It's just a hair over 40 days until I walk down the aisle to become someone's wife, but I still don't have the shoes that will carry me there. It's not that I'm entirely picky, but more so that I'm vertically-challenged. And while I don't have too many qualms about my 5'1" build, my soon to be husband towers over me at 6'2" which means that if I'm not wearing some killer high heels on our wedding day, all of the photos will undoubtedly be of the bottom of my chin as I crane my neck to meet his gaze.
After combing through just about every high-end luxury department store to try on thousand-dollar Giuseppe Zanotti mary-janes and stilt-like Brian Atwood strappy sandals, I left knowing full well I couldn't sink a month's rent worth of cash into teetering platforms that would never see the light of day again in my everyday life. That's when I started my frantic search for six-inchers (that aren't made of Lucite) to get me down a long stretch of grass to meet my soon-to-be-betrothed without face-planting in front of a hundred of our closest family and friends. I'm ashamed to admit, I've bought and returned over eight pairs in the last three months, and was feeling entirely dejected that I couldn't find the perfect mate for what is one of the most important dresses I'll ever wear. In a junk-food fueled, late night online shopping marathon last month, I started doing a bit of research on the custom made route, and discovered two sites that changed everything. Here, the websites that make designing your own shoes a total breeze:
1. Shoes of Prey. Created in 2009 by three ex-laywers (two who met as co-workers at Google, and one stylish wife), Australian-based company Shoes of Prey spearheaded the industry thanks to early adopters like Oprah and Vogue. It's no wonder that founders Jodi Fox, Michael Fox and Mike Knapp jumped at the opportunity to fill a previously unexplored space because people like me needed it, bad. The bestthing about Shoes of Prey is the supremely glossy user interface: It's seamless, really pretty, and houses a wide selection of styles and fabrics that make up millions of potential combinations (the icing on the cake is that it's easy). I Frankenstein-ed a basic white leather sandal with nude insoles, but maximalists can have their way with patterns, fabrics, bows, and of course, glitter. And if you're in a creative rut, they also have a section where you can cherry pick from pre-designed options like neon laced metallic loafers and a tassel backed snakeskin number (most ring in at under $200). When I got them on my doorstep three weeks after designing them, I tore straight through the luxe packaging with excitement (everything comes in matte black, and the thank you card comes sealed with stamped wax), but unfortunately they weren't an ideal fit. I have 365 days to return the suckers or I can change the style for free, all courtesy of their amazing customer care. The sandals set me back about $175, just a fraction of the price of what I had planned to spend.
2. Milk & Honey. The reason I didn't go with custom shoe site Milk & Honey was because they didn't carry a six-inch heel to accommodate my already-altered wedding dress hem, but the company packs a major punch for print and color-happy shoppers. If you live in Southern California, you can pop into their Downtown L.A. brick and mortar to work hand-in-hand with the team to execute your vision. Illisa and Dori, the two sisters who started their business, did it to fulfill their own dead end searches for that elusive perfect shoe. And if you don't feel like playing god, you can tap into Milk & Honey's own pre-made selection of glamorous studded ankle booties and kitten heel peep-toe pumps emblazoned with heart prints for $300. Pricey, yes, but the unique thing about the family business is that they have their own propriety molds in order to acheive the most comfortable fit. And of course, the Los Angeles based company has gotten their products onto the feet of celebrities like Kate Mara and Ginnifer Goodwin who design their own pumps for charities like St. JudeChildren Research Hospital and Uweza, an organization that fights poverty in Kibera. 100% of the profits go to these do-good causes, which makes buying shoes a lot less guilt-inducing.
Beso.com is the site devoted to shopping.