Coffee Break: Vara Low Heel Pumps

best low heel pumps for work - classic style! When I started the blog years ago, one of the first things I learned from readers was about some great brands for comfortable heels — I already knew about Cole Haan, but it was through discussions here that I discovered Stuart Weitzman and Salvatore Ferragamo. Ferragamo has higher, sleeker heels, but these low Vara pumps continue to be classics (as do the Varina flats). Every year they come out in a ton of neutrals as well as colors, and they have that preppy, “old money” kind of look about them. They’re $575 at full price, and as luxury items there are limited ways you can get a discount on them. (The main one that comes to mind is opening a store credit card for the “get 20% off ANY purchase!” discount.) Another way is to get them through the yearly ShopBop sale, which, as mentioned yesterday, is on right now through April 14. They still have sizes 4–11 left in the basic black, and with code EVENT18 they come down to $431. Nice. Vara Low Heel Pumps

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  1. Weird tech issues today. S i t e is loading super slow or not at all and now there are two Coffee Break posts

  2. Anon Schmanon :

    DH and I are invited to a couples’ shower. The invitation does not mention a registry, only the couples’ honeymoon fund. What do we do in this situation? Gift money for both the shower and the wedding?

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Search for a registry anyway on common sites: pottery barn, bed bath and beyond, whatever would be typical for your area. I’ve found several that way.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      Ask the host if they have a registry! Since there is some gift info on the invitation, I suspect it may turn out they’re having a honeymoon-fund-shower, which imo is tacky.

      But you’re allowed to give gifts that aren’t on the registry, for both showers and registries, if you don’t want to just give money.

      • Anonymous :

        +1. DH and I received a lot of gifts that were not on our registry. Some are cherished keepsakes or at least things that we really enjoy(ed) having, and some are not. The bottom line is that nobody is obligated to give from the registry or contribute to a honeymoon fund or give enough cash to cover their plate or anything of the sort.

    • Marshmallow :

      Sounds like a honeymoon fund shower– so tacky. I’d decline.

      • Same. Something about friends charging admission to their party rubs me the wrong way.

        And I’d otherwise buy a really nice gift from their registry. But the cash grab – just yuck.

      • Anonymous :

        Wait what? This is a thing? How… what… why….

      • Anon Schmanon :

        Unfortunately, this is for DH’s very good friend and DH has accepted a role in the wedding, so I don’t think we can decline without good reason.

    • Anonymous :

      Huh? We have a honeymoon fund and no physical gifts on our registry. I would definitely not have a shower in that circumstance. A shower for what?

    • They might just be having a shower to have a party and honor the occasion. My husband and I did not have a registry (or a honeymoon fund) but some friends and family threw me a shower anyway. I got a couple small gifts from family and that was it. I would not automatically view it as a money grab.

    • Anonymous :

      I usually do not give separate gifts for showers and weddings. It’s become common to have 3-4 parties leading up to a wedding, and I just can’t buy a gift for an engagement party, shower, and bachelor*tte party in addition to a wedding gift. In this case, if there’s no registry, the couple is unlikely to be opening gifts at the shower, so I’d give a card at the shower and either buy a gift or write a check later as a wedding gift.

    • Anonymous :

      Do them the favor of not attending the shower or the wedding. That way they can contribute the money they save to their honeymoon fund, you can spend your money and time in a way you actually want to, and everybody wins!

      • Anonymous :

        A shower is hosted by someone else, the couple doesn’t save any money if you don’t attend.

  3. I asked this question on another post, but didn’t get responses, so thought I’d try again!

    Does anyone with wide feet have experience with the Vara or Varina? Do the wide width sizes fit true-to-size? I’d love some nice looking shoes to fit my wide feet, and these are certainly the nicest I’ve found.

    • Since your handle says you are in NY I’m going to encourage you to go the Ferragamo store and try them on. They are super nice there. My friend bought a bag and I tagged along. Champagne and everything. They were also super patient and not pushy, and my friend is a long-decider (which is why I mostly can’t shop with her)

      • Agreed. Grandma Trudy has fat feet with corns, and she LOVES Ferragamo’s! Plus she is over 80 years old, so they give her special attention when she goes in with me! Go for it!

      • Anonymous :

        ? We have a Ferragamo store in DC. I bought my Varinas at a Ferragano store in the Atlanta airport (it was SO sad I left my heels for a conference at home by mistake!)

        I think they run true to size and are a bit narrow. They can probably customize anything. Nordstrom I think will ship them to you free returns.

    • I find them a bit narrow. Instead I have Stuart Weitzman flats, called Capture.

  4. Metallica :

    I love these shoes. Ferragamos make me nostalgic for my late grandmother, who loved Ferragamos and had great style (and swagger) right up until she passed at 99.

    • If I could afford to replace all my shoes with these, I would. No apologies for old lady style. They’re classic for a reason!!

      • Anonymous :

        Weren’t these recently called “menopause heels”? I’m in that demographic so I suppose it’s time for me to buy a pair.

      • Metallica :

        Interesting—my grandma wore a lot of timeless/ageless stuff so I don’t really associate them with age…just her :). I think they’d look good on anyone!

      • Alanna of Trebond :

        If anyone wants a low(er) cost dupe of these – Cole Haan’s Tali Bow pumps are pretty close and are quite comfortable (I have them in pink)

    • I like them, but have always been hesitant to wear them in my more male-dominated office. The bows just look a bit too twee and feminine to me…although to be fair, I also dress very menswear inspired during the week so it doesn’t really fit in.

      • Could the feminine/twee note add a little bit of playful balance to the menswear-inspired look, though?

        Like a black suit with a sprightly bright scarf – an offset to the overall tone?

    • I love these too! I never thought of them as old lady shoes. I think they’re classic and beautiful. Also, a lot easier to walk in than thinner heels.

  5. Paging Candidate :

    As a former mascot and student at Big Red I hope you get the role you want and am jealous that you get to work far above Cayuga’s waters.

    Also, you shouldn’t actually do this, but part of me thinks you should wear a suit with a Lynah Faithful t shirt under it….Maximum school spirit

    • Anonymous :

      Just FYI, University of Nebraska is also a user of the “Big Red” moniker, so I’m not sure how much you can assume location based just on that.

  6. I’m attending a wedding in Normandy this summer for two dear friends (French and Swiss). Any thoughts on a good gift? I’ve only been to American weddings, but I imagine cash is always a good fallback. 100 EU? Something more tangible? TIA!

    • Anonymous :

      An American Flag, Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan DVDs.

      • Perhaps also some freedom fries?

        • Anonymous :

          Wouldn’t it be great if you could nosh on some fries during the ceremony…that’d be a wedding I’d gladly cross the Atlantic and storm the beach for…

    • Anonymous :

      Champagne. Or something really lovely and delicious from your area.

    • I’m going to say that a gift will mean so much more than cash! I look at our gifts and feel so thankful for our sweet friends. A few favorites – a plate w our wedding date and names from Etsy, wine glasses with “His” and “Hers”, and monogrammed towels (even though I kept my last name I love the thought). And please send a card. It will mean a lot to share your love for them.
      Have fun!

    • Anonymous :

      Seems like traveling that far and at such expense is a nice gift?

      • Anonymous :

        It is, but I think you should still get a token physical gift if you can afford it. I think something cute from Etsy is a good suggestion or champagne/wine is always a good fallback.

    • Thank you!

  7. Anonymous :

    Tipping question re cleaning service. I recently signed up for a new cleaning service; it’s quite a bit more expensive than my last service and a bit of a stretch for my budget but I just have to make it work. I was happy with the first clean so they’ve assigned that same person to come out to my house. Do I need to tip this person?

    With the last service, I didn’t tip because I never knew who was coming or how many people would come. When I had an individual, I didn’t tip because she owned the business so she sets her rates and 100% of the money is going to her. But now that this service has assigned one person, is this more like a hotel where I need to tip every time she comes? I’ll tip her at the holidays just like I have with all the other services.

    • Other people may do this different, but I tip every single time. The service I use has several people they will send, so sometimes it’s a person I’ve seen before and sometimes not, but I always give them a ~20% cash tip.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Can you ask the service what typically happens/what employees prefer?

    • Tip at the holidays. Just make sure you give it directly to your cleaner and not to the service.

    • Yes you need to tip every time plus extra at the end of the year.

  8. Help!! Need advice dealing with a particularly annoying coworker.

    This woman is about 2 years older and levelled similarly in the organization but likes to behave like she is my supervisor or, at the very least an assigned mentor.
    She insists on providing unsolicited guidance in my work while continuously whining about how busy she is and how she hasn’t had time to review(the latest document was shared by an exec as “hey team, anon led the effort on this thing and it worked great! Thanks everyone that helped and next steps are ABC”)

    This, plus other diva-esque behaviors such as
    0. Refusing to sit in chairs (poufs, bean bags and other casual seating is preferred)
    1.taking work calls in the middle of an open plan office while perfectly good phone booths exist outside and are routinely used by everyone else
    2.making claims such as “at my level, in here to contribute not learn”
    3.talking about their amazing attention to detail that was honed in a consulting job (all while typing with more errors and less coherence than a 10 year old)
    4.being a sloth with a disgusting desk full of food and scrap paper

    Are driving me up the wall…

    Ignoring and avoiding her aren’t options because we are a small team and she sits at the desk next to mine.

    • I would be very tempted to explode one of the bean bags in her workspace. How does anyone do any meaningful work (I’m sorry, *contribute*) in a bean bag.

      • What exactly about a bean bag precludes meaningful work?

        I’m several inches too short for any of the seating in my office. I have definitely taken breaks from my desk (with its booster seat and foot stool accommodations) to go type on my laptop in a bean bag, and I’ve gotten plenty of work done.

        You sound like the sort of British colonist who docks a dog’s tail for the sole reason of encouraging him to “sit up straight” like a gentleman. If the workplace were too formal for bean bags, there wouldn’t be any bean bags there.

    • She sounds annoying and self-centered, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to change much of her behavior and you should instead focus on managing your own reaction to it. Make sure your higher-ups are giving you credit for the work you do, and otherwise just stop letting this person get under your skin. Fixating on things like whether she prefers chairs or poufs is not a good use of your mental energy.

      It might be worth exploring if you can change your desk location. If not, give friendly, non-confrontational feedback about the stuff that is actually impacting your work (“Hey, can you take your call in the phone booth? I really need to focus on this document.”), and stop worrying about things that are just annoying (preferences, self-aggrandizing comments, etc). If that doesn’t work and you can’t officially move your desk, maybe you can find somewhere else to sit and work for a few hours when you’ve reached the “b*tch eating crackers” level of irritation with her. Good luck!

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