Dimestore Norma Desmond

Since we’re a week out from our last real sunbreak, I decided to bring my own sparkle to the table. What’s that? It’s a bit gauche to accessorize one’s T shirt and grocery run with a boisterous cocktail ring?

Baby, don’t be that way. After all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

Grocery-store-bound grandiosity

Since I haven't pulled a weed in 2 weeks, my $10 ring and I are (relatively) ready for our close-up

Is that platinum shoe cream in your pocket or are you just happy to see me

Who knew that the masses could get their hands on metallic and exotically colored shoe creams? I mean hell’s bells: until fairly recently I didn’t even know one should do preventive and after-the-barn-door business with shoe shops, let alone that one could legally purchase gumdrop-hued leather care products. Clearly there’s many a gap in my consumer education.

And as I’m over 40, I’ll admit I felt like a (non-vegan) rube when I discovered that ordinary Janes could get hold of such a wide variety of pigmented prettifiers.

So, emboldened by my wintertime footwear triumph—changing a pair of dead mouse boots to a more satisfying shade of brownish-plum—I decided to strike another blow against ignorance by taking on some past-season sandals.

To help me do battle, I chose tiny pots of Tarrago:

A plethora of Tarrago shoe creams are now mine, mine, mine

Some of my warm-weather footwear just needed rejuvenating: easy. But some, well…some suffered from The Beige Problem. And for a certain segment of the bare-legged population, the Beige Problem is dire.


I guarantee that if the legginess-lovin’ Beyoncé and I swapped bodies, she’d feel my pain. She’d be singing:

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies

Now put your hands UP

Sad and stuck, told to suck it up / Can’t find a decent skintoned shoe”

Because sadly, those with see-through skin tend to require weird taupey-pinks if they want to achieve maximum shoe-to-leg seamlessness. Sorry: those with see-through skin who haven’t been inducted into the cult of self-tanners. [Or gasp shudder pearl clutch tanning booths.] Bone generally works, but anything remotely golden is non-ideal.

I found the perfect color, ONCE. And it was in a slide with a stupid high-contrast dark heel.

A summer staple for several years now, this shoe with the toodamndark heel is my holy-grail color...why must you be so elusive, baby?

But with a pile of pearlescent and metallic creams at my disposal, I figured maybe I could do some damage. Not that gothy-limbed women like me are the only ones who can find/create the color(s) for which they’ve been longing, of course.

Whet Your Appetite, aka Vix’s Top 5 Reasons You Should Try Conquering Colors You Hate

  1. Jars of Meltonian and Tarrago shoe polish cream retail for about $3.50 to 4.50 US
  2. Easy prep—just swab leather shoes with acetone
  3. No fancy tools needed; apply cream with an old T-shirt, towel, or sock
  4. Each coat only takes about 5 minutes to apply, depending on shoe’s construction/detailing
  5. The merest dab ‘o cream will do ya (lower your costs by hosting a polish par-tay)

I started with a pair of non-glamourous but wow! amazingly comfortable, “pillowtop” slides. Their supersoft leather straps don’t turn my high-arched feet into trussed blobs of flesh when the temps and my dogs rise (good), but the straps’ square footage makes the color even more unfortunate (bad).

After 2 coats of a pearly pale pink didn’t make much of a dent in the original shade, I got impatient and did another 2 coats in a luminescent platinum :

Original beige got down with Tarrago Pearly Cream Polish: 2 coats 743 Pale Mauve + 2 coats 714 Steel Gray

I may stop here, or—since I bought silvery-taupe sandals pre-DIY-brainstorm—I may revisit the pink and see if I get closer to my dream believer color. I think the current color sure is purty, though.

Far L and L, DIY'd; R, Clarks Soybean in Silver...I'll be throwing another coat of ye olde Pearly Mauve on my DIY job, but wanted to give silver freaks a look at this

Next up: a tougher case. An even less flattering color, a more complicated shoe, and an item that I’d already tried to change with Meltonian’s Nu-Life Shoe Color Spray.

Alas, I’m afraid I can’t recommend Nu-Life. Aside from its horrible name, I found it way too troublesome; I couldn’t coat the WHOLE shoe at once without getting drips plus the overspray is super-messy. Those into painstaking masking off and tedious rotating of shoes should have at it, though. [Mind I found the leather less supple after spraying, too.]

Determined to can the camel...but can cream polish redeem what my Nu-Life shoe-color spraying attempt has failed?

Having sprayed 2 pairs of shoes, I decided to even them both out with Tarrago’s Rose color, a VERY PINK shade that  more or less matched the Nu-Life. Then the thong got a few coats of pearly pink so I could assess the difference.

The result? Blush vs Bashful.

Since the pearlescent cream mellows out the peeeeeeenk quite a lot, though, the second sandal will get its turn to glow.

Experiment in progress: Both shoes sprayed (not recommended) with Meltonian Shell Pink; L shoe has Tarrago 743 Pale Mauve Pearly Cream Polish, R shoe awaits same after being evened out with Tarrago Cream Polish 24 Rose

And yes: I realize wearing shoes this color will put me on the same level as my 4 year-old niece. But at least now my legs will look longer than hers.

De Millian view...top shoe awaits its time with the mellowing, pearly Tarrago Pale Mauve

Upshot: I wish I had more shoes—or purses—to convert. If only Mr Vix would let me coat his one pair of good black shoes with the pale silver I have yet to try….

Vendor Recommendation: ShoeShineKit.com

Note: All products purchased by me. No monies have been given for the writing of this post.

Tarrago Shoe Creams pictured (front to back/box): Pearly Cream Polish 743 Pale Mauve;  Pearly Cream Polish 714 Steel Gray; Metallic Cream Polish 501 Silver; Metallic Cream Polish 106 High Silver; Shoe Cream Polish 24 Rose.

BettyDraperBlue Scarf

Whenever I watch Mad Men, I discover my trust issues have trust issues. And is it any wonder? Because despite the evidence I’ve seen and the hopes I voiced about our freakishly warm and early spring, the last week has been full of 40 degree temperatures and lots and lots of puddles. Color me red-cheeked—given all I’ve been through in my relationships with Helios and Apollo, I couldn’t believe I’d been so foolish as to embark upon my  “gallivanting in grey” experiment before July.

But I stayed the course. [Loyally. Trustingly.] Surely I was jumping to conclusions about what this change in weather meant?

If only. In fact, just as in the past, these gods of sun and light were off making other pastures green; neither had plans to return anytime soon. I’d committed to wearing grey and white and black, true, but now they’d changed the terms of our contract and I was miserable!

So I guess it’s a good thing I’m not the same person I used to be. While there’s no denying that the shadow shades still dominate my closet, now I’ve got sunset hues and oceanic tints to boost my mood when the sky goes grim.

Alas, keeping the spring rain and cold from having their way with me means bundling up in my squid-ink blacks and bitter-chocolate browns—but I’ve finally learned that in order to establish my independence, I’ve got to be ruthless about stashing a little blue sky up my sleeve.

Offsetting weather-appropriate winter browns with calendar-appropriate blues

...plus an improvised (pardon: ARTISANAL) scarf ring made from an old silver cuff

This vintage silk scarf has some easily hidden damage in one corner (dare I suggest from cigarette ash?)

Blue Curaçao Blossoms

While blue + green may well be my favorite color combination, blue + blue runs a close second. Ethereal, Diane-Keaton-in-Something’s-Gotta-Give ensembles certainly have their charms. As a pale-skinned brunette, however, I find no devil in the deep blue sea—when even vaguely warm weather hits, I look for any excuse to cruise out the door in a tone-on-tone outfit. Though my casual, Rectangle/H-friendly “cascade cardigan” provides a pretty good reason to start walkin,’ it’s my $5 vintage enamel earrings that lead the way.

[Ok, I broke rank with the black boots.]

Now I can’t wear every Etta James hue near my face without a little intervention—wearing navy solo just highlights my undereye circles—but most shades make me look positively, alarmingly-false-advertisingly angelic. Even without Ms Eileen’s magical-fairy lighting. Naturally enough, I’m a repeat offender when it comes to buying blue. But surely there’s no denying that every wolf’s closet needs a variety of sheepish camouflauge?

Hey 2009: Don’t let the door hit you in the backside

SOMEWHERE NORTH OF SAN FRANCISCO, December 31 — Mr Vix and I have spent most of the last two weeks road-tripping from northwest Oregon to southern California and back again. Though the journey was my idea, this is the type of drive that does no favors to one’s ass, as one must sit on it seemingly forever. By the time we make it home in a few days, we’ll have logged about 50 hours in the car. But what price warmth and clear skies? I mean, getting to see family over the holidays?!

[Though luckily we saw family and one of my funniest friends. Because buffers are always a plus, and buffers who live in exceedingly pleasant jewel-box houses are even MORE of a plus.]

Much to my travel companion’s shock, I did not bring my laptop. Hey, when I unplug, I like to go all BEHOLD MY POWER SURGE. However: we’re at at the last stop on our Holiday 2009 Freeloaders’ Tour. And the family computer sits empty for a moment. And the year ends tonight.

So best wishes to all for a Happy 2010.

Me, I’ll be starting January on a positive note by knowing Mr Vix is sure to sing a different tune about day trips. Plus I’ll be all endorphined up reviewing the photos I nabbed on our vacation. So far 99% of them involve shots of blue sky—JUST blue sky—but if you share my fetish, drop in for the upcoming show and tell. I’ll be posting from underneath my poncho, trying to keep my mail-order optimism dry and sheltered. Somehow, I have a feeling I’m gonna need it to handle 12 more months of who-the-hell-knows.