Battle of the Black Pumps
I have been wanting to buy a pair of Black Patent pumps for a while now. There are very few brands that make a size 34. Though Via Spiga and other mid priced brands (under $200) manufacture a few styles (d’orsay, block heel pumps) in my size, they never worked out. 9 out of 10 times, the heel shape or style or leather is not what I want.
This year, I made peace with the fact that the shoe department is one place where I will spend more than the average woman interested in style. I cut down on bags and other accessories as I really don’t like having to change my bags. Also, my accessories game is minimal. Moreover, the single sole pump has been on my wish list for quite some time now. I’ve talked about it here and here. It was time to bite the bullet and buy a pair.
I found 2 contestants on my quest for well made, single sole, black patent pumps that were AVAILABLE IN MY SIZE – Salvatore Ferragamo Fiore, Manolo Blahnik Nausikaba.
Jimmy Choo’s Romy was in the running too. But, Nordstrom shipped calf leather. The customer care informed me that it was the only leather available in my size. In my past experience, calf leather wears out much faaster, and needs more maintenance.
I am not a great photographer. All of the photos were taken on my Iphone. Also, please forgive the horribly tanned feet. I am coming back after spending two weeks, barefoot, at the beach 😦
L to R: Salvatore Ferragamo Fiore, Manolo Blahnik Nausikaba, Jimmy Choo Romy
Ferragamos: Initially I thought these run small. But upon wearing them around the house, I realize that they don’t really run small, they are just snug. Every woman’s foot shape is unique, I have slighly wide toes and very, very narrow ankles. This is the worst possible combination for pumps. If I size up the ankle keeps slipping out of the shoe and if I size down the toe box becomes a bit tight.
Manolo Blahnik: Most websites clearly call out that MBs run a half size small. I think they just run a tad bit narrow that’s all. I ordered both size 34.5 and size 34. On me the size 34.5 was loose (my narrow ankles result in poor grip). But I’ll say this: The half size difference can easily be fixed with shoe/sole inserts. Now I know that if I find a good deal on ebay the next time for size 34.5, I can go for it and ‘make it work’.
I specifically chose these pairs, because they are all UNDER 3 inches. The heel height listed on the websites is 70MM for all of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is actually less than 70mm as they are Size 34s. (Heel heights go down for small shoe sizes)
L to R: Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik. You can see the difference in shape and heel
Value for Money:
The Ferragamos retail for $575, Jimmy Choos for $595 and Manolos for $665. I got the Ferragamos at 30% off.
We all know luxury pricing is non-linear, i.e, as the quality increases, the price doesn’t increase linearly. It just shoots up. You essentially pay for the brand name, PR, advertising and the actual quality on luxury products.If quality and price increased linearly, I’d say all the 3 pairs are worth between $200 and $300 each. Bottom Line: If you can find your size on sale, go for it! If you can find them on the pre-owned market and they happen to be in good condition, even better!*
This is the tricky part. ‘Comfort’ is very relative. Comfort levels defer from person to person! But, I will try to keep this as relevant as possible.
The heel height was incredibly comfortable. I did not feel like my feet were positioned at an uncomfortable ‘arch’ / angle. Kudos to all shoe brands that make 70mm heels! Ferragamos have quite a bit of cushioning. Though the MBs have slightly less cushioning (it could just be my perception), they were equally comfortable.
Like any other patent leather shoe, both the pairs were a bit snug in the toe box. They will need breaking in. Having said that, the snugness is NOT a deal breaker on either of the shoes. They can be easily loosened with the old rubbing alcohol and thick socks trick!
Side Note: It is incredibly frustrating to know that Ferragamo makes shoes in AA, A, B, and C widths for all sizes except Size 34!
Shape, Silhouette and Personal preferences:
At decision time, It came down two things – Toe Cleavage and Price.
Let me get honest, I don’t really like toe cleavage. Some people think it is too sexy and inappropriate, some people think it is stylish and beautiful, some others think all high end shoes should show toe cleavage. But, I just really don’t care for it. I can’t figure out why it is considered sexy or ugly. I know enough women who don’t even bother about it or notice it. My issue has more to do with the fit – Each time I see toe cleavage, I FEEL that the shoes don’t fit well and are not made for the wearer’s feet. It is just that I associate toe cleavage with bad fit. I will be the first one to acknowledge that I might be completely wrong here. It is just a personal preference. No toe cleavage = classic in my book. So, the Ferragamos felt like the right choice for me.
Ferragamos: No Toe Cleavage
Manolos: I think all MB pumps(BB, D’orsay, Nausikaba) show a bit of the toes.
If we take the toe cleavage nonsense out of the equation, both shoes are very beautiful. The quality is comparable. But, I cannot comment on how they will wear.
Final Thoughts and Decision Time:
I decided to keep the Ferragamos for various reasons. I have had success with this brand in the past. There is no toe cleavage and I love that! I am sure I can stretch out the toe box to fit more comfortably. The price is almost $300 less than the other two pairs. Chance of finding any of these shoes at a sale price, in my size is pretty much impossible (The Shoe Gods decided to throw me a bone with the sale price of this Ferragamo pair and I better take it). Also Ferragamo did NOT do any patent leather in Fiore pumps in the last 1 year. My SA says that they may not do it in that heel height any more!
Overall, I will recommend both the MBs and Ferragamos at a good SALE price to anyone looking for a good pair single sole pumps.
* I am recommending you to buy them only if you NEED a pair of shoes.