Product Review | Steve Madden's Realove Ankle Strap Sandal

It's product review time, and the latest purchase I'm following up on are the Steve Madden ankle strap sandals.

I was packing for my recent trip to San Francisco when it occurred to me that, for every evening look I put in the suitcase, I couldn't come up with a pair of comfortable black shoes that I can actually walk long distances (not to mention, up and down some particularly hairy and dangerous hills, especially after having spent the last ten years living on the ridiculously flat-as-a-pancake land that covers Dallas, Texas) in.

So, naturally I went on the hunt for a shoe that would get a lot of use, whatever city my virtual styling and shopping business takes me to. Low and behold, the latest addition to my closet that I would definitely qualify as an essential to any wardrobe:

steve madden sandal img

Here's how I saw it on-line at Amazon. No major differences which isn't too surprising. You can't really over-style a basic black, ankle strap sandal. 

as seen on amazon

From the back...

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Side angle love...

alt shot 1

Here's the review. I'm going with a simple, three-question evaluation system:

1. What do I like about the shoe? Easy, they go with everything I own in the closet. I tried them on and they're actually comfortable to boot (no pun intended; they're sandals after all). The look is exactly what I was going for, minimal, with a little 'oomph' courtesy of the thin metallic strap going across the toe. The heel height is fine for me (4.5"), and the pitch (angle the shoe has my heel at) is also beyond bearable. It's high, don't get me wrong, but they're definitely easy to walk in. Plus, one more thing to adore is the ankle strap. The shoes stay on my feet, right where they're supposed to. I threw in a little foot cushion to make sure I could stay comfy, and they've done wonders. Sometimes I'll go up a half size for comfort, but I stuck with an 8, and they work perfectly (true to size fit).  One more pro, I bought them through Amazon, I'm a Prime member, so free two-day shipping is definitely a massive bonus. For $79.95, I know I'll be getting plenty of use out of them. No question. 

2. What don't I like about the shoe? Right, you should know this but it bears repeating, I am not paid one cent to review this merchandise. Integrity people, that's what I'm talking about here. I don't get paid to write the review, I don't have the product sent to me, I'm just an industry insider who believes that you should get what you pay for, i.e. value. That said, here is some honest feedback about the 'cons' on this sandal.

You really do need to go out and buy a little foot cushion, especially for the toe bed. The heel height means you'll be putting a little extra pressure there, and with no platform, there's very little buffering between your foot and the surface you're walking on. When it's the sidewalks of San Fran, or just standing on a marble floor during a house party for a few hours, you will need a little lovin in the way of a foot pad. Trust me on that one. Save yourself the pain. And now I'm getting nit picky...The buckle on the ankle strap on the right shoe seems to wander off to the other side of my foot. The strap isn't sewn in place, so it moves around your ankle. Is it uncomfortable? Nope. Still, it's odd looking to have on buckle hitting the outside of the ankle and another buckle hitting the inside of the ankle. Odd, but true. It has only been a month since I've had them so the heel caps have held up.

Usually I have an issue with this as I've been known to have a pretty hard walk. I hit the floor with a vengeance, not sure why, but I've been told people can hear me coming a mile away. It must have something to do with finally being able to get away with wearing heels after years of trying on shoes in my mother's closet, only to have to take them off before I went to school. I take pride in rocking a heel, you'll rarely see me in flats, so when I walk, I really walk. Unfortunately, this also means the consistent need for replacement of heel caps. So far, so good on these sandals, but it's just a matter of time. I wouldn't hold that against them though.

Other than that, the fit is fine, the construction, solid enough for the price, and I can wear them for more than a few hours without holding back tears. Those days are done by the way, no more shoes that make me want to well up at the sheer thought of throwing them onto my feet. 

3. Am I keeping these shoes? Yes. They're sticking around and have now found a new home in my closet. I'm happy to report that they're getting along well with the rest of the 'crew.'

Finding the right shoe is step 1, figuring out how to wear it using what's in my closet is the second half of the equation. This is exactly what I do for my clients, but it started with me. 

Here are two looks to inspire ways to wear these new additions to my closet:


This is a more casual take on how to wear the sandals. Mind you, for San Fran, this would probably be considered a bit more dressed up. Potato, pot-ah-toe. I didn't put a red lipstick in there, but I love the idea of it for evening, or day for that matter. Why not?

look 1_how to wear ankle strap sandals

1. Pleione Mixed Media Shirt (, 2. Current/Elliott High-rise Skinny Jeans (, 3. Steve Madden Realove Ankle-Strap Pumps (, 4. Marc by Marc Jacobs The Classic Q Hillier Hobo  (, 5. Maiyet Natural Horn & 18kt Gold Plated Necklace (, 6. Carrera Eyewear Retro Sunglasses (


Dressing things up a bit with a super-feminine black dress, tough-girl leather jacket (loving the yin and yang of those two), a playful pink lip to add some color, and accessories with plenty of shine. 

look 2_how to wear ankle strap sandals

1. ASOS Sequin Dress with Fitted Bodice (, 2. Rick Owens Leather Jacket (, 3. Steve Madden Realove Ankle-Strap Pumps (, 4. Monserat de lucca Marciela Cross Body Bag (, 5. Rachel Zoe Teardrop Earrings (, 6. Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color (

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The product reviews just keep coming. There's plenty more on the way, in the mean time, check out other reviews here and get more inspiration on all things that cover what to wear, how to wear it, and where to shop.