2014: The Year of the Earring?

by Christen

For the most part, I have a knack for predicting trends, both momentary and with longevity. I jumped on the pastel-colored hair bandwagon long before it was “hipster,” and I wanted a fur vest so early on it was difficult to find one. I have had major miscalculations, however. There was the misguided statement in 2003 that leggings were not worth the investment. And of course, the long-held belief (or perhaps wish) that skinny jeans would cede their position as the denim of choice among the majority of women.

While it is too early to tell if I was prescient or just plain wrong, in November of last year I declared that the statement necklace was dead and that 2014 would be the year of the statement earring. It just seems the statement necklace has been around well past its expiration date. The look feels tired. And when something begins to look tired, the trend is typically on its way out.

I’m apparently alone in this view though. On February 24, Women’s Wear Daily published a piece in their Accessories Section (page 6) entitled “The State of the Statement Necklace.” Designers ranging from the sisters behind Dannijo (the brand that made the bib necklace popular) to Gerard Yosca (carried at The Shoe Hive) insisted not only on the continued popularity of the statement necklace but on its relevance to fashion. You see, what they claim has happened is that because it has been around for so long, the trend has broadened to include an incredibly wide variety of shapes and styles, attracting an ever-growing group of jewelry-wearers.

These same designers did, however, point out that they are seeing increased sales of longer pendants and much more delicate pieces–a trend I personally have experienced in my line of work. This still does not mean that the average shopper is ready to make the switch from the necklace to the earring. It seems she is still content to pile on the neck candy, but a transition is happening.

If I learned anything from the WWD piece it is that I may still be right. The statement necklace is going strong and will remain front and center for a while, but it has lost a little of its luster leaving room for the next big thing. And in my opinion, the next big thing will be the earring. All other jewelry is currently experiencing a process of refinement. Cocktail rings have been replaced with tiny gold stacking rings. Bulky necklaces are being replaced by short and dainty chains with barely-there pendants. The only piece of jewelry that is growing in size as well as in popularity is the earring. In its F/W ’13 show, Balmain sent its models down the runway with massive chandelier earrings grazing the collar bone. Rodarte, among others, followed up in S/S ’14 with an amplified and interlocking take on the classic hoop.

What constitutes a statement earring? Really anything substantial: chandelier, drop, oversized studs, tasseled, etc. For the more daring, the look can be worn to the office. A pair of exaggerated studs can transform a shift-dress-and-kitten-heels look from traditional to luxurious–particularly if worn with the very “now” pixie ‘do. For evening, pair chandelier earrings with a boatneck silk blouse, tuxedo pants and pointed black booties. And while others may disagree, this is not the time to double up on the statement pieces. Minimize all other jewelry with versions of the aforementioned daintier trends or let the earrings stand alone. Trust me, one statement is enough as long as you’re making the right one.

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Girl Crush: The AGL Sisters

I’m certain you know by now that one of our favorite brands at the Hive is AGL. Italian leather, superior design, and flawless execution. It simply doesn’t get better. The brand decided to up its social media game recently and has been following the three sisters who run the company as they travel recently. We truly had no idea they were this cool:

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Meet the AGL sisters: Sarah, Vera and Marianna.

Sarah was born in 1978 and is the eldest of the three. She has a degree in business administration and has been the sales department head for well over a decade now. Vera is just two years younger. She graduated with a degree in communication and joined the family business in 2003. Her goal as Creative Director and Communications Manager? To make AGL a truly great brand. We believe she has succeeded. Finally, there’s Marianna, the youngest and according to AGL’s website the “most talented of the Giusti sisters.” She was born in 1982 and lives and breathes shoes. Apparently, she has been designing them since childhood. In 2009, their father Attilio gave her the opportunity to design for AGL, prior to which he had been the exclusive designer. As the AGL designer, Marianna hones in on styles that are both modern and representative of the brand. Needless to say, now that we “know” the AGL sisters, we love their shoes even more!

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Springing into Shoes with ‘Woman Around Town’

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Last week while Christen and I were both in the store, a reporter from Woman Around Town (a lifestyle website for women living in DC and/or New York) dropped in and asked if she could speak with someone about spring trends and what we currently have in store. I was running out within the hour, so I suggested she speak with Christen. Charlene, the reporter, proceeded to ask about what’s in, what’s out and most importantly what a shopper should invest in this season. Here’s the article that came of their discussion. What do you think? What trend are you most looking forward to wearing?

The Secret to Wearing Heels, Part Two

by Ruth Barzel

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I’ve always loved heels, but even when I was younger I had a hard time wearing them. Whenever I put a pair on, I’d instantly feel like I’d gained 30 pounds and all that weight was bearing down on the balls of my feet. If that wasn’t bad enough, heels always squeezed my toes, causing them to throb, grow numb, and develop blisters. I’d end up feeling like a crippled elephant instead of the graceful gazelle I wanted to be.

Fast forward two or three decades, and—guess what? Not only have these problems failed to miraculously disappear; they’ve also worsened. To add insult to injury, I now have bunions—that scourge of middle-aged feet—and while they aren’t terrible, horrible bunions, anything that presses or rubs on them can easily ruin my day or evening. Plus, a couple of pregnancies and years of gravity have resulted in my shoe size going up half a size and my feet becoming a bit wider.

Still, I’m nowhere near ready to give up heels. Flats are great for everyday wear, but I think it’s virtually impossible to look truly elegant without some sort of a heel. So, I’ve devoted quite a bit of time and effort to figuring out how to make heels work for me. Christen’s post from a couple of weeks ago about the secret to wearing heels gave me the idea of sharing my hard-won wisdom with you. I love her suggestions, but she hasn’t been on the earth quite as long as some of us and therefore lacks firsthand experience with the trials and tribulations our aging feet have suffered! So, to add to hers, here are a few more tips for successful heel shopping for those of us whose 40th birthday is but a distant memory.

1. If the shoes aren’t completely comfortable when you try them on, don’t buy them. Do not under any circumstances succumb to the delusion that you will be able to “break them in.” They will become less comfortable, not more so, when you’ve been standing and walking in them for a while.

2. Wear the shoes around indoors for a few hours before going out in them. If they bother you, bring them back to the store and return them or exchange them. (Check the store’s return policy before buying.)

3. When in doubt, size up. Heels push your feet toward the toe of the shoe, so if the shoes are even slightly on the small side, they will hurt.

4. Choose soft materials. Suede is my friend when I buy heels. Soft, high-quality leather is also great. Stay away from stiff leather or scratchy fabric.

5. Go for quality over quantity. At our age, when it comes to heels, that “steal” might actually not be. I’ve wasted more money than I care to think about on “bargains” that ended up sitting in my closet unworn because they killed my feet. It’s better to buy one or two fabulous pairs that you can walk in than five or ten that you can’t.

6. Look for support. As Christen mentioned, more support is better. It helps distribute weight evenly instead of concentrating it all on the ball of your foot.

7. Stay away from super-thin soles. As we age, we lose fat from the soles of our feet. So we need to make up for that with more padding on the soles of our shoes.

8. Don’t go above 3 inches. Christen mentioned that she can wear 5-inch heels if they’re the right ones, but, at my age, I do better with lower heels. Besides, let’s face it, those super-high heels ones looked so cute in our 20s are a bit ridiculous on us now.

9. Embrace platforms. There are so many great platform styles available now. Some don’t even feel like heels at all. And even a small platform on the front part of the shoe gives you height without a steep angle, making the shoes much easier to walk in.

10. Immediately purchase at least two rolls of Nexcare waterproof athletic tape,  one for home and one for your handbag. There may be other products out there that work as well, but I haven’t found them. If spots on your feet are tender (like my annoying bunions) or blister-prone, put tape on them BEFORE the problem begins, or, at the very least, right when you first feel it. Trust me, this will change your life.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your best years while looking elegant and feeling comfortable in a gorgeous pair of heels!

Love,

Ruth

Should we take sneakers seriously?

February is fashion month, with Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. As it wraps up, we have read recap after recap of both the runway shows and street style. Inevitable, fashion month brings out some notable footwear. But this season, from New York to London to Milan, the fashion set seemed to (almost) unanimously agree that the perfect winter shoes are simple sneakers.

We don’t mean designer takes on the traditional sneaker with crazy high wedges or major bling. Truly athletic shoes, from Reeboks to Converse and New Balance, are all over the place. We’re not sure how we feel about this trend yet. It’s certainly comfortable, but we’re just not sure we can take sneakers seriously. What do you think?

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Prepping Your Shoes for Storage

With spring weather (slowly) rolling in, it’s time to start thinking about mixing up our wardrobes. I don’t know about you, but I’m so over layering. Most of us don’t think about this but it is really important to assess your shoe wardrobe seasonally so that your shoes last as long as you want or need them to. Here’s a guide to help you keep your shoes in great shape and to reduce clutter in your closet.

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1. Collect and evaluate your winter boots and shoes. Gather all of your shoes together and give them a thorough scanning. How are the soles of the shoes? The interiors? Are materials frayed or in need of repair? Do you have more than you wish you had? Did any cause you a winter full of blisters or sore feet?

2. Clean and repair the shoes worth keeping. After evaluating your collection, decide which shoes should stay and which should go. The shoes you choose to keep need to be cleaned and repaired (if necessary) so that they are ready to be worn when the weather cools back down in the fall. Don’t wait to do this until you’re ready to wear them. You’ll regret it when the time comes. A gentle cleaner is fine for spot cleaning fabrics on shoes. An old toothbrush dipped in soapy water also can get into nooks and crannies of rubber soles on shoes. And, I recommend taking leather boots and shoes to Old Town Shoe and Luggage Repair on King Street for repairs and deep cleaning.

3. Store the shoes you’ll enjoy wearing next fall and winter. Place them in clear plastic boxes (or their original boxes) to keep them protected. Place a lavender sachet into each box to keep odors to a minimum. Also, I suggest using shoe trees to help them keep their shape. You’d be surprised how much damage eight or so months of storage can do to a pair of shoes or boots.

4. Donate or recycle the shoes you have chosen to part with at the end of the season. Only donate barely worn shoes to charity though; all others should be recycled.

5. Bring your summer shoes out of storage (perhaps even a few weeks early just for sanity’s sake) and prepare your closet for warmer weather!