I prefer wearing flat and low heeled footwear for two reasons: (1) my feet don’t like to arch too much, (2) and my lifestyle involves lots of walking. There’s just no way that I can accomplish what I need to when I’m out and about wearing high heels. I’d move too slowly, the balls of my feet would ache and my arches would cramp up. That’s why I reserve high heels for “sitting” occasions and tear around town with my clients in heels no higher than two inches.
So I was delighted when Christina Luhur, the founder of Scarpasa asked me to review a sample of her footwear. Scarpasa is an online footwear store that scours Europe and South America for comfortable, fab looking, flat and low to mid heeled footwear. Hello! This is sweet music to my ears! In a fashion world where three inch heels are no longer considered high, it’s become increasingly hard to find low heels at all – let alone styles that go the distance and don’t look frumpy.
Scarpasa’s clever slogan says it all, “lower your heels, not your expectations”. That’s brilliant and I’m in the bullseye of their target market. Browsing through the site, I saw all sorts of classic and fashion forward boots, booties, pumps and sandals. I immediately noticed that the styles are different to those you see on the mainstream footwear sites. I love that. Who doesn’t like to own a more exclusive style of shoe? As I browsed further, I thoroughly enjoyed that each style suggests an outfit pairing for the shoe, sometimes showing an actual outfit visual. For example, the outfit pairing for the Pons Quintana Melody ballet flat is: “toss these on with jeans, a tailored shirt and cardigan to run your weekend errands in sophisticated fashion”. Spot on and great attention to detail. I also appreciate knowing whether each style runs big or small, also information that is provided for each shoe.
I chose three footwear styles and they were on my doorstep a couple of days later, beautifully packaged in lilac tissue paper. First, the Pons Quintana Melody TC, a two toned black and white ballet flat. Second, the Gina Ventori Patricia, a grey snake skin round toed pump with pewter buckle detailing. Third, the Chie Mihara Tatsu, a crazy, colour blocked round toed pump with a bit of gold glitz thrown in.
Well-made shoes with flat and low heels are the start of my footwear prerequisites. I also need a shoe with soft leather and a cushioning foot bed. After years in the rag trade I’m a stickler for quality. And on top of it all, I refuse to wear a shoe that’s comfortable but looks unattractive. Bottom line: I’m a tough footwear critic.
As soon as I saw Scarpasa’s shoes, I was taken by their aesthetics and manufacturing quality. There’s no time like the present, so I slid on the ballet flats and paraded around the house. Unfortunately my long toes pinched in the toe-box as I walked, so these weren’t going to work. If you have a narrower foot or shorter toes they might work for you, and I might try sizing up half a size because I adore the shoe.
My initial disappointment was instantly forgotten when I tried on the two pairs of pumps. WOW! I was in foot heaven. Both pairs are extremely soft and don’t cut into my flesh. The foot beds are also soft, but I softened them up even more by adding an insole. The buckles on the Gina Ventori’s are perfectly positioned so that they don’t rub up against your foot as you stride. The toe boxes are fairly roomy for my regular width feet and my arches felt adequately supported. The heel heights, one at 1.5 inches and the other at 2 inches are as perfect as can be. I can’t avoid toe cleavage because of my long gangly toes. But honestly, it is hard enough to find comfortable shoes and toe cleavage is the last thing I’m worried about. Besides, Greg thinks my toe cleavage is cute.
So far so good with the pumps at home. But the real comfort test comes from putting footwear through its paces on the road. The pictures below were taken in an edgy, close-by Seattle neighborhood called Capitol Hill. I’m pleased to report that both sets of pumps passed “the fast walking test” up and down hills with flying colours. Happy feet.
I chose my favourite zippered skinny jeans to showcase both pairs of pumps (you’ll see the second outfit later this week). I’ve been in an androgynous style mood lately so I chose a strict non-crease Brooks Brothers button down shirt with one of Greg’s ties under my cream leather jacket. This combination was the perfect complement and contrast for the girly vibe of the Chie Mihara Tatsus. I finished off the outfit with a pewter clutch and black specs.
The only drawback of Scarpasa is that it’s quite pricey, but this is to be expected because they stock better end footwear. I for one am happy to pay extra for comfortable, good looking, fairly exclusive and quality shoes. I’d rather have one killer pair than three nice pairs. I’ll wear them more frequently, whittling down the cost per wear so it all evens out in the end.
After my lovely experience I highly recommend Scarpasa. The service was excellent, the site is a joy to use, the footwear assortment is unique, and above all, the pumps met with my high footwear expectations. I hope that you find gems here just like I did.
The dramatic Chie Mihara Tatsu pumps.
Scarpasa is generously giving away $200 to spend in their store. Take a look in YLF’s competition section for details.