Almost every time I write about Vivienne Westwood/Melissa Lady Dragon shoes (which I do rather a lot, as you may have noticed), the same set of questions seem to come up in the comments section, so I figured I’d put together a quick FAQ for those of you either considering buying a pair of these shoes, or just thinking “The hell? Plastic shoes?”
Before I get started, I should probably stress that I’m answering these questions from my own point of view only: I don’t claim to be an expert on Vivienne Westwood or Melissa, and I can really only speak about the Vivienne Westwood/Melissa Lady Dragon shoes, as those are the ones I own. I currently have five pairs of these: four pairs of the Lady Dragon Heart shoes, and one pair of the Lady Dragon Cherries shoes. Here are some of the questions I’m asked about them:
Q. How on earth do you balance on a rubber heel? Doesn’t it wobble around all the time?
A: Nope! The heel isn’t actually made of rubber: it’s a regular heel, made in the same way as any other stiletto, but with a plastic coating. So it won’t buckle under you, I promise!
Q: Eew, plastic shoes! Don’t they make your feet sweat?
A: I certainly haven’t found that to be the case. The Lady Dragon shoes I have are a peep-toed, slingback style, which means that most of the foot is exposed, anyway, so they don’t sweat. I can’t speak for the closed-toe styles made by Vivienne Westwood/Melissa, however – I would suspect that as they’re enclosing the entire foot in plastic, they may indeed be more likely to cause this problem (I’d be interested to hear more about this from someone who owns one of these styles), but you should be pretty safe with the slingbacks: they’re really no different from any other shoe in that particular shape – or at least, that’s been my experience, anyway.
Q: Doesn’t the plastic chafe against your skin?
A: The only place where I’ve found rubbing to be an issue is on the peep toe. It’s a slightly smaller peep toe than on most of my other shoes, and because it’s plastic, it doesn’t soften up, as leather does, so if I’ve been wearing the shoes for a while, or doing a lot of walking in them, it can start to rub a little. I haven’t had any issue with the slingback or vamp rubbing, though, and much of this will depend on the shape of your feet and how well the shoes fit.
Q: Are Vivienne Westwood/Melissa Lady Dragons true to size?
A: Up until the Winter 2011 collection was released, I always had to size down with these shoes, because I found my usual size too large. The size down was a perfect fit… up until Winter 2011, when I think the brand must have changed the sizing, because when I ordered a pair of shoes from that collection, the size down (i.e. my usual Lady Dragon size) was too small, and I had to return them and re-order in my regular size. I find the current sizing a little bit large, although not a full size large: I can wear them, but the strap has to be on the smallest hole. All of that said, I would always urge caution when taking sizing advice from someone on the Internet – or someone who doesn’t have exactly the same shape of feet as you, basically – because I know a couple of people who also own these shoes, and find them true to size. Size is a very personal thing, and, as I mentioned above, it depends not just on the number on the sole of your shoe, but on the shape of your feet, and on what you’re used to. So it’s always a good idea to try them on rather than just taking my word for it!
Q: Are Vivienne Westwood/Melissa Lady Dragons comfortable?
A. I always hesitate before answering this one, because “comfort” is such a subjective thing, and depends on lots of different factors: what one person finds totally comfortable, another person might find absolutely excruciating! It also very much depends on what you’re used to: for instance, I wear high heels frequently, so they’re fairly “comfortable” to me; however, someone who isn’t used to them might find them almost impossible to walk in. So I can’t tell you whether you’ll find these shoes comfortable: all I can do is tell you what they feel like to me, and for me I’d say yes, they’re reasonably comfortable: they have a low heel which is easy to walk on, but as I mentioned above, I do find the small peep toe will start to chafe and pinch after a while, so they’re not shoes I would wear if I was going out walking all day, say.