You Need This... I Promise

The K. Jacques Sandals

 

tower of power

 

It is still a little chilly here in Atlanta in the mornings, and being cold-natured, I keep my socked feet tucked into my boots well into spring, when others are sweating by 10AM. So we are almost halfway through April and I am just now beginning to look at our current lineup of K. Jacques sandals to choose the one new pair I will allow myself this season. All in all, I must have 25 pairs of these sandals. I know it sounds like a lot, but I promise you, I wear all of them. For me, they have always been the quintessential summer sandal, so I have carried in my shop since Day 1. We make our own chic sandals as well that are a bit more 'structured' and Italian in feel, but for me, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the classic French Riviera style that K. Jacques has been perfecting for nearly a hundred years. There are a few other coastal cities with their own iconic sandals — Capri sandals from Italy, Havaianas flip-flops from Rio de Janeiro, Jack Rogers in Florida — that perfectly represent the local style. Even if they can't take you to your destination on foot, they are evocative enough to take you there in your head.

But I remain fiercely loyal to K. Jacques. When we go to the showroom in New York each season, we have to gear ourselves up for a long and complicated (but fun) process... a feast of choice. There are thousands of permutations available to order. Each style starts with a choice of leather: classic calfskins, embossed exotics, neon patents, ponies, metallics, 15 different shades of brown. And then one upper can have three different stacked heels – block, wedge, or flat – which does not even include the cork options. Sometimes you can choose hardware or straps or combine multiple leathers on the same shoe. It is a challenge. I tend to gravitate towards the ones I always love... and am usually reminded (or chastised) by my head of design that we can't do the same thing AGAIN! (Being a true designer, she is on to the next.) I can't help it, though. I can just SEE my past self in the Ganges sandals, marching to the beach with my toddlers in tow... just as easily as I can see my future self in a pair of Rheas heading to a hopeful seaside vacation with Sid. There is something about these that makes me place myself in the PLACE before I place myself in the shoes. Anyway, suffice it to say, there is enough legacy and romance to this brand that I hardly need to elaborate. They've been made in St. Tropez in the exact same way since 1933, and everyone knows that we love a good family business...

 

two different vacations spent in K. Jacques

 

I once spent 6 hours straight on a flight to Milan gobbling up a miniseries called Riviera with Julia Stiles. It wasn't five-star television, but she looked so sexy in her little silk shirtdresses prancing around the Cote d'Azur. I am not sure there was any focus on her French sandals, or on her wardrobe at all, but I can tell you that if I were her, there would be K. Jacques on my feet. They are in every bag I pack for travel in the summer and there is usually a pair in the backseat of my car as backup. To me they are the perfect essential travel take-along. I always find shoes to take up the most space (and weight) in my bag. And if you can only take one pair, it has to be these. One shoe – multiple uses. The flat sandals can make their way to the beach (I don't bother with rubber flip-flops or soccer sandals; these are more versatile), down the streets of your favorite walking city (I prefer them to ballet flats), and then it can make it all the way to evening with low-key jeans or with the little dress you thought to pack. I have even worn them with a long silk shantung dress to a fancy wedding. They looked chic, although the flat sole meant I was not quite as tall as I would have liked. Compromise is key when you're working with a carry-on... but on the other hand, they were excellent on the dance floor.

The classic and original style is the Dionysos. I also adore the flip-flop-ish Tonkin and the delicate Actium. And we always buy one over-the-top style each season... this year it is the red suede Ficus Heel. It is a very bold, disco-looking wooden platform sandal that I adore. They remind me of Maggie Rogers, who I am crazy for... they would look fantastic with her high-waisted jeans. She may not be able to keep them on her feet with her incredible free-spirited dancing – I went to see her last week and she was in motion the entire time – but they are the absolute perfect proportion and look for her. The more classic block-heeled ones have a heavy presence in my own closet – it's amazing how they go with nearly every summer look you can imagine. They elevate a simple jeans-and-t-shirt combination (pun not intended) and they are a chic, casual, not-trying-too-hard solution for almost every dress or skirt you want to wear in the summertime. Silks to cotton and back again... again, as with my flats, you can even take them to a wedding. Sometimes, when it's hot outside and the days are so long, fancier materials can feel like they need something to tamp them down a bit. For me, brown leather and bright silk are a great yin and yang.

I will warn you – they are true leather on the bottom, and after three summers or so of heavy wear, you may need to retire them. The leather gets softer and forms to your foot the more you wear them, and they feel more like slippers, which isn't a bad thing for some! You can always demote them to "back of the car" sandals for emergencies. My daughters are particularly hard on their sandals. When I see them all soft and a bit turned-up in the shoe basket by the door, I smile a bit, thinking of all the miles they have been put through. (I wish I could adopt this same attitude about the wrinkles on my face – working on it!) But you will know that they have given you lots of service and beauty, and you can appreciate them for that – very Marie Kondo – and then treat yourself to a new pair to repeat the cycle. You need a pair, or two, or five. I promise.

Cute summer interns K. Jacques-d out

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