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Indian Sandals – of Chappals and Jutis May 26, 2009

Q: When do you really know you need a pair of shoes?

Me: Is that a trick question?

Q: Why?

Me: Because you always need a new pair of good shoes.

To add to above, Id say, you definitely need a pair of Indian Sandals! As I mentioned earlier, the range of shoes available to the common ladies of India are quite different from those available in some other world economies.

However, as far as we are concerned, we have one of the best deals ever. We got chappals and jutis, since time immemorial. Lets talk about chappals first.

No, they are not the so called ‘flip-flops’ which apparently harm your walk, these are creations which leave your feet with enough space to breath, wiggle and have a smart small heel, if so required.

The traditional childhood wear of our Moms, these thin soled slip-ons are comfortable in offices where they can be quietly slipped off under the table, yet are elegant and fashionable. And come in more varieties than the Kolhapuri and Osho slippers.

While the standard chappal/ slipper is thought of by most Indian women as one of those chunky ugly pieces of footwear only aunty’s-from-conservative-households-who-are-also-extremely-bitchy wear, they do have their original strappy lovely numbers existing, which can give the Greek ones a run for their money and their makers for inspiration. (Yes, including the Gladiators)

Made in a wide variety of colours and ranges, these are probably the only type of footwear which can effectively carry off any design without looking really bad. Sure, they can make you look ‘aunty’ (as Indians say), but never really ‘bad’.

Available in all price ranges in every type of shop, ranging from sidewalks to top notch places, they are the footwear that at most can do only one type of harm to your feet – by giving you a shoebite if you bought ’em tight.

The modern shoe makers have evolved the humble chappal into its newer shoe-inspired avatar. These can be tied around your ankle or have a loop thereby resisting any impulse of the shoe to slip off or ‘flap’ while you walk.

Essentially, a chappal shall not flap while walking because unlike a flip-flop, its fit is snug.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Kolhapuri Chappals

The Kolapuri chappals are made from leather, and have to be made comfortable by regular use – just like any other leather product. However, the readily available ones in various colours and exciting designs are made with any material the shoe designers can get. Another unique point of the Kolhapuris – they do not have a single bit of nail on them and are made of pure leather! Once you get an original Kolhapuri, it may just last you a lifetime! And, they are cheap.

In recent times the Kolhapuri chappals have evolved into various looks including hand painted leather on some of them, with the designs in blue, green, red…making the whole chappal interesting and bright to look at – and look amazingly well with jeans.

Colourful Jutis

Colourful Jutis

Then there are also the Juti-inspired chappals. Juti/ Jutti’s are essentially made famous by the Punjabis. They are covered in front and flat soled, with a little triangle at the heel to hold the foot in. In some designs the back may be open as well. The top of the Juti is highly decorated. It can be decorated with anything. Ranging from paint, to bead work, to silver and golden threads, plain wool threads, etc. the jutis are as versatile as any Indian garment when it comes to embellishment. They are also called Mojri/ Mojari and are worn extensively in Rajasthan and Gujarat as well. As with chappals, they are very comfortable once broken into!

WHAT DO I SUGGEST? Well, with the variety available in chappals and jutis, women quite justly should go mad. When wearing a plain pair of jeans, nothing can brighten up the whole getup like a pair of colourful, ethnic chappals / jutis.

With traditional wear, salwar kameez and ghagras, a well embellished juti goes very well. Especially if the salwar kameez is the Punjabi patiala style, and the ghagra is rajasthani. Awesome party wear.

Juti with Sherwani

Juti with Sherwani

Men of course are quite partial to both of them. With a traditional Kurta-Pajama, a kolapuri chappal or a plain leather Juti looks graceful and elegant.

DONT’s One thing is for sure, Indian Sandals/ Chappals/ Jutis are best suited for long dresses – i.e. things that cover your legs. So, it is a definite no-no with knee length skirts. If to be worn with long skirts, it is preferable that they are Indian ethnic to look at. Preferably wrap around, with enough flair. Also to be avoided are Saris! They are elegant dresses, but in my opinion, unless a heeled sandal is worn, a juti can quite spoil the show for a sari – unless its for casual daily wear. Chappals and stylish sandals can be worn with a Sari, but the colour and style has to be kept in mind. Again, these go best with crisp cotton and thick silk saris rather than chiffon/ mixed fabric ones.

For men, anytime is a good time to wear a Juti/ a Chappal. Right from jeans, to sherwanis, pujama-kurtas to shotis. However, I hope my male readers would remember that trousers were never meant to be paired with this oh-so-Indian footwear. A kolhapuri for near-the-house grocery shopping can be pardoned, but definitely not as a dress-up!

So I say, go get yourself a pair of genuine chappals and enjoy your walk for years to come! I promise you will look chic all the while. This is one design that has been there for eons and will continue to stay.


Sandals for Indian Summer May 11, 2009

The summers are here, and at their peak. Internationally, the summers bring in the time to wear sandals.

In India too, nothing can make one look more summery and cool thannice summery clothes and flat, open aired shoes – i.e. sandals. I would also say monsoons are the apt time to take them out.

Remember the flat Bata sandals that used to be the regular wear while in school? Well, its time we re-looked sandals. Designs have evolved through the years, and sandals have definitely become trendier. No more is one restricted to a single brand and boring designs for summer footwear. Sandals now come in all shapes, sizes, colours and types!

Continuing the trends outlined, gladiators remain favorites as flat sandals. Not only do they hold your foot in place through summer and monsoon slush, they are stylish.

Here are some very nice stylish ideas for flat footwear this season.While you check out the latest 10 trends for flat footwear, I will cook up a nice long post for you.


Buy Yourself Nice Gladiator Shoes May 7, 2009

Gladiator sandals

Gladiator Sandal-Boots

How grand and shoe-like they sound. Yet they can be best described as pieces of string holding your foot.

Gladiators. What grand images they throw up in your mind – strong men in arenas facing challenges larger than life. But shoes? Yes, these are the flat soled sandals that you can imagine the Romans wear under their Togas. And they are no more adorning the legs of muscular men. Now, they are fashion statement for women.


gladiator sandals

Gladiator Sandals

Essentially, gladiator shoes are  sandals with pieces of straps holding them to your foot – and climbing up, your calves as well. Elegant way of covering up men’s legs in an era devoid of trousers.

Today, they have evolved into classic wear for women, ranging from ankle length to boots.

gladiator shoe and dress

Gladiator shoe & Appropriate Dress

Sure, they look nice. In fact, on a good pair of legs, they look lovely. When worn with the correct dress. And dress it has to be. A skirt or a frock. Originally meant to be worn with a Toga, even today the beauty of gladiator shoes can only be set off by dresses with flair, elegance and essentially, a hemline.

Essentially, there is no point in wearing gladiator shoes, unless the calf is visible. Jeans and even shorts are a complete no-no for these age old style statements.

But then, though beautiful, gladiators can be overdone. The traditional gladiators are flat soled with leather straps and buckles to hold ones feet in place. These are rarely worn in their traditional format any more. Nowdays, we prefer modifications which modernise and beautify the original more than the original. However, certain such designs are quite horrific. 

Gwyneth Paltrow Gold Gladiators

Gwyneth Paltrow Gold Ugly Gladiators

Gladiators now are also made with heels. Wedge and pencil, that is quite O.K. However, when the gladiator style meets the bondage, that is when one needs to be careful. Also, gladiators are the fine line between style and not knowing style. To succumb to wearing gladiators, one should be confident of the pair picked up, and how its worn. Celebritites like Gwynneth Paltrow known for her choice of gladiators, have famously gone wrong as well. Not only did she wear them with trousers, they were gold in colour, with an unflattering design!

There are designers making fashionable yet ugly bondage gladiators. There are designers making terribly ugly normal gladiators. And then there are the embellished gladiators, which are just plain ugly.

Gladiator shoes elicit a lot of reaction. They are a style statement, and as with any such statement, they are either loved or hated. There are those who hate gladiators. However, there are many more people like me, who love gladiator shoes.

Gladiator shoes are back this summer. So ladies, buckle up. Get those summery dresses out. And enjoy these Roman Beauties. Because this is one shoe that is stylish while being flat, and so utterly suitable to Indian roads 😉


Buying the Regular Daily Wear Shoe May 5, 2009

Filed under: regular shoes — Dips @ 7:29 pm
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I own shoes. Correction. I own quite a lot of shoes – at least by standards of most Indian women. Where most of the ladies I am acquainted with own four, five or even six pairs of shoes, I, well I, have not counted how many I own. There definitely are more than that can fit into my shoe cupboard. I keep the others in almirah, or in the box bed…or somewhere.

Those privileged few who have seen all my shoes in one go usually ask – ‘Do you wear them?’ Of course I do. Each and every one of them. Though not regularly, but I have a diverse selection with different kinds of footwear. As a result, I can change my shoes with outfits and occasions and that too without qualms. I do not have two similar looking strappy numbers of different colours. What I do have is a strappy shoe and another boot. A kitten heel as well as wedge. A peep toe as well as a pointy toe. Flat, jute made shoes to shiny black leather ones. So, while choosing what to wear, its more about what mood Im in, what I want to wear, and be. Than the colour.

However, there is in my shoe closet, a special place for my regular shoes. Shoes I don on an almost-daily basis for office. These are unobtrusive yet classic. They can match almost any outfit I own, they are great. They have to be great. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to wear them daily.

Thus, when I speak to someone about lack of shoes, they laugh on my face. No one realises my shoes wear out really quickly and the ones I wear regularly are usually irreplaceable. Hence, I wear them really often and they wear quickly out as well. When I go buying shoes, I like something different – and so usually they are not shoes I can wear regularly to office – not in India. I buy exotic, interesting, not-yet-in-my-closet shoes.

So it is that I have to go shoe shopping for my regular pair, notwithstanding my peers scorns. However, guess what. I really do not enjoy shopping, and that does include shoe shopping. I like shoes, but to go and hunt for the right pair is difficult. Unlike the accidental buys – when I am out, and I see a pair that I have to have! To buy shoes for regular wear, one has to keep in mind a certain design and then hunt all over for that perfect pair. The pair does not beckon you, you look for it. Meanwhile, many others will call out for your attention, making you want to own them as well. And, then, to crown it all, one has to look for the right fitting by trying on oh-so-many pairs of shoes!

Ah well, I guess its time I went shoe shopping again. To get that pair which I can wear to office, regularly, without thinking. That one pair that will match with most of my formal wear, that one ubiquitous pair that will be classy, modern, demure, stylish and comfortable enough to be worn daily, hour upon hour.