Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Peep-Toe Conundrum

Here's something I've always wondered: is it still tacky to wear tights or stockings with open-toed shoes? I've always been taught that yes, it is, although I have no idea where or when that happened. The only fashion advice I can remember my mother ever giving me is when, in eighth grade, she said, "Are you sure you want to wear that shirt to school today? I can see down your chest." And then I said, "Maaa-ahm!" and stormed off to my room. My sister's fashion advice tended along the lines of "Did you borrow my blue skirt without asking?" (Although I do remember her warning me against the denim tuxedo.) I may have learned this tights=no peeps toes from one of the many teen magazines I read growing up, or maybe Ann Landers did a special column on Fashion Faux pas, in which I also learned the dangers of wearing black with brown. But now I'm thinking that perhaps this fashion maxim needs to be retired, just like the "no white after Labor Day" rule that everyone agrees is pretty silly.

I started thinking about this while browsing shoes on Anthropologie, a store that I consider to be, if not the authority on fashion, at least a reliable guide to good taste and style. Not everything they sell is exactly my taste, but it's very rare for me to walk in and think, "Oh, yuck! Who would wear this dress, besides a blind trailer trash 14 year old?" They're not selling bedazzled rompers in neon green, is what I'm saying. So I had to stop and think when I saw this photo (the zoomed-in version of the brunettes shoes is above). The Lunar Puzzle Mary-Jane, $99.95 is gorgeous beyond reproach-- I dare you not to fall in love with how the braided silver t-strap looks against the sky blue suede. I think maybe the reason these shoes work with tights is that the peep-toe is pretty small. You catch a glimpse of the first two toes, but the majority of the foot is out of view: there's a little bit of that weird "webbed toes" effect, but it's easily ignored.

My next example are the Buckled T-Straps, $289.95, and this photo also breaks another fashion rule I've clung to: don't wear wear white tights once you're a teenager, because they make you look like a second-grade ballerina. Also, as someone with fair skin, why would I ever want my legs to look paler? On the other hand, they wear white tights all the time on Gossip Girl, and this model looks pretty fetching in her white tights and peep-toe pumps combo. It could just be the dogs, though, spreading their cuteness to her and clouding my judgment.

Perhaps the new rule is to use your common sense: strappy sandals with old-fashioned hose will never work, but some distinctly patterned tights with fairly sturdy peep-toes (I think there's something about the t-straps and mary-janes that help. That extra strip or two of fabric makes the shoes a little more serious, more appropriate for winter and layering) can work. I guess the only fashion rule is, If you can pull it off, go for it.

Or, maybe I just need to watch the shoes on Gossip Girl more closely, and then dress accordingly.

It's still wrong to wear socks with sandals, though.

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