Saturday, May 31, 2008

When Skirts are Too Cold, Part II - Boots

It's not only the old who get cold. Let's face it -- when the weather's cold, we all feel cold! You may think that the skirt falls from favour when the temperatures fall toward zero, but here are 3 secrets that enable you to keep the skirt in service.

Wear layers underneath.
Line the skirt.

Wear boots.

This week, we wear boots.

Boots go with anything -- skirt, dress, trousers, coat and hat -- and are sooo practical. A dressy boot can hide a chunky sock on a day when nylons are foreign to the climate. A tall boot can elongate a short leg (keep the colour flowing from boot to skirt - ie black boot and black skirt). A knee-high or high ankle boot hides a thick ankle or calf -- they make skirt-wearing a joy. []** If you're careful selecting your style of boot, it can be worn on almost any occasion - casual or dressy, home, shopping, or church. Probably not for formal, but that's why that category of dressing is called special occasion. = ) You expect special food, special clothes, and special heating.

**I don't usually recommend Trinny and Susannah material, because they are crude and their orientation is sexual attraction. They do offer some practical wisdom, but it's difficult to filter the good from the bad.

Things you should know before shopping for boots:

What colour?
What fabric?
What price range?
What heel height?
What size?
Store or catalogue?

Black, grey, brown, white, red? Decide what coordinates best with the outfits in your wardrobe. However, if you have the funds for a special pair, don't be shy of cheerful red or dazzling white that goes with everything. Just remember that you'll need the coordinating shoe care kit in order to prolong the look and life of your boots -- black polish doesn't look so good on red leather!

Suede is easy to care for. You don't need nugget/polish, only a suede brush to remove dried dirt.
Real leather is amenable to being oiled and polished, retaining it's fine appearance.
Synthetic will be cheaper, but will quickly show wear.

Price range
Brand names and construction fabric make a difference to the price. If you're a label enthusiast or you want real leather, you may have to pay more. However, stores are eager to get rid of their stock and I've been surprised at the significant sales they're offering before we're even properly into winter.

Heel height
Do you want a dress boot or a casual boot? The way stores separate these catagories has a lot to do with heel height. If you are considerate of your spine, you won't be wanting a spiked heel. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, you won't be wanting a tiny standing platform. Just because everyone else seems to be stretching themselves doesn't mean you have to. You can be wise and stylish at the same time. There are boot options that don't promote the long leg and bouncing backside display.

Are you going to wear stockings or socks inside your boots? This will effect what size is suitable. If your boots are sheepskin lined, you probably won't be wanting to wear heavy socks as well. If your boots are synthetic fibre, you'll feel most comfortable in cold conditions if you have a foot covering that wicks the moisture away from your tootsies. Make sure you take the appropriate socks or stockings with you when you go shopping.

Because boots cover where shoes don't, you have another area to consider -- your ankles and calves. Some boots are a slender fit. Some provide for wider proportions. Some styles are cleverly designed to cater for calf differences, such as lace-ups and half-mast zips looking like they're on purpose. Make sure you fasten the boot all the way up and walk around to check it's comfortable.

Store or Catalogue?
Internet and mail-order catalogues are the most convenient way for many of us to find the apparel we need, but how do you handle the challenge of choosing the correct size?
  1. Find the shoe size guide in the catalogue. It will give instructions on how to measure your foot and find the ...relative.... shoe size.
  2. If you're still not sure, order 2 sizes. Mail order companies have a returns policy that caters for this because they recognize that you don't have the opportunity to try on before you purchase. Shipping rates are usually standard, so you don't have to pay extra for them to ship the second pair. You will have to pay for it's return, but recycling their packaging helps keep this cost to a minimum. They may even offer a special returns rate by using their pre-printed returns label.


NZ find-a-footwear-store
I went to Google NZ, selected "pages from New Zealand" under the search bar, and typed in "footwear". I found this link which allowed me to browse through a variety of online shoestores in my country. While I have tried to cover a reasonable portion of the world, such research is extremely time consuming, so if you don't see anything you like here, try this search method for yourself.

Ezibuy ( or offer 7 new boot styles in the latest catalogue, some of which the ladies above are wearing. Here is a clearer view of them:

Number 1 Shoes offer a 15% discount voucher if you register with their database. Doesn't list boot fabric, doesn't show zip, but a low price of $49.95 for the style illustrated below.

The 3 items in the boot section are only a small example of the many styles in-store. The website provides a find-a-store feature. Number 1 Shoes specialize in cheap footwear, so don't expect the quality, service, and information of somewhere like Overland Footwear.
following 2 images
Hot Style, Cool Comfort. Designed for fashion, engineered for comfort - you don’t have to compromise. Kumfs are light, soft, cushioned, and have support where you need it.
You can browse Kumf styles online, but you can't buy them there. The website doesn't mention prices, but they do provide a store locator feature (with stores in NZ, Australia, USA, and Hong Kong) and a contact option so you can phone, fax, or email and ask for price and current stock details. If a store doesn't stock an item but it's on the website, they will probably be happy to order it in for you. Stores like this offer loyalty discounts, so be sure to ask what's available. If you and your friends all buy at the same time, it might win you all a special discount.

Overland Footwear offers a store locator, online purchasing, trend advice, and a varied and gorgeous range of boots. The following 10 images are merely a sample of this.

Overland shoecare tips and products are found here. Quality footwear isn't cheap, so it's worthwhile knowing how to make it last.

Sheepskin boots like these from Koolaburra are popular and certainly cosy, but there are two drawbacks. They're entirely casual and they don't offer any arch support. They may seem a snug fit when you first try them on, but very little wear will flatten the wool and leave quite a bit of wiggle room.

I found these and the following styles from by googling for 'sheepskin boots'. Commonly known as Ugg boots, they come in a mulitude of colours and designs.
But what I was actually looking for was wool-lined leather dress boots, not so common right now. I found some here:
following 3 images

The following pair are made of felt.The key to finding what you want on Google is picking the most accurate search phrase. I got better results googling for "lined boot". Results included: offers the Uma Shearling Lined Boot - visit web to view image.

This search link offers several options of lined boot. The above image is just one of them.

B A Mason says: "Finding the right fit in a tall boot just got a lot easier. Blondo’s side-zip, Water-Resistant Leather Boots offer you a selection of calf sizes. There’s a back elastic gore panel on the 14" boot and a side elastic gore panel on the 16" and 18" boots to add an extra stretch factor. Soft felt insoles. Ultrasuede linings. Slip-resistant, rubber-like soles stay flexible even as temperatures drop. Sensible 1-1/2" stacked heels. And they’re practically maintenance-free … salt, calcium and mud wipe off easily with a damp cloth."

I'm particularly interested in this part: "Soft felt insoles. Ultrasuede linings." Most boots have a synthetic lining which encouraged the foot to sweat, something that can make you very uncomfortable when it's cold!
next 5 images

This website has a huge range of boots divided into very specific categories. There's a button for white boots, one for fleece-lined boots, one for leather boots, one for low-heeled boots...and so on down a list of 70 options, plus a sale section.

Next week: "Bootiful Memories". If you have a story and/or photo about boots, email us at BoutiqueNarelle(at) We'd love to hear from you.

More coming

I'm running a tad late this week. It seems I can't perform a concert and post a fashion column on the same day. But listen hard and you'll hear the sound of many feet approaching...

April Cornell 3-day sale

Shop now for 25% off fresh and feminine summer skirts and blouses at April Valid until June 2nd.

Spotlight Bargains - June 2008

Butterick Sewing Patterns
all now one low price of NZ$8.90, or $8 for a VIP (member). Sale for 12 days only (ends Sunday, 8th June).

Several sewing machines are reduced from between NZ$100 - $150. Machine-buying tips: test-drive it in the shop, and make sure the shop offers an accessible repair/warranty service.

20% off 'Klasse' scissors and needles. Even a beginner seamstress can't get along without a quality pair of sewing shears. A good metal pair isn't cheap, so grab one while it's discounted.

25% off Creation Stations washable trims (braid, ric-rac, etc) that add that classy look to your garment.

Broderie Anglaise, that delicate embroidered cotton, is reduced to NZ$6.99m. Stock up for summer! Available in several pretty colours.

All plain Flannelette is 25% off. Available in a range of pretty colours. Most people make cosy nightwear out of it. I recommend it for winter skirt linings! Cheap, sturdy, and oh, so warm! Even a store-bought skirt can have a lining added, although it does make it easier if the skirt waist has a free-hanging facing. In subsequent posts, Boutique Narelle will demonstrate how to do this, so get your fabric now while it's on special! All you need is double the length of the skirt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

When Skirts are Too Cold, Part I

When chill airs and wintry winds get close and friendly, is it possible to wear skirts and be cosy? I've heard many say it isn't, but I know otherwise.

Are you ready to receive impowering information?
How to be warm in a skirt:
  1. Wear layers underneath. Undercover solutions discussed below.
  2. Line the skirt. Illustrated directions on how to do this coming soon.
  3. Wear boots.

Introducing Damart

The heart of the Damart story is a unique fabric called Thermolactyl, which provides lightweight insulation against the worst of weathers. A classy, modern 'long-john' provider, the company is very sport oriented, with a number of sponsorship affiliations, keeping fit young sportsmen warm during the the winter and helping prevent muscle injuries.

The ability of Damart underclothes to provide the best thermal environment whilst still keeping the body dry and able to function normally has meant that Damart has travelled successfully to all corners of the earth and up some of its highest mountains.

But what does this have to do with attractive, feminine modesty?

It's not only the old who feel the cold. Lightweight but wonderfully cosy, a thermal under-layer makes a world of difference to what you can do (or wear) when it's cold! For instance, you can comfortably wear that pretty dress or blouse considered more appropriate to autumn than winter. Long-johns under trousers prevent the frozen thigh syndrome that frigid winds invite so readily. They form a happy temperature arbitration when sitting on cold stone steps.

Notice the different Thermolactyl grades.

The undercover range is dainty and colourful, but there's also a delightful range of outer clothing, some of it incorporating the famous Thermolactyl or a new blend of Thermolactyl and silk. Damart supplies a wide range of sizes and colours, and comfortable shop-from-home features. I have noticed that the website takes a while to display the latest catalogues, so if you want up-to-date product and sales information, go for the mailed version rather than the website.

Browse Damart here:
Damart New Zealand
Damart Australia

Overseas outlets include:

If you prefer to see before you buy, use the website's Store Finder feature.
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