In the Market Report: “Cap” It Off…

Once upon a time, ‘ladies’ were expected to wear pale shoes in the warm weather months. But as everyone knows, pale shoes dirty very quickly, especially if you live in New York. Try getting on a crowded subway with white shoes!

Victoria Beckham anchors her chic look
with high  heeled cap toe pumps

As the legend goes, while playing golf with her lover, The Duke of Westminster, Coco Chanel noticed that his shoes featured a black toe, which kept the dirt off. (She was always fixated on shoes, having once said, “A woman with good shoes is never ugly”). Hence, in 1957, she was inspired to create the iconic and timeless cap toe sling back pump in beige and black. It was not only practical, supremely chic and good looking, but it had the added plus: the optical illusion of making the leg longer and the foot smaller. And because it went with everything, it was perfect from day into evening (what looks better with a little black dress?). Mademoiselle Chanel hailed it as the only shoe a well-dressed woman would ever need.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2015

While Karl Lagerfeld, who has been creative director for the house since 1983, has re-imagined his own versions of the cap toe pump (sometimes really camping them up as he is known to do), he has never shown it in it’s stripped down, classic version. Until this season that is. His Fall/Winter 2015 ‘French Collection’, may have been filled with a dizzying number of elements that symbolize the “new bourgeois” (tweeds, pearls, quilting, chain strap bags, etc.), but it was accessorized with only one shoe: the beige and black cap toe sling back pump on a low blocked heel — the designer noted how easily and comfortably the models strode on the low blocked hee).

Chanel cap toe sling back with pearl on heel

THE shoe is guaranteed to set you back at least $850 or more, though you will be able to rationalize the price as they are completely ageless, season less, and timeless, and as Coco Chanel once famously said, “The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive.” And while they won’t be available for several months, there are various incarnations that are available right now. They won’t be exactly the same, of course, (though I just found a Chanel sling back cap toe pump with a pearl on the inside of the heel, $625, on, but they all have the key elements that make the original so chic and practical (as they are beige in color and feature a black cap toe). If it’s a pump on a blocked heel you’re after, check out Attilo Guisti Leombruni’s cream and black cap toe stretch pump on a 2 ½ inch block heel, $350 at

Tabitha Simmons Sebille two tone suede and linen
espadrilles in natural and black

And what could be more perfect heading into the Spring and Summer, than an espadrille? Three noteworthy choices: Tabatha Simmons’ Sebille ankle strap espadrille, in natural and black two tone suede and linen, $375; Tory Burch’s natural and black two tone canvas espadrilles, $135 (both available; Loeffler Randall’s perforated leather Mara espadrille, $195, at

Lanvin two tone leather ballet flats

Then there are ballet flats which are always a classic. Lanvin’s two tone leather ballet flats in beige and black, $545 are available at; Sam Edelman’s Bev cap toe ballet flats, $130, are available at, as are Yosi Samra’s nude and black Samantha ballerina that fold up into its own pouch, $77. And Banana Republic’s Aida ballet flat in ivory blush and black is reduced from $79 to $39.50, at

French Sole classic beige & black patent ballerina flat

Finally, let’s not forget the original French Sole. Founded in 1989 in London, by Jane Winkworth (the “Queen of Ballet Flats”), they are considered to be the “leading purveyor of the most beautiful classic ballet flats and luxurious, fashionable flat footwear”, and naturally, included in their inventory, is the beige leather ballet flat punctuated with a black patent cap toe, 90 GBP ($132.84), at

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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