Shopping

By Sharon Gomes Thomas

For someone who swears that she doesn’t have a shoe or bag obsession, I seem to have an awful lot of shoes and bags. They cover the floor of my ample closets in my bedroom and in the hallway. I think they must be mating and multiplying like rabbits, because at the end of last winter, I gave a big collection of footwear and totes in various states of disrepair to my kind cleaning lady. Luckily she’s approximately the same size and age as I am, and doesn’t seem to mind the slightly out-of-season fashion that I palm off on her…or that the soles of my right shoes seem to have worn down faster than my left. I think it’s because I carry way too much stuff in my pocketbook. This so-called charitable act saves me the hassle of lugging my cast-offs to the nearest Salvation Army Center. I could just throw them in the garbage, I guess, but I’m all for the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

When I was invited to a wedding in Tampa, Florida, recently, I wasn’t worried about picking the right accessories to go with my new summer dress. I figured that I could find something in the dark recesses of my closets. A couple of days before my departure, as I was deciding on what to bring down south with me, I realized that I seemed to have an abundance of black leather footwear, especially in the boot variety. And my ownership of any semblance of a cute purse or baguette consisted solely of a Hello Kitty cotton drawstring bag bought at a 99Yen store in Tokyo. The wedding was going to be on the beach at a country club, and I’d make the wrong kind of fashion statement if I turned up wearing black boots with my Japanese dollar store purchase slung over my shoulder.
Looking to put some damage on my credit card, I trotted off to Chuckies on the Upper East Side (1073 Third Ave at 63 St.) in my orange flip-flops. The bright window display with its flirty assortment of shoes and plastic flowers confirmed that this was going to be an easy one-stop shopping trip. The problem, it turned out, was deciding on what to get from this shoe candy store. The store’s philosophy is to start trends, not follow them, and I was greeted with an array of choices of sophisticated pumps, sexy sandals, airy slides, practical low heels and nose-bleed high heels…there was something to satisfy every mood.

Trying on shoes at Chuckies is like playing dress-up when you were a kid. There are so many different styles and looks to glide into, with brands like Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, YSL, Stella McCartney and Emilio Pucci. They even have their own, slightly lower-priced line of Chuckies shoes, which were started a couple of seasons ago. My favorite were the unusual SKY shoes with buttery leather and fun platform heels, a little impractical to wear on the beach for the wedding, but entertaining to try on nonetheless, as I pretended to be taller than my short self. The store’s two big comfy sofas that look like they’re covered with old denim jeans are perfect for kicking off your heels and slipping on new ones.

For over 15 years, this cozy store has catered to the shoe and handbag fetishes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Ripa…celebrity clientele who probably have closets bigger than the size of an average NYC apartment. If you’re looking to bring some “bling-bling” into your life like these celebrities, Chuckies has a new line of handbags that definitely caught my eye. Designed by the store’s creative team, headed by owner Richard Erani, these are hand-made of creamy calfskin crafted in Italy.

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Chuckies’ quirky bags are big enough to hold all your essentials, most of them having the versatility of going from the day into the cocktail hour. And they beg to be noticed with their luscious trimmings. About half of the line has Swarovski crystals embedded into the leather, the most extravagant of which are the black Chloe bag, and my favorite, the pink Lucky bag. The Gloria boasts a zebra pony print, while the two E’s (Emma and Ella) are made from luxurious mink fur. You have a choice of white or black mink for the Emma bag. As fur was seen in a lot of the Fall/Winter Collections, these bags may fulfill your fluffy hankerings if you’re a little wary of being totally enveloped in a fur coat.

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After narrowing down all the shoe options, I finally wore a sweet pair of sandals that were encrusted with turquoise to the wedding. And feeling mischievous, our table only took photos of our feet with the disposable camera that was on all the dinner tables. Imagine the bride and groom’s surprise when they develop that roll of film!

CHUCKIES
1073 Third Avenue at 63 Street
Open: Mon – Sat, 10:45 am-7:45 pm; Sun 12:30- 7:00pm
Tel: (212) 593-9898
SALE until July 5
Forty to sixty percent off shoes from YSL, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and others.

Originally published July 2004
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