Confession: I study what my co-workers wear, and then commit their outfits to memory. That sounds way creepier than it is, but I think this is something we all do regardless of where we work or the people we work with. It's that quick once-over (in a non-mean-girl way) when you pass by them in the hall or greet them in the morning. It's an astute way of picking up on mood, establishing a connection, and noticing (and complimenting!) an item or new purchase. I mean, that's the whole reason we get dressed up for work, right? Well, that and social decorum.
Anyway, all of this came to a point when I stopped InStyle's Fashion Features Editor Stephanie Trong in her tracks one morning when I spotted her black suede block-heel sandals—a pair so chic, so simple, so on-trend that I would have remembered if she had worn them. I braced myself for their maker's name (most likely designer, most likely out of my budget), first immediately jumping to fashion favorites, like Celine or Prada, and then cool under-the-radar brands, like RAFA. I was wrong on all counts.
The sandals are by Steve Madden and they cost just under $80. Thanks to their friendly two-inch block heel and their super minimalist design, they're both insanely comfortable (not a single blister!) and versatile—they're the little black dress of sandals. Oh, and did we mention the $80 price tag? Stephanie had to repeat herself twice before that could sink in, and then I promptly ordered a pair for myself. #priorities.
Trust me when I say we don't publicly declare our love of anything unless we actually, truly love it (like this one magical dress). And these Steve Madden 'Irenee' sandals are fashion gold in terms of wearability and afffordability. Bonus: They come in more than 10 different colors and textures, perfect for any outfit or occasion. But if you're unsure of where to start, might I suggest, classic black. You can find the Irenee sandals for $79.95 at stevemadden.com, zappos.com, macys.com, and nordstrom.com.