence (slight exaggeration) - I don't understand women who have closets full of shoes because I'm lucky if I can find one pair that meets all of my criteria.

But, what I do end up doing re: shoes is that I keep my "work shoes" - e.g. slightly dressy shoes - at work because that is really the only place I will ever wear them. To get to and from work, I look for a more comfortable shoe (not running shoes) with a sensible heel that works with both trousers and skirts (for 1-2 times a year I don't wear trousers) and wear those. My work shoes are usually pumps with a very low heel - never more than 1" high - and I can't stand walking (outside) in pumps, hence why they get left at the office. My current wear outside shoes are Hush Puppies, similar to this model (I've had them a few years now so can't find the exact model online anywhere):

http://www.stepfootwear.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/300x300/602f0fa2c1f0d1ba5e241f914e856ff9/e/q/equalize_black.png

That works for weather that doesn't require heavier footwear (in other words, as long as it's not actually snowing). I don't actually walk to work - just to the subway station and back, so I'm not outside very long, maybe 5-10 minutes max. I hate shopping for shoes, I hate shoes in general. I'd be much happier barefoot.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
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I had a quick squiz round the shops at lunch time and everything they have in at the moment is minimal and sandally because it's getting on for summer and apparently nobody wears proper shoes in summer.

I shall have to search further afield..
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:November 4th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
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I third the suggestion to have walking shoes and "keeping at work" shoes. It's also great for days with surprise weather and will keep your work shoes looking great for a lot longer (if you drive in even low heels, you can rub the back of the right heel from working the gas pedal). Plus you have more options for things like suede or thin soles, that work great in an office but not out and about. Also, as you hunt for pants, figure out what your heel height 'window' is and get all shoes and pants within the window. My window is 1-2 inch heels. All my dress shoes are in this heel range (save one, I'm not perfect) and all my pants work with this heel height (all jeans go with flats). So I don't ever have to worry that a particular combination will drag on the ground or give me 'high waters'.

For jackets, I have a couple of one-button blazers that read as more casual that a suit coat. I can use them to dress up jeans or wear with pants without looking all formal and suited. I frequently roll up the sleeves and wear them with a knit top or t-shirt under. Neutrals can also include grey, white, navy, brown (dark brown is the least likely to clash with stuff), cream, and white.

I first upgraded my wardrobe when I was 30 (a bra to work? crazy!). I did a second version when I was 35 (pants, low heels, button down shirts). Recently I've had to go to the full corporate look thing (though shoulder pads are kept to a minimum) including a wool suit that I spend more money on than I ever thought I would, including tailoring. But that's only a few times a year, so I expect it to last forever. Confession -- I still wear jeans most days.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
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Yep, I'm definitely hunting out a blazer. And I could cope with a small heel as long as I didn't have to walk far in it. I bloody hate seeing women crippled by their shoes so they can't even run across the road.
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From:tyellas
Date:November 4th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
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I cased the shops this weekend on a "refresh/upgrade my business wardrobe" mission, too. And I found two things that might help your wardrobe gaps.

For something jacketlike that's more you, I'd check out Maggy Potter on Willis street - their sale rack had some Very Interesting black or gray ponte open jackets. They were professional and sleek but also not overstructured or conservative. (They didn't work on me because of my Prodigious Bustline.) Also, they don't need to be drycleaned, and they have no shoulder padding. The store also had some longline lapel blazers, off the sale rack. This is a new blazer look and it, too, would look good on you. Tell them "Jen and her redheaded friend from Saturday" sent you - Jen is a longtime customer there.

Robyn something-or-other right across the street had some linen wrap jackets that, again, weren't padded and were edgier than lots of business wear.

Glassons has some very cheap versions of the longline blazer thing, too.

Edited at 2013-11-04 11:29 pm (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 01:14 am (UTC)
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You're the second person who's mentioned blazers. I shall have to check it out. Thanks!

I'm not a huge fan of ponte jackets, because I'm kind of blocky anyway and they tend to emphasise it.
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From:subtle_haven
Date:November 5th, 2013 01:09 am (UTC)
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Ehh, I wish I could help, but because I struggle with the same problem, I settled for shoes of the four-inch-heel variety. In fact, my newest work shoes are just like these ones you don't like, with a heel. http://cdna.lystit.com/photos/2013/07/25/aldo-cognac-karina-product-1-12119180-924300145_large_flex.jpeg
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
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Wow, that is an impressive mixture of everything I don't like in a shoe! It should get a prize for something.

However, I reckon you could pull it off. Those shoes require attitude.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:November 5th, 2013 04:13 am (UTC)
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i wear keens - they have some pretty boots that are also good for actual walking.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:November 5th, 2013 04:16 am (UTC)
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oh! also - for sweater things, you could try a bamboo sweater from barefoot dreams, they have a nice dressy sweater thing that's also amazingly warm, in a few colors. http://www.barefootdreams.com/c-10-women.aspx
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From:caycos
Date:November 5th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)

Thoughts

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Ezibuy aren't too bad for basic work clothes. They won't necessarily last forever, but will get you there. Max also have some good basic lines - normally hidden down the back of the shop, skip the stuff at the front it's all a bit too fashion forward ;)

For shoes, I don't mind Mischief shoes, slightly pricier than some of the options above but potentially better quality. Also seconding Overland - again not the absolute cheapest but should last.

Also, check out asos.com - once you work out your size it's pretty good, and free international shipping ftw. Their size charts (only IME) run slightly big.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

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Free international shipping! *goes to look*

I used to buy things from Ezibuy but somewhere along the way I got really bad at sizing things for myself. Maybe I should have another look.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
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You know the sad part is I could totally pull that off. I have to be careful not to dress up too far because when I do, people find me intimidating. ;-/
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:November 5th, 2013 11:25 am (UTC)
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Um, well, I don't know whether you can get them over there, but I have sort-of brogues. They're sort of brogue-style jazz shoes, made with really soft leather and they're not anywhere near as clunky as those bad boys up there.


They're called Carousel Trick for some unfathomable reason
.

I'm currently on my second pair, I walked a hole in my last lot. They're really light and comfy and flexible, and look cute with my work trousers, my jeans and dresses/skirts. I bought them because I got fed up of wearing trainers with my jeans, I felt dead scruffy, if I wasn't wearing heels.


Also, for pencil skirts, I got a really cute pair (how many times have I said cute so far, ugh) of Victorian style ankle-boots, which also go great with all my dresses and chunky tights in winter. I try not to walk too far in them because they've got a little stilletto heel and I get fed up of replacing it, but for kicking around the office (or the pub) they're great (nice soft leather too). Sadly I got them like two years ago, maybe more, so I can't find them to show you... These are pretty close though, or if you want something a bit more... quirky, maybe check out Irregular Choice?


I always used to take a rucksack to work anyway, when I walked, so carrying a change of shoes wasn't too bad, and now I drive, so it's even easier.

Edited at 2013-11-05 11:34 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Ooh I like the granny boots - although I'd prefer a flat or smaller heel, they really are quite appealing.
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From:eska_rina
Date:November 5th, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
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haha, I usually wear brogues, though normally not ones as heavy as those!

What about looking after some mary janes?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 5th, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Mary janes are a great idea! Weirdly, they seem to not be around much at this time of year in the shops. But they are still available online. I see a pair in my future for sure, along with maybe some granny boots.
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From:rivet
Date:November 7th, 2013 08:22 am (UTC)
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I live in Mary Janes in the warm/dry season and boots when cold/wet. I keep a pair of heels under my desk for emergency professionalism.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 7th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Emergency professionalism is my new favourite work buzzword.
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