TAKE A PEEK
Pet peeve. At 5’8” and of sturdy Irish-Scandinavian stock, I admit I boast a pair of size 10 feet. Neither too big nor too small for my frame, they’re perfect except when it comes to shopping for shoes. That’s when I find plenty of delightful fancies sporting charming color or embellishment in ‘normal’ sizes but mostly utilitarian or boring shoes in mine. Why? Because unlike smaller "average" sizes, stores never buy enough size 10 plus shoes to go around, and don’t even get me started on the rarity of cool shoes in size 11 that my 5’11” sister is always on the hunt for. In short, we sizably shod women never have the same fun shopping for shoes as our smaller hoofed sisters. Instead of the dilemma of picking between this or that darling pair, for us it’s all about hoping we find something that fits. When I do fall upon a darling pair of bejeweled sandals, flirty heels or sweet flats in my size, you better believe I scoop ’em up immediately whether I need them or not. Like the lovely pair of pale pink strappy heels adorned with beautifully full silk roses I bought not because I needed them (I never even wore them) but because I so rarely see anything that pretty in my size. Think I’m making this stuff up? Next time you’re shopping, take a look around, especially at the sale racks. Once you get to the size "10 and up" rack you’ll find fewer shoes available, and the majority of what you’ll see are loafers, practical pumps and plain ol’ ugly shoes. But there may be hope around the corner. Americans are getting fatter, and the demand for super-sized options is steadily increasing. Who knows, along with super-sized caskets, plane seats, hospital beds and recliners, maybe we’ll see shoes getting bigger as well. Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that shops like Boutique Vieux et Nouveau are meeting the desire for sizeable modern style. Now through July 26, the store is taking pre-orders for women’s (full and half sizes 5-13) ultra-comfy, leather fall footwear from Fidji, guaranteeing shoppers get the size they need in the style they desire when the shoes arrive in September. 1217 E. Brady St., 414-287-9049, boutiquemilwaukee.com.
Speaking of what’s big in large shoes, unfortunately some guys don’t have it any easier. That’s why producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Ru Paul’s Drag U turned to Verona, Wisconsin-based Le Dame shoe company to help morph the show’s featured drag queens into show-stopping glam divas who are able to dance and step out in comfort. Targeting drag, cross-dressing and transgender consumers as well as women who have difficulty finding stylish, sophisticated and sexy shoes in larger sizes, Bernie Fatla launched the company. He was laid off after almost 25 years in the shoe industry when he read an article in The New York Times in 2006 about the difficulty drag queens had in finding comfortable, sexy shoes constructed to fit a man’s foot. Bingo. His new business was launched, and today he and wife Sharon sell everything from ballet flats to sling-backs and professional pumps to thigh-high boots sporting 4-inch heels (sized for women 10. 5- 17 and men 9-15) to stores and organizations across the country. Fatla also stands firm in his desire to make a difference by offering a specially designed and discounted red crinkle patent pump and shoe bag to groups raising funds for Walk A Mile in Her Shoes events, which feature men walking in women’s shoes to help raise money for the prevention of rape, sexual assault and gender violence. You can shop the line, which has been nominated twice for the Erotic Industry Best Accessory award, online at madcityshoes.com or at Total Image, 423 S. Yellowstone Dr., Madison, 608-276-7333.
If you’re looking to have some out-of-the-ordinary fun while helping raise money, you won’t want to miss the Spectacular Spectacular. This big, bold, burlesque-inspired bash benefitting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation takes place July 25 (7 p.m.-midnight) at the Tramont Corporation Warehouse. The evening promises a sizzling hot fashion show, performances by the Brew City Bombshells, DJs as well as awards for best burlesque-inspired ensemble. Tickets $10 student, $25 general, $50 reserved runway and $400 VIP cabaret tables. 3701 N. Humboldt Blvd., spectacularmilwaukee.com.
SAVVY STUFF TO DO
Work Downtown, especially because July 26-30 is Downtown Employee Appreciation week. With the proper business card or employee ID, not only do you get to enjoy lots of games, contests, happy hours and entertainment, but you’re also treated to lots of shopping discounts. Seriously, if you have to work, this is the coolest place to do it. Find out all the details at milwaukeedowntown.com.
Don’t forget to get out and enjoy Summer Gallery Night and Day July 23-24. Thanks to the Historic Third Ward Association, this free premier art event held at 63 venues throughout Downtown encourages both novices and experienced art connoisseurs alike to keep abreast of what’s going on in the creative art world. While you’re out and about, be sure to enter to win free tickets (compliments of ArtSpin) to Charles Allis Museum/Villa Terrace, Danceworks, Discovery World, First Stage Children’s Theater, Florentine Opera Company, In Tandem, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Ballet, Marcus Center, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Wild Space, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theatreworks, Pabst Theater, The Skylight or UWM Peck School of the Arts by simply filling out entry forms at any of the MADA galleries. For a super easy way to get around, hop on the free Friday Gallery Night Express bus, which will make six stops on a continuous loop running through the Third Ward and East Town every 15 minutes. For a full list of shows and activities, visit historicthirdward.org.
Also not to be missed is the Milwaukee Artists Market on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum July 24 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Swing by to see more than 80 emerging and established local artists displaying and selling their paintings, drawings, jewelry, prints, sculpture, wearable art and more. Held under tents, the event goes on rain or shine and is, of course, free to the public. For more info, visit mam.org.
On July 24 (11 a.m.-11 p.m.), with the street closed from Farwell Avenue to Marshall Street, the always-popular Brady Street Festival promises plenty of fun and activity for the whole family. Besides award-winning samplings at Cheesefest, BMX stunts, rock climbing walls, there’s also a fashion show (6 p.m.) featuring cool neighborhood boutiques with great prizes, including airfare to a destination of your choice and $250 or $500 worth of credit to neighborhood merchants and businesses. At 7 p.m., there is a smart and sassy drag show and three stages of live musical entertainment, featuring rock, jazz, folk and Latin music throughout the day. And of course, shoppers can expect lots of outdoor vendors selling fashions, jewelry, arts and crafts and plenty of in-store specials. At the Boutique Vieux et Nouveau clearance sale, for instance, shoppers purchasing one pair of shoes or fashion item at regular price receive a clearance item for free and can shop for jewelry specials during the Suzi Dixon Trunk show. Over at Miss Groove, there’s a trio of great sales like 20 percent off all summer clothing, 30 percent off handbags, buy one item get another of equal or lesser value at half price special and an additional 20 percent off all sale stuff. bradyst.com.
Was it hot or what last week? Luckily I was able to cool off quick with Grass Shower Gel from Lush. With enzyme-rich chlorophyll, sandalwood oil and uplifting bergamot, plus the scent of fresh mown grass, it proved the perfect way to deal with warm weather wilting. Also picked up their Stepping Stone, a zesty little foot-shaped scrub of sea salt and pumice whipped up with soothing cocoa butter that’s perfect for keeping pedicures looking their summertime best. Mayfair, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., 414-443-1177, lushusa.com.
Speaking of refreshing water experiences, Kohler Waters Spa (one of my absolute favorites in the country) has unveiled their new Acoustic, Harmony and Riverbath therapy rooms with treatments highlighting the therapeutic and relaxing properties of water.Experience the invigorating and relaxing underwater musical experience of Fountainhead Vibra Acoustic technology, chromatherapy baths that pair soft color hues and whirlpool jets that mimic the flow of a river or a eucalyptus exfoliation followed by a custom Vichy hyddromassage shower and soothing lavender wrap. There are also new signature treatments such as a Tea for Two bath featuring an effervescent, champagne-like bubble massage perfect for couples interested in spending more time together. Find out more at 419 Highland Dr., Kohler, 800-344-2838, destinationkohler.com.
How’s this for lending a helping hand? Beginning July 26, the talented hair and skin technicians at Capricio Salon and Spaare offering free haircuts and styling, deep conditioning treatments and eyebrow-shaping services to unemployed people who want to update their appearance for job interviews (and stepping up with a 50 percent discount for additional services). Appointments for booked services are available every other Tuesday and Wednesday through August and require a recent Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Benefit Statement to qualify. 3041 N. Oakland Ave, 414-967-0100, capriciosalon.com.
Now at Sprout: Summer’s in full bloom and shoppers receive 25 percent off seasonal kids’ clothing, 20 percent off maternity wear and pajama sets and 40 percent off organic crib set linens. 320 E. Buffalo, 414-289-0844, sproutmilwaukee.com.
Through July 23 at Thief Wine: Two-year store anniversary celebrations translate to in- store and wine bar specials, a chance to win a set of Riedel wine glasses ($49.95 value) and $10 gift certificates with every $100 spent. 400 N. Water St., 414-277-7707, thiefwine.com.
July 25 (2-6 p.m.), shoppers of the green market at Boswell Book Company: Meet Arthur Allen, author of Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato, who will be sharing tales and anecdotes on the dramatic history and lore of the inimitable, versatile garden veggie (or is it technically a fruit?) that is rightfully American’s most popular. 2559 N. Downer Ave., 414-332-1181, boswell.indiebound.com.
Through July 25 at Faye’s (Mequon location): Huge cashmere sweater trunk show featuring tees to outerwear fashions in updated classic to contemporary chic and colorful styles from White + Warren and VKoo. 1505 W. Mequon Rd., 262- 241-8386, fayes123.com.
July 26-30 at A Woman’s Touch: In honor of Downtown Employee Appreciation Week, the store mixes business with a bit of pleasure with a buy one, get one free special on travel sized 50ml bottles of their most popular personal moisturizing lubricant, Liquid Silk. 200 N. Jefferson St., 414-221-0400, awomanstouchonline.com.
Through Aug. 4 online at Design Within Reach: Enter to win a grand prize living room package comprised of a cool retro sofa, armchair, coffee table, nesting side table, lamp and rug, or be one of four first prize winners to receive DVD sets of season 1-3 during the store’s Get the Look of "Mad Men" Sweepstakes.167 N. Broadway St., 414-224-5353, dwr.com.
Through Aug. 14 (or while supplies last) at The Wine Cellar: The city’s Biggest Wine Sale of the year offers deep discounts on hundreds of wines at all price points to drink now or tuck away for later. 12910 W. Bluemound Rd., 262-754-9463, winecellarofwi.com.