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Shoes for the Discerning Indian Woman

My Tryst with Red Shoes: at Work & Elsewhere April 24, 2010

I really like your shoes. And you. I admire people who can wear red shoes I think they are very difficult to carry off

My colleagues comment left me speechless. A little flattered, but surprised as well. You see, shoes are the one thing that really don’t need confidence. They are just…worn.

Porphyra - A Beautiful Red Algea

Porphyra - A Beautiful Red Algea

I love the colour red, like almost all Indians. However, though keep few reds in my cupboard, I wear them with caution, and not usually to work. With shoes, it is a different matter altogether.

I have always had a pair of red shoes in my cupboard. Ever since I can remember, I have liked to pick up red shoes. Its a pity I did not take photographs of my shoes before this, else I could have given a nice series of photographs – vintage, really – of my ‘Red Shoes Through the Ages’ or some such thing.

They started off more as fun in college, and now I have these that I wear to office.

At the moment though,  I have two pairs, one rather dull red, and the other a shiny patent red. I am a little particular about the shade of red when I choose the shoes. I sincerely believe that red is a beautiful colour. However, it can look so very awful if the shade of red selected is

a) not suitable to the skin (warm shades and cool shades) or

b) not suitable to the occasion

Once I had red flats, with red sequins holding down the toes. They added zing to my dull blue jeans for a casual evening out with friends. I however, could not imagine wearing them to office.

Red Leather Peep Toes

Red Leather Peep Toes

To start with, are my red leather peep-toes. The design of these shoes are not exactly subtle, but the colour and the overall make of them, thanks to the leather, the stitching, etc., makes them my favorite for office wear.

They are not exactly from a fancy shop, but something I saw and was love at first sight. The toes are covered quite well, and the ‘peep’ is just enough to show a hint of nailpolish. And it covers the feet quite well from all angles. The leather scrunches up as it ends near the foot, to give a nice feminine ruffled look.

The heels are around 2 inches, comfortable and of  dark wood-like substance.

Red ShoesI wear this pair pretty often with either dull coloured skirts, or with a black and white outfit.

It brings in a splash of coliur to the black and white, without drawing attention to itself.

The leather itself is patchy in shades, and that brings its own angle into the shoes.

Red Shoes in Office

Red Shoes in Office

They go pretty well with jeans as well. The heel height helps in cigarette leg jeans, and the red colour adds to the glam look of the outfit.

However, I still like to reserve it for office wear. It is the bit of daring in formal wear which can make a day brighter.

The next pair of red shoes – and I must confess, I recently got them from Singapore – are anything but subtle. In design they are as formal as can be, but they are a bright red, made of patent leather-like material, shining and definitely drawing attention to themselves.

Shiny Red Shoes

Shiny Red Shoes

I got these shoes from a URS & Inc shop, and they fit like a dream – and I simply could not resist the sassy red.

The design, as you can see, is a very staid moccasin look-alike, with a bit of steel buckle for show. But the red is tomato, yet in certain light looks maroonish.

From Office in Patent Red Shoes

From Office in Patent Red Shoes

The heel is pure wood, and gives a nice hollow ring when walking on solid stone floors (marble or granite), which is nice to hear in its own way.

The sole is well cushioned, and in short, wearing this pair is a joy unto itself – and most of it is due to the colour!

Red Shoes with BeigeSo I pair this with my dullest trousers (photo above: shirt: Fab India, Trousers: G2000, Dirty room with tangled computer wires: mine!) The design of this pair of shoes is good for trousers, I dont think I will wear this with skirts, or even Salwar Kameezes.

In trousers as well, because of its shiny nature, it does not go very well with pure black, and thus I reserve it for camel, beige and brown trousers. It then adds an interesting aspect to the complete look, especially when sitting down – as then the shoes become really visible.

Red Shoe

My suggestion – on a Monday, when you have the Blues, there is nothing likea pair of Red Shoes to chase them away.

Try it, the next time in office. But do take care that the shade suits your feet, and complements your clothes. Red shoes need to be worn with care, and you dont want people pointing at your feet because the colour is so garish and bright, it robs the shoe and the wearer from any style quotient!

The colour red is known for its energy, its sanctity (in India and China) and its power. Feel free to dip into this reservoir and make a bleak work day some fun!

(Photograph courtesy Flickr)


Shoes for Salwar Kameez (shalwar kameez) October 8, 2009

Patiala Salwar
Patiala Salwar

Salwar Kameez is a ubiquitous dress in India and neighboring countries. Consisting mainly of a bottom and a top, it has many variations and is often colourful. Uniquely it is something women wear and when men wear the equivalent it is called by other names (eg. kurta-pajama).

Salwar typically means a baggy pajama, a little constricted at the ankle. They can be with lots of pleats (gher), i.e. Patiala style, or much more streamlined, as worn regularly.

However, loosely the term is also used to denote churidars. Churidars are tight legging type bottoms made (usually) of cotton or similar material, with length greater than the leg. So it bunches up near the ankle. The more the cloth near the ankle, the better it is supposed to be.

A well fitting Churidar

A well fitting Churidar

So, what should one wear with this attire? The decision of shoes with salwar kameezes is pretty much second nature to those who have been seeing it since childhood, or wear it often. But to those who are new to the dress, there can be some trauma associated with the choice. So here I am, your angel in disguise (OK dispute that if you want! humph!) to help you.


Flats go very well with Salwars, as opposed to Churidars. Kolapuri chappals look very nice, as well as any Indian sandal type. Flip flop style chappals are also a good bet.  You can look at the  post on Indian sandals I had written about earlier for a pointer on the types available. You can choose any type from there.

When wearing flats with salwars, do ensure that the pajama is not too long for your leg, and does not curl up under your heel. Not only will that be a nuisance while walking, it also looks bad and spoils the show of the salwar. Afterall, the salwar looks best when it has a good fall from the waist, curtailing in the bakram of the ankle.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Kolhapuri Chappals

With churidars, flats can be worn (especially with short kurtas), it does not look as elegant. When wearing flats with churidars try and stick to jutis rather than any other type of flats. Jutis make the overall look nice and old-fashioned elegant. Kind of like what the men wear, yet also a little 1930’s type.

Stilettos / Pencil/ High heels

High heels go extremely well with any type of salwar kameez. With patiala salwars and kurtas, the high heel streamlines the figure and gives length to the silouhuette. The patiala tends to make people look shorter, so unless you are tall, a medium to high heel is recommended. A pencil thin heel makes you look more chic than a regular high heel. Platforms or wedges can also be worn.

Churidar with matching heels

Churidar with matching heels

A churidar kurta makes a person look thin and taller because of its streamlined outline. With a high heel, the posture is improved and the overall effect is that of a tall, thin, elegant person. Platforms can also be worn, but with caution as every platform shoe does not compliment all the styles of kurtas.

Medium heel sandals

For regular daily wear, medium heel sandals work best. (The type I outlined for short skirts in my earlier post). They are comfortable, while at the same time giving a slight elevtion making the legs look longer and you slimmer.

Indian Sandals

Indian Sandals

Indian chappals with the little block heel that they have work the best for this outfit at any given time. When the sandals have embellishments on the top straps, they can be worn for formal evenings out as well.

Colour Choice

Salwar kameez, as anyone knows are typically very colourful. It is typically expected that the  shoes match the oufit. If you don’t own sandals in matching colours, brown and dull bronze or gold are pretty universal. Black can be worn as well, but they stand out a little, because in most probability the dress will not have black in it. The same goes for white, though strappy cream sandals or very plain black sandals can work. Red slippers and shoes do very well, unless the dress is of a totally contrasting colour. However, unless wearing high heels, it is best to avoid the shiny shades of the colours, or patent leather. The emphasis then is on the feet rather than the overall look or outfit.

Indian chappals with gold embellishments or kolapuri chappals are pretty neutral and can be used with almost any outfit without worries. Kolapuris by virtue of their neutral brown shade make the outfit look good and very ethnic.

Style of Shoe

Like a friend of mine mentioned, Salwar Kameez essentially a feminine dress. and pretty ethnic.  The shoe chosen to be worn with it should thus either be ethnic, or feminine. I would suggest to wear open toed sandals as far as possible when wearing high heels with this outfit. The only type of closed shoes that work with salwar kameezes well are jutis. However, if you are confident that your pumps are the perfect accessory to your outfit, you can give it a try. On the safer side though, shoes with two straps (like typical Indian chappals) or a couple of horizontal straps holding your feet in, or peep-toes for your high heels work best.

So go ahead, make you salwar kameez/ churidar kurta look better than it does with the correct pair of shoes and be ready for all the complements!

Photograph source: All photos have been sourced from Google, special mention has to be made of designersalwarkameez & bollywoodbridesmaid for the pictures used.


Monsoon Shoe Shopping in India July 2, 2009

Its monsoon time! Well, almost. In Mumbai, India it has finally started raining, however the rest of the country awaits at the edge of drought. Perhaps what will bring the rains in, is getting ready for them. Nothing makes it rain like going out for a long day trip in your best clothes and leather shoes while your rain gear and shoes rest at home.

The first step, however, to the rain calling is getting the rain wear to wait at home for you.  The essentials are very simple – an umbrella (or raincoat) and shoes.  For days when I expect to be out on the streets for longer times, I usually combine a raincoat with an umbrella – makes it easy to manouver and not get wet in the torrential downpours. But the one thing that remains crucial is Shoes.

You see, when walking in the rain, the one thing that is bound to get thoroughly drenched is your footwear. Throughout the year, no one really cares much about water resistant footwear. Its leather, and suede, and silk etc as far as footwear is concerned. And then come the monsoons spoiling some of your best pairs.

To avoid such a scenario, many companies (like Bata) promote their rubber based shoes.  These dont spoil on getting wet, and neither do they take too long to dry. So they are perfect! However, they really lack comfort and style. I mean, OK so they are rainwear. But that does not have to make them ugly, right?

Crocs are a good option for the rains as well. They are essentially rubber, and they do make some sort of style statement. Comfortable? Not for long runs, and their grip is also so-so, so they wont slip from your foot when both are wet with rain water and puddles. But, if you want a quick fix and really colourful options with holes on top, Crocs are your freinds.

However, you cannot really wear Crocs to office. Bata might still suffice, but imagine blue crocs in a traditional office with strict formal wear code? No.

In such cases, many people carry a pair of shoes, and wear their multi-purpose floaters. Floaters, ugly as they are, are convenient. And though the velcro portion may not dry as fast, at least the contact to skin is at minimum.  And then there are rubber floaters to take care of that. Of course, some floaters are not as ugly, but getting such a pair in India may prove difficult.

However, what I recommend for my Indian ladies, is a shopping stint with a tight budget on Linking Road, Bandra and Colaba Causeway. The flavour of the season are flat ballerina style peep-toes, in all colours imaginable – starting from canary yellow, patent black, ink blue,  shocking pink, blood red to skin tones. They are plastic all over and guarantee a slip-free walk through all water-covered surfaces. They also come for as cheap as INR200 a pair!

I would say go Invest! The only fly in the ointment are the available sizes – there is only a medium size available and if you have large feet (like me) it might be difficult for you to find a pair in your favorite colour.  The largest they seemed to have was Size 38.

However, fret not. In such a scenario where your fair feet do not fit daintily into these petite creations, there are sandals. These are flat again (to cater to the monsoons) with elastic at the back to hold in your foot and a broad band over your toes. The broad band is nice – transparent with three stripes of different colours and a fake buckle. The overall look is quite nice and I would post a photograph if I had one on me. These too are totally plastic, colourful, pretty sturdy and perfect for the monsoons.

Both these shoes are sedate enough for office and trendy enough for evening outs – it will be your choice of colours which will determine where to wear them. Also, they are sure to last you the season, which is more than what you could want from these colourful cheap funwear.

While you are out getting shoes, it might not hurt to buy a colourful umbrella as well. Colaba is crowded with umbrella sellers of every variety, ranging from below Rs.100 to as high as you want.  They are quite the compliment to your rainy weather shoes.

You can also wear your Gladiators in monsoons as they have all the attributes needed for rainy days – flat, good grip, hold feet in place. But just make sure they are not your leather gladiators. Then they are bound to be ruined!

So go ahead, mae a spash! Choose vibrant colours, fun plastic, or branded stuff, but be prepared for monsoons! I promise the rains will follow soon enough!

PS – In Calcutta, you can try Metro Plaza near Ravindra Sarovar – they have some shops with really good shoe collections, including rain freindly wear. And shoes in Kolkata will be cheaper than in Mumbai. Also a must – check-out place for shoes is AC Market (Ravindra Sarovar) as well as New Market, Esplanade!

PPS – Delhi shoppers! Make your way to GK II asap! And Janpath and Sarojini Nagar market (Sarojini more than Janpath) are sure to have you shopping to your hearts’ delight!!