Follow Pearl on her enviable style journey to achieve the perfect wardrobe; we love her fun sense of style and the way she puts together an outfit. It's the perfect girl's companion to shopping. Company Magazine.
Like most people I tend to have to ‘versions’ of my wardrobe, the going out fancy and they staying at home scruffy. Because of my dogs I go for comfort when I’m at home, slouchy sweaters, plaid shirts, leggings and Ugg boots. Up North we are starting to feel the chill in the air during the evenings signaling autumn will be here soon, all the new season stock is starting to arrive in the shops too. I won’t go on about how ridiculous the retail fashion cycle is but as I am sure you know finding winter clothes when you actually need them is never easy, you always need to be one step ahead. For me there are always two winter essentials, new boots and a new coat. Last years Cardi UGG Australia boots took a bit of a hammering so this year I really wanted something more sturdy, but still soft and flexible enough to be comfortable wearing around the house. I chose these pale grey Baily Button Triplet from UGG Australia which will go well with my winter staple colours of black and grey. In my mind I look like I just stomped off a Rick Owens runway, in reality I look like I forgot to get dressed, but hey at least I will be warm as I sit hidden under an oversized hoodie.
As for my respectable-adult-leaving-the-house-look you all know I have to be drooling over the new season Vivienne Westwood. I haven’t seen much of the new collections in store yet but this Gold Label runway look basically sums up how I want my AW13 to be, torn silk skirts, oversized knit sweaters, clompy boots and capes. For the office the smart new Harris coat in baby pink is calling to me, as is this incredible printed pencil skirt. I love a good statement necklace and this chunky collar with semi-precious stones is divine. My current tartan everyday bag is starting to look a bit abused so I also have my eye on a nice roomy new one, this embossed tartan tote is rather lust worthy.
Whilst I’ve been emptying my bedroom I had to confront the pile of old boots lurking at the bottom of my wardrobe. I can’t remember the last time most of these saw the light of day but you never know when things will come back into fashion! I haven’t quite decided what to do with these old pairs, I can’t even bring myself to wear the two fur trim ones as I am so against wearing fur – yet they were given to me and I love the design, so I feel bad that they would go to waste too. Sigh, emotional turmoil. The cowboy boots brought me many summers of boho as did the black and grey leather ones in the winter, its nice to have reminders of those memories when I don’t have any photos of the outfits. It’s funny as I’ve always loved cowboy boots, even if they aren’t as on-trend these days. I have fallen for these Johnny boots by Sendra, wow they are incredible! The over-the-knee pair I have a feeling I might get back into wearing, I think they are always going to be a bit of a classic. This pair is by Bronx who don’t do this exact style any more but the Niatu is a very similar design in a lower height. Bronx were my favourite shoe brand for years and always remind me of my uni days. I will always have a soft spot for my orange suede ‘Stevie Nicks’ boots. They made me feel very 70s, Cow Vintage always has some good original boots in if you are looking for some this winter.┬á I took these photos on the frame for the new separating wall to my walk-in, it was that perfect time of day where shadows are cast dramatically. I figured it would be nice to have some great shots of my old boots, that way if I do decide to part with them I can still enjoy them every once in a while.
I know I’m meant to be resting up but I got bored so thought I would have a little browse online to see what new season goodies I could lust after – you know I have to start with shoes. When I laid eyes on these I just had to share them with you, aren’t they absolutely gorgeous! Two key trends this season are Dark Florals think Alexander McQueen’s McQ and Cowgirl thanks to Isabel Marant, these combine the two wonderfully. I was meant to be looking for a new pair of winter boots, something practical like warm sheep skin boots or sturdy biker boots but I am so tempted with these. They remind me of my super high heeled Christopher Kane embroidered boots, but of course I could wear these everyday. Perfect with dresses and thick ribbed tights There is a similar version in black by Elva which are really nice too.
I always get asked loads of questions about my Vivienne Westwood Sack boots. The style isn’t as well know as the Pirate boot but it stretches right back to the start of Westwood history too. First seen as part of the Nostalgia of Mud collection (AW 1982/83) on the feet of the ‘Buffalo girls’ worn with oversized skirts and lots of layered knits. Admittedly they sure look unusual and yes they do attract some funny looks. But with their low heel and padded insole they are actually really comfy and easy to wear. As I am short I tend to wear them with more fitted clothes such as a short skirt or shorts with tights, as I feel I need a higher heel to pull off baggy clothes. ┬á However I adore the Buffalo girl look and think they look amazing with a full skirt and loose trousers. They are such fun shoes as you can tied them so many ways, which is the most common question I get asked by fellow Westwood fans… how do you tie these boots? Basically you can tie them any way you want!┬á The original boots were wore pulled up, with the lace tied around the ankle, but you can fold them down, wrap the lace under the sole or around the heel. It is just something you need to sit any play around with. Above I have tied them in some of the easiest ways. Below is Vivienne wearing her own personal pair, she favours them tied around the heel.
Vivienne Westwood wearing her own pair of Sack Boots to meet Cherie Blair (image via Rex)
Vivienne Westwood & Malcome McLaren ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ collection
(Wearing: Vivienne Westwood SEX jumper now in its new home with my friend Dai and ladies pirate boots; Ann Demeulemeester jacket, Fendi bag and Vivienne Westwood trousers)
In 1981 something rather incredible happened, the Vivienne Westwood pirate boot was born! Westwood designed the boots as part of her Pirates collection see below.
1981 Pirate Collection, 1981 design boots now available at Worlds End, London
Though this is not the reason why you can buy pirate boots today, as they soon went out of production. In fact you can thank Kate Moss for the pair of modern pirate boots you are wearing today. Kate stepped out in a vintage pair from Rellik in 1999 and due to the phenomena know as the ‘Moss’ effect, caused such a high demand for them Rellik was receiving 50 enquiries a week. Hence the boots went back into production and are now one of the most highly sought after fashion classics.
Kate Moss in her beloved vintage pirate boots
Today the boots are a classic piece in the Westwood collections, available constantly regardless of season, however if they don’t have a pair available in your size there is a 6-8 week wait whilst a pair is hand made for you in England.
The colours available in leather are black, yellow, brown and brick red and grey available in suede they are also specially produced in the Squiggle print (red on white, navy on brown, brown on tan), which you can order at Worlds End. These are the Gold label boots. As you can see in the below photos the boots are incredibly versatile, hence their popularity.
Sienna Miller pairs hers with a skirt, whilst Bianca Brandolini (I originally thought this was Margherita Missonni, thanks Ginta for correcting me but don’t they look alike) opts for jeans
There are also Accessories label boots produced seasonally which vary in colours and materials, these boots are only produced for one season at a time. They have been made in all black, black with tan straps, beige, sheepskin lined and some even in printed fabric such as floral.
The main difference between the two styles is that the Gold label boots are better for wearing slouched down, like Sienna and Bianca, whilst the Accessories label are stiffer and cut higher so best for wearing pulled up like Miley below.
The boots are sometimes made available in a heeled version, with a low Cuban heel as seen on Kiera and with a slim stiletto heel.
Miley Cyrus and Kiera Knightly
Floral version from S/S11
Cuban heeled and stiletto heel, images from eBay
┬áI am sure you are aware these boots don’t come cheap at ┬ú370 (price correct as of May 2013), worth every penny as they are handmade and beautiful quality, but still very expensive. I know many people have tried seeking out a pair on eBay, which is a great option but unfortunately there are many counterfeit / fake pairs. By this I do not mean boots in a similar style such as ones from Topshop or Office for example, but one which are branded Vivienne Westwood but were not in fact produced by the brand. Counterfeit goods are not only illegal but are also very badly made and in some cases dangerous. My guides on spotting fake Chanel and Louis Vuitton have been very popular and I know have helped a lot of people, so after a few emails on pirate boots I decided to write this one.
I should also mention that fakes are not just sold on eBay, but also on websites which look like the real deal. The only websites licensed to sell the Gold Label pirate boots in the UK is http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/ (.com if you are international), the Accessories boots are available on other designer websites which stock Anglomania clothing such as net-a-porter but as the boots are seasonal the stockist can change. The best advice I can give is only use a website you are familiar with, that has a clear ‘about us’ policy and holds a secure server. Also if the price is too good to be true, it usually is!
Gold Label Pirate Boots
These are my new Gold Label Vivienne Westwood pirate boots, as you can see they are very soft suede this is why they slouch down so easily. Note the very, very pale colour of the straps. This is how all untreated leather should look, over time it will darken to a honey / tan colour as the natural leather oxidises. This is the same thing which occurs on Louis Vuitton bags. All the images of the genuine boots are my own.
The Gold Label boots come in a cream box with gold embossed lettering.
Inside you will receive ONE soft felt cloth dust bag, with a gold string and gold lettering. If there is tissue paper in the box it will be pale pink with gold orbs.
The toe piece (vamp) on the Gold label is wider than on the Accessories label.
The boots slouch as they do not have a supportive strip on the back of the boot – unlike the Accessories label ones which we will see later. The first strap and the fourth strap will go right around the boot, whilst the second and third strap go half way, the fifth strap goes around the foot.
The heel is made from a wooden piece with 3 separate layers, topped with a piece of rubber, the rubber piece goes right across the heel – unlike the Accessories boots, see later. I should also note that once the rubber section gets worn down you should have the boots re-heeled, once you get to the wooden section the heel will be irreparable.
The buckles are silver, also note the very tiny and neat stitching.
As the straps are natural leather they will be nubuck (suede) on the reverse.
Inside the boots are padded on the sole and embossed in gold writing.
The sole of the boot will also be embossed in gold, here you can also see the whole rubber heel. The square mark is where the materials sticker was removed, and the little circle the size sticker. These stickers are transparent plastic with gold writing, the square sticker will have three shoe symbols representing the outer, inner and sole then each has the leather mark next to it to show that the entire boot is made from leather.┬á The little round size sticker will have the size in UK sizes e.g 4, 5, 6 and not European sizes e.g 37, 38, 39. The soles of the boots are also leather, it has a thin layer with a slight sheen to it which will wear off after the first wear. When the sole gets very worn and starts to look thin it should be covered with a rubber sole to protect it. Rubber soles can also be added prior to wear to make them wearable in the rain and also prevent the leather sole wearing, it also gives the sole grip. I have the rubber soles added on new shoes if they need grip, otherwise I wait until they need reheeling and get them reheeled and resoled at the same time.
Timpsons does a free reheel if you pay for the sole. I find Timpsons are great for all reheeling except for the Vivienne Westwood Gold Label low heeled shoes, those I take to Jones the Bootmaker as they make sure the new heel is correctly balanced. Unbalancing occurs when the new heel tip is thicker, and thus higher, than the old one and the VW shoes have a much thinner tip that the standard heel tips Timpsons use. Whilst we are onto care tips Office brand suede spray is the best brand I have found, as it sprays dry so you don’t get any spotting which can happen with some sprays.
Accessories Label Pirate Boots
Now we can look at the Accessories Label pirate boots. Here is the box, as you can see it is twice the size of the Gold label boots! It will be in coated silver card with gold lettering saying ‘Vivienne Westwood Accessories’.
Here are the black with tan straps and the all black versions (these aren’t mine, wish they were). The toe is rounder and narrower, they are taller and they have a leather strip along the back. The straps are originally slightly darker than the Gold label boots, but these here have also naturally darkened – you can get them to darken faster if you massage them with clear leather beeswax polish or teabags for a darker stain.
The back strip will be embossed ‘Vivienne Westwood’
The buckles are silver and again note the neat stitching.
The soles are leather but will have a slight sheen from the coating, this will wear off after first wear. The heel is different as it only has a section which is rubber, it will be embossed with ‘Vivienne Westwood’, ‘Made in Italy’, the size in European sizes and the orb logo.
How to spot FAKE Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots, by comparison
Fake box with black writing
This fake dust bag is black with gold writing, there is also a second white dust bag both made from rough, thin materials which would not be appropriate to store natural leather.
As you can see the boots themselves are in the correct shape with pretty correct looking straps, but the ‘leather’ looks very tough and is likely not real leather. The straps are clumsily sewn onto the boot and are backed with a cotton-like fabric, not natural nubuck. The boots look cheaply made and are not even close to the high quality of the genuine boots. These will also have plastic soles. These images were taken from eBay.
Spotting Fake Bondage Boots
Whilst not pirate boots I though it wise to also show this pair of FAKE Bondage boots ABOVE, this pair of boots I found on eBay.
The GENUINEBondage boots are BELOW.
The Bondage boots come in either black, yellow, red or cream canvas uppers. The rest of the boot is leather, with tan leather trim, natural leather straps and yellow laces. The most noticeable difference from the fake is that they have a chunky curved heel, and the toe will have the ‘animal feet’ imprints – the fake is totally square. These images were liberated from eBay.
You can also read another of my posts on pirate boots which has lots of images HERE
Just let me know if there is anything else you want to know,
hope this was helpful,
Watch my companion video to the guide on Youtube
You can now download my FREE eBook ‘A Guide to Spotting Counterfeits: including Chanel 2.55, Louis Vuitton scarves and Vivienne Westwood Pirate & clothes’ HERE
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