As The Height of Style has grown over the years, I’ve aimed for editorial neutrality—preferring to keep politics out of the picture. But today, ignoring what is happening on a national political stage is impossible, at least for me. Even my seemingly insulated love of fashion has been affected. I can’t feign neutrality. Not today, and not tomorrow.
To keep my sense of fight alive and my righteousness coursing through these dark times, I’ve recently focused on the power of choice. Choice matters—whether it’s choosing to fight for human rights, choosing action over complacency, or choosing empathy over derision. Big choices are important, but small choices are just as important. For me, small choices look like donating a bit more to organizations I care about. Carrying reusable bags and a water bottle with me to save paper and plastic. Being conscious about what I buy and wear.
Being conscious about what I buy and wear.
This choice—though small–is a hard shift: an uphill battle against availability and my own scarcity mentality. But “hard” is no longer excuse enough for me. Voting with my wallet feels right—to increasingly support small business owners who engage in sustainable/ethical production, offer good jobs, take care of their vendors, and create designs made to last.
Monika Kusinska Paez’s Autograf New York is one such company that I support wholeheartedly. Monika, an experienced footwear designer, founded Autograf in 2014 to offer hard-to-fit women (sizes 6-14 U.S.) uniquely-designed footwear. She keeps her production limited and her offerings edited so each shoe she designs can be handcrafted by her Italian/Spanish artisan partners, with exacting attention to detail. The benefit of careful fabrication is that Autograf shoes truly last—season after season, through all manners of urban wear and tear (Fact: my Autograf ankle boots from 2014 are still in rotation. Can’t say that for any other boot I’ve worn frequently).
If responsible production and unmatched quality weren’t enough, I can say with confidence that no other designer does the ankle boot better than Monika. Case in point is the Mara—a limited edition F/W 2016-2017 style that has a bit of Ann Demeulemeester’s gothic refinement, a bit of Acne’s urban minimalism, but is nonetheless completely singular. The silky charcoal suede, smooth stretch panels, and flattering almond toe find their home atop a cushy 2” Vibram lug sole (the same make you’ll find on many premium hiking boots). The result is visually beautiful (masculine meets feminine), and surprisingly, light enough to walk miles in. Given the brand’s quality (comparable to any high-end/luxury designer) and longevity (3 years, heavy use, before sole refinishing) the price point for the Mara is particularly reasonable—on sale for $276.
So whether you’re walking to the job you love, strolling with the people you love, or marching for what you love, remember that the shoes that will get you around are your statement of choice—and with brands like Autograf New York, you truly don’t have to compromise.
Right now, Autograf’s winter sale is on. All shoes are limited edition, so be sure to purchase your favorites before they sell out for good!