I hope you don’t mind a bit more of a glamour edit post vs. my typical sweat edit posts. Although I live and love my athleisure wear, I also really love fashion and beauty as you know and I’ve been wanting to add more content that reflects all aspects of my fashion interests. Since we are going into holiday party and gala season, maybe this post will be helpful to you getting your mind into what to wear to a black tie event, or simply window shopping as I’ve done for many years. In fact, my favorite window shopping post recently was this one featuring sequined Louboutin Moulamax Boots which I will never buy, but am enjoying looking at.
This past month I had a very (VERY) rare opportunity to splurge on a special pair of shoes and dress for a gala event my husband and I were invited to. My husband and I were invited to go to the 30th Anniversary David Foster Miracle Gala and Concert. The gala is an evening devoted to raising awareness and raising money to support children and their families in need of life-saving organ transplants in Canada. While the medical needs are always covered in Canada, the financial burden of travel, time off work, and the emotional burden of separating siblings and parents during this difficult time is often not recognized or supported. The David Foster foundation supports keeping families together and eases the financial burden for parents needing to take time off work to care for their sick child. It was shocking to learn that over 80% of families going through this ordeal end up either bankrupt or divorced. The cratering effect of a medical crisis like this was not something I fully appreciated until this evening. This years gala raised a record-breaking 10.2 million dollars. Oprah Winfrey donated 2 million, as did Steven Tyler, Jimmy Pattison and several other celebrities and performers that were present, and local business owners. It was amazing to see the generosity at the local level, and amazing that non-Canadian celebrities where so generous in their donations for a Canadian cause.
On to the more frivolous aspect of this post, the outfit shopping! For this occasion, my husband very kindly offered to infuse my budget so that I could splurge on something really special. We’ve been to many black tie events before but they are rarely truly black tie and often lean towards the very casual end of cocktail dresses. We knew this event would be very different and it was indeed a very upscale formal event. As you can tell from the title of this post, my shoe choices dominated my dress choice.
I’ve been drooling over Valentino Rockstuds for years now and so they were the first shoes I grabbed to pair with this dress, the Adrianna Papell High Low Ballgown. For the dress, I wanted something a-line, and elegant but not overtly sexy (this was a work event for my husband). I wanted to dress smart and appropriate, and not stand out. This is usually how I like to play dressing for work events with my husband. The shoes, on the other hand, that is where I infuse personality and extravagance.
I was a bit worried that the shoes would be too edgy for this type of a dress, but actually, I really loved how the two paired together. Glam + Edgy is perfect for a gala concert with Steven Tyler. I don’t know when the Manolo Blahnik Hangisis entered my mind, but I wanted to try those on as well with this dress. Specifically, I wanted to try them on in the blue, which many of you will recognize as Carrie Bradshaw’s proposal shoe from Sex And The City. Both shoes looked amazing with the dress and I don’t think one was a better match than the other, one offered a pop of edge while the other offered a vibrant pop of color. The Manolo Blahniks were more expensive and also seemed to be more delicate than the Valentino’s so I ended up going home with the Rockstuds because I had wanted them for so long. I felt like the Valentinos would be more versatile to pair with jeans and more casual looks as well as more formal looks.
I could not stop thinking about those blue shoes though. When I went home I did not take the rockstuds out of the box to show my husband, I did not try them on again at home and I was too scared to spray them with leather protector or get them resoled (as I do with high-end shoes). I just wasn’t committing to the shoe. I had to decide if this was just feeling intimidated at such a pricey shoe, or if it was that I felt the other shoe was the right one. After spending time online reading ‘manolo vs. valentino’ and looking at pictures online of both shoes I realized that I needed to exchange the Rockstuds for the Hangisis. I also learned that the Valentinos were just as delicate, if not more so than the Manolos – the Manolos are delicate in terms of the satin, but the structure of the shoe is much more solid. I raced back to Nordstrom the very next day and did the exchange and when I got home I immediately sprayed them with fabric protector and I wore them around the house to wear them in. While in photos my husband preferred the Valentinos, he thought the Manolos were way better in person. The ordeal of the shoes had a lot to do with the fact that these are so, so expensive and luxurious and I knew that these may be my only pair of luxury shoes for a long time. In fact, I only have one other pair of heels which I have in a neutral color, and wear to every event. They are the LK Bennet Sledge heals I got on Thredup. They are patent nude and go with everything but they just sort of blend into any outfit, so I’ve never felt the need to buy another pair of heels when I only wear heels 2-3 times per year. Anyways, I picked the blue shoes and could not be happier. It turns out that even though they are blue and very blingy, they are incredibly versatile. They match most of the dresses I already have in my closet, and you can pair them beautifully with ripped jeans, white tee shirt and a leather jacket for a casual glam look.
I take a size 9 in most shoes, and occasionally I size up a 1/2 size in heels, depending on the fit. I got the Manolo Hangisi in a 39.5 (which is equivalent to a size 9). They were snug fitting but did not pinch at all since the toe box is on the bigger side. The leather on the inside is incredibly supple so I knew they would stretch and mold to my foot within a few hours. I’m not a heels wearer so ‘comfort’ is usually hard for me to gauge. I can tell you that these are as comfortable a heel as I will ever wear. typically I suffer from blisters + sore feet and toes at the end of the night but with these shoes, the leather is so soft that I had no blisters or sore toes at all. The only foot pain I suffered was on the bottom of my foot from standing with my weight on my metatarsals.
I’ll also note the size I took in the Valentinos just in case you are curious. The Valentinos were also size 39.5 but felt just a touch bigger. I was told by the SA at Nordstrom that although the Valentino flats are a size up, as are most of the Rockstud shoes, these particular pumps fit bigger and are TTS. The Valentinos felt more comfortable and loose in store but I can tell that over an entire evening the Manolos are the more comfortable shoe because they are more secure on the foot, and have a wider toe box and come up higher on the foot. Neither shoes have much cushioning at the sole so I’m certain the metatarsal pain at the end of the night would have been the same either way, but having my foot more secure in the Manolos meant that my legs were less fatigued. The heel on both shoes is nicely centered below the heel and not at the edge of the back of the shoe, so your weight is evenly distributed. The pitch of the heel is about equal on both and are 4″ or 100-105mm heel height. Louboutins where not at all an option for me as they have a much harsher (and unnatural) pitch and are very uncomfortable to even seasoned heel wearers. The aesthetic of Louboutins also doesn’t suit me as well as these two heels do.
I tried on the light blue Hangisis and really loved them with the dress, but the dark blue are the ones I’m in love with.
I just adore these shoes and plan to wear the hell out of them both casually and dressed up. I still love the Valentino Rockstuds but the Manolo Blahniks have stolen my heart and I cannot stop looking at them.
The highlight of the event for me was seeing Oprah. The celebrities all sat at a long dining table in front of the stage, and our table was about three rows behind theirs so we could see them throughout the evening, although nobody really approached them or disturbed their evening in any way. Oprah presented an award to Jimmy Pattison, a local billionare entrepeneur and philanthropist which she knows personally. I really enjoyed listening to her speak because she really truly is a powerful speaker in person. Her speech was simple and direct, and very moving. I was just in awe this event and enjoying my evening of people watching and getting a glimpse of a world I’m not a part of, and the shoes are a great memento of that evening.