Shoe Trends Interview with Jillian Downer

Crystal Schwanke
lace and Mary Janes

Who knows shoe trends better than a girl with a self-professed shoe obsession? That's why LoveToKnow Shoes spoke with Jillian Downer of blog, The Shoe Dish, about what's hot for 2009 and how to shop for trends year after year.

The Beginning of the Shoe Dish

LTK: How did you get started with the Shoe Dish? Was it your love of shoes? Your love of blogging? Both?

JD: The Shoe Dish came about by pure happenstance. As a young writing professional, new to the game of freelancing, I was told that a blog was a great way to establish a network in the writing community. I wasn't interested in writing a diary blog, but friends and colleagues soon convinced me to find a niche and run with it. My love, knowledge, and ability to spot trends when it comes to shoes made shoes a natural choice. The Shoe Dish began as a little blog I thought that my friends and family would enjoy. I never knew it would grow into what it is today.

Shoe Trends in Time

LTK: What will some of the shoe trends be in 2009?

JD: 2009 will see a ton of new styles and a natural recycling of the old classics--like Mary Janes and driving shoes--reinterpreted. As we finish off winter, we'll see more boots and booties. Two extremes: super high shafts and super low shafts. Booties, ankle booties, and over-the-knee or thigh-high boots are big yet again.

Super stilettos have launched themselves onto the runways towering at ridiculous heights, but this style will be made easier with the continuation of the hidden platform. Summer will see more extreme platforms when it comes to sandals, but expect the espadrille to fade a bit.

Moccasins and fringe will remain, but summer will add an interesting touch to this look, when fringe and suede make a play date with sandals. Think bright skins, like purple snakeskin booties, but keep a pair of nude pumps around as well. You'll be needing them to play down the wild summer prints that will pop up mid-April. Right now, you'll want to stock your closets with squared-toed pumps, lace, and extreme pointy-toe pumps.

LTK: Do you think that trends shift less from one year to the next in times of economic crisis, or do the trends keep changing about the same from year to year regardless?

JD: In the last decade, trends seem to revolve around celebrity and pop culture. If an icon wears it, it will inevitably be on every person from here to Egypt. While the economy does have an effect on how much we consume, it doesn't really change how we consume. Ecologically, however, is a different story. Today, going green is as trendy as it is sensible. Environmental standards have certainly put their stamp on fashion.

Shopping for Trends

LTK: Do you have any tips for shopping for shoes on a budget? Where can you cut corners?

JD: My main goal in life is to buy really great shoes at really low prices. Bargain shopping is actually quite simple these days, especially with the Internet. One of the best things to do when you see a pair of shoes you like is to do a general internet search for it. Check the prices at all the stores offering said shoe and compare. There are drastic differences between shoe prices depending on the seller.

Sign up for newsletters and buy during holiday sales. If you join a company's mailing list, you'll find out about special deals and offers, get discounts on upcoming orders, and often be eligible for free shipping. Shop at discount warehouses, like Filene's Basement, DSW, and Shoes on a Shoestring. Buy trendy shoes at affordable shoe stores like Bakers, Alloy, and Payless. Try them on!!! The best way to cut corners is to try shoes on and wear them for five to ten minutes before deciding you'll buy them. You'd be surprised at how many shoes you'd get over if you wore them for five minutes.

LTK: Which "trends" tend to come back year after year (or at least pretty frequently) and would make good investments?

Great shoes don't have to cost a bundle, but there is something to be said for a solid investment. If you're looking to put a solid designer shoe in your closet, stick to the basics. By basics, we don't mean a standard black pump. Design should be your main concern. Round-toe or peeked-toe pumps, Mary Janes, T-straps, and a classic cocktail heel will all see a long life even if they have a fun texture, come in a colorful hue, or have some animal instinct.

Every girl should have five basic shoes in her closet: A round or pointy-toe pump, a strappy dress sandal, a knee-high boot, a structured flat, and a sexy (depending on your taste) party heel. A few tips:

  1. Please don't get caught up in the stiletto and super stiletto trend if you can't walk in heels. Sophisticated and sexy has nothing to do with heel height.
  2. Quality shoes that fit the trends can be purchased without breaking the bank.
  3. Unless you're opposed to leather, buy it!

LTK: What's your go-to type of shoe?

JD: Mary Janes heels. There is just something about this shoe. It's versatile, it's classic, and it has the ability to be just about anything. I have a pair of red Mary Janes that I could wear with virtually every single outfit, dressy or casual, in my closet.

Shoe Trends Interview with Jillian Downer