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...

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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:

look1_header

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 (www.nordstrom.com), 2. Current/Elliott High-rise Skinny Jeans (www.theoutnet.com), 3. Steve Madden Realove Ankle-Strap Pumps (www.amazon.com), 4. Marc by Marc Jacobs The Classic Q Hillier Hobo  (www.net-a-porter.com), 5. Maiyet Natural Horn & 18kt Gold Plated Necklace (www.luisaviaroma.com), 6. Carrera Eyewear Retro Sunglasses (www.nordstrom.com)

look2_header

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 (www.asos.com), 2. Rick Owens Leather Jacket (www.theoutnet.com), 3. Steve Madden Realove Ankle-Strap Pumps (www.amazon.com), 4. Monserat de lucca Marciela Cross Body Bag (www.shopbop.com), 5. Rachel Zoe Teardrop Earrings (www.shopbop.com), 6. Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color (www.nordstrom.com)

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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.

The Shopping List from McQueen Bow-Back Booties to the Importance of Dreams. It Makes Sense, Promise.

Today's edited-down shopping list of hand-picked fashion favorites begins with a little 'look-spiration' courtesy of the all-colorful, all-inspiring product montage:

1.

These ankle boots are ridiculous, in a good way. The look is streamlined with a little leather wrapping at the top of the ankle that works well over a legging. I'd hate for these little details, bow included, to get lost in the shuffle under an elongated, straight-leg trouser or flared jean. Keep it clean with a skinny leg, that's the tip on these McQueen boots:

Here's one take on how to wear it, courtesy of SJP and her colored-skinny jeans that I'm flipping for:

source: www.peoplestylewatch.com

2.

3.

There's nothing like a slouchy shoulder bag that can expand in every way possible to accommodate the kitchen-sink-sized load that lives in your everyday bag. All of that accommodating in one accessory AND it's covered in a super-chic woven fabric with zipper embellishments? That is be-yond. That is Alexander Wang's 'Jane.'

4.

I'm in love with this dress, from the unexpected neckline to the body-conscious shape that accents all the right points on an hour-glass silhouette. It's a powerful L.B.D. where a classic bottom-half marries well with the not-s0-classic top half. Like I said, completely in love with this Darwin dress.

5.

Here's one of my favorite tricks that I've been pulling out lately in styling sessions. I take a basic, clean white tee, throw it back to a classic jean (skinny or not), black skinny pant, a wide-leg black trouser (the options are limitless so I'll stop at three so as not to totally go overboard here), etc and layer on one fabulous statement jewelry piece, in this case, the below Reine de la Nuit necklace from Juliet & Company. It's just, so, simple. Why waste all that time standing in front of your closet every morning trying to reinvent the wheel? Why not just go for what works? Cue my favorite yogi expression: 'try easy.'

source: 1. Alexander McQueen Bow-back Ankle Boot (www.thoutnet.com), 2. Thakoon Addition Striped Sweater (www.net-a-porter.com), 3. Alexander Wang Jane Shoulder Bag (www.net-a-porter.com), 4. Ralph Lauren Collection Darwin Dress (www.thoutnet.com), 5. Juliet & company Reine de la Nuit Necklace (www.shopbop.com)

Shop more picks that didn't make this list but still deserve their rightful cameo in the StyleShaker Closet:

Time for deep thoughts, by moi. Ok, so maybe they're not so deep, but when I stumble across a quote that resonates, I have to share it. It's an impulse, habit, mild-addiction, that just happened to have found it's way into fashion-centric posts. See? Fashion can be deep...ish. Here it is:

I'm a dreamer, we all were at one point or another as kiddos. As we 'grow up,' very little weight is placed on dreams.  Priorities shift to bigger, more 'important' things in life like rent, your inbox, or your 'busy' schedule. Dreams get swept under the rug, covered up and hidden to the point where we don't even remember that we had them in the first place.

What we do remember, every day it seems, is that something is missing. I can't even begin to tell you how many close friends, colleagues, family members, and clients have said this to me in one form or another. I happen to think that 'something' is us. And a big part of who we are comes from our dreams, you know the really outlandish ones that we xanax-popping, Starbucks-wired grown-ups shake our busy (very busy) heads at and see very little value in because, well, they don't usually correlate to money in the bank.

That one dream, the one that makes you the most uncomfortable because you haven't listened to it in forever, the one that leaves you thinking, "omg, something is wrong with me, that is the most insanely grandiose dream," or, "there's no way that's happening, oh look at the phone I just got an email, oh look there's a squirrel, oh wait, where am I again?," or, "there's no way I could have that," THAT is the one you go after with everything you've got.

I happen to believe that one dream, or two dreams, (or two hundred if you're Richard Branson) are why you're here. Those impossible dreams are what can change someone's world. I've gone all Don Quixote with this, but you know what I mean. Dream big, even if it's just 5 minutes, and like me, you're dreaming of sitting front row at the Burberry Prorsum Fall runway show wearing, what else, Burberry Prorsum. I have a few others up my three-quarter length sleeve, the 'biggies,' but I only have so much room and attention span to write this.

So with that, I encourage you to go find yours, your 'biggie' dreams. And when you're ready, share them. Don't leave them swept under a rug for the rest of your time spent hanging out on this crazy planet.

See more on what to wear, how to wear it, and where to shop.