Classic styles still dominate summer shoe fashions

cbolling@charlotteobserver.comJune 26, 2013 

  • Get those feet in shape!

    Those cute summer shoes look a lot less cute if you’ve let your foot care regimen slide. If you don’t want to splurge for a pedicure, follow these steps for tootsies that won’t distract – in a bad way – from your cute kicks.

    • Exfoliate rough and cracked spots on your feet, paying special attention to your heels. If your skin is very cracked or calloused, do it in increments to avoid damaging your skin.

    • Clean under your toenails and trim them, leaving a little length to avoid skin cracks and ingrown toenails.

    • Moisturize your feet daily with a good lotion.

    • If you paint your toenails, be sure to check often for chips or cracks.

    • To keep bacteria and odors at bay, dust your summer shoes daily with cornstarch or baking soda before and after wearings.

There’s a reason summer shoes make us smile.

Colors pop. Jewels sparkle. Textures abound, from woven straw heels to smooth leather soles and tacky rubber straps.

And for all the changes our summer sleeve lengths and hemlines make, rising and falling like the tides, our summer footwear staples haven’t changed much.

For decades, espadrilles, thong sandals and yes, even jellies have been the go-to summer casual shoes.

“It’s jewelry for the feet,” says Diane Chinnis, who co-owns Main & Taylor shoe and handbag stores in Raleigh and Greensboro. “Women love their summer shoes. It’s color, and it’s jewels and it’s a lot more exciting than winter shoes.”

Jackie Kennedy raised eyebrows in 1963 when she wore a pair of Jack Rogers Navajo thong sandals to a Good Friday service in Palm Beach. Fifty years later, the shoes are still staples in women’s wardrobes, from college students wearing them in their school’s colors to women well past college age wearing them in a neutral soft gold or silver.

Sandy Bowers, owner of Monkee’s of Lake Norman, still recalls a pair of platform white canvas peep-toe wedges with black polka dots and a bow on top that she bought from a trendy store in the summer of 1989.

“And I think I saw Prada pull out their version (of that shoe) in 2013,” Bowers said, laughing. “I can still imagine myself buying that shoe and wearing it.”

The flip-flop, which got its start in the United States after World War II when American soldiers brought back Japanese zoris as souvenirs, has many personalities, from the sporty, thick-soled athletic styles to the minimalist thongs with teeny straps.

But for the last few years, customers have come into Chinnis’ stores looking for a flip-flop with a little more oomph.

“People have moved into wanting a little more in the way of jewels on their feet,” she said. “The plain little plastic flip-flop isn’t quite as important as it had been in the past.”

Katie Abel, global news director for Footwear News, a trade publication out of New York City, says companies like Tkees and Havaianas have taken old standards like rubber flip-flops to the next level by adding elements such as graphic designs and embellishments in materials like metal and ceramic.

“It’s evolved from sort of a more basic item into something that people can have a lot of fun with, that’s tailored to their taste,” she said.

Jelly sandals that were adored by young girls in the 1980s still have their place, too.

High-end designers from Michael Kors to Lilly Pulitzer have jellies in their summer 2013 collections.

And practically every designer, from the high-end to the budget brands, has an offering of espadrilles. Wedge heels, peep-toes and flats abound in every color combination imaginable.

Bowers stocks them in lots of colors, from yellow to citron green to orange.

“What’s fun about those is they’re comfortable, and you can pair them with your basic jean short and white T-shirt or you can pull out a coral silk tank dress and add a little pop of color,” Bowers says. “It’s a little more bold out there right now.”

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