The splurge ... $900 shoes
Lauren Sutton knew exactly what her heart desired. Hint number one: She wakes up each morning and decides which shoe to wear first, then plans her outfit accordingly. Hint number two: Her two-pound poodle is named Manolo.
She set a goal upon graduation from University of Florida, with her mother as a witness. Once she made it as a working girl, Lauren wanted the real thing, a piece of foot art by Manolo Blahnik. Three and a half years later, she walked into Neiman Marcus holding ten bills, each stamped with 100.
The store was holding for her the Koyu, a black beauty from the Runway Collection. She knew the specs by heart: Four and one-quarter inch heels. Stiletto, of course. Racy rivets. A silver buckle to cinch the ankle strap. The overall effect, in Lauren's words: "Sex on a stick."
Two months of research went into this purchase. Lauren picked black, not a wild color, for versatility. She will never, ever buy another pair. She set a sales goal at her job, made it and paid cash, refusing to open a Neiman credit card or to splurge on Amex.
"This is my big screen TV," Lauren explained to her husband.
Her Manolo's came with a warranty and a duster bag. She is the only woman in Tampa to possess the Koyu in size 6.5. She even got a deal. Lauren found the shoe priced at $865 on the Neiman's website, but was quoted $905 at the store. She held firm until a representative honored the Internet price.
"I wanted them, and I worked hard for them and I love them," she said. "And I loved walking out of Neiman Marcus with my little bag."
On her way home, she was tempted by a pair of Stuart Weitzman booties at Nordstrom, which is where Lauren buys most of her shoes in the $80 to $130 range. She forced herself to walk away. There's no way her husband would understand buying two pairs of shoes. Especially when one would pay half the month's mortgage.
~ Deal Diva Letitia
(Photos: St. Petersburg Times advertising representative Lauren Sutton shows off her Manolo's. Shot by Times staff photographer Carrie Pratt.)