Saturday, September 03, 2005

Awesome Croc

Some of my favorite materials for bags and shoes have always been crocodile or alligator. However, they are prohibitively expensive due to the difficulty of working with reptile skins and their rarity. But in the past few years, techniques for stamping, printing, and embossing leather or even vinyl to closely resemble exotic skins have improved by leaps and bounds. Now, that black croc structured bag can be yours for under $100, if you don't mind that the skin came from a cow instead of a crocodile.

Nothing is more ladylike and polished than a croc bag, and they are perfect for every season. Carry black, chocolate brown, or rich deep jewel tones like teal and burgundy in the winter, and camel, ivory, or pale pink in the summer. Or just go for a bright lipstick red, magenta, or turquoise all year round. Croc looks great in every color.

Both of these great bags are by Isaac Mizrahi for Target, and cost under $30. Pretty good deal, isn't it? Here's a great tote and clutch, this time by Liz Claiborne (her bags are surprisingly nice for what can be a "soccer-mom" label at times).

Really, though, there are mock-croc bags available at all price points. When choosing one, look for a embossed design - the surface should feel bumpy but smooth under your fingertips. Also, make sure the design has some variation, because actual crocodile skin is not perfectly uniform. Finally, it should be a little glossy, and of course make sure the stitching is even and the construction is sturdy. Pick a color that goes well with most of your wardrobe - black and various shades of brown are obvious choices, but bright red, forest green, and dusty rose may work just as well, and they will add a punch of color to an otherwise neutral outfit.

Finally, consider crocodile shoes. A little more subtle and a lot more classy than patent leather, croc pumps are perfect for the office or a night out. Brightly colored croc sandals can add some interest to a little black dress, and croc loafers are a new twist on the preppy classic. Don't worry about your shoes and bag matching perfectly - you can wear leather shoes with a croc bag, and vice versa. Just make sure they are complementary colors and have similar hardware. Here are a few pairs of great croc shoes:

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