STYLE POLICE: Sole mates

The sun is shining and those knee-high boots that have been your best friends all winter will just have to go, warns JAMES SHERWOOD

Spring has sprung but what's this? Crisp sunlight is telling you to get in season but your wardrobe isn't prepared. When the spring ambushes you like an ex-boyfriend who kept the spare key, you're faced with three pairs of old trainers and a trusted pair of knee-high boots that you've been wearing with everything.

It's a universal truth that you find the ultimate spring shoe and wear it down until there's nothing left between foot and pavement. You can tell spring has really started when shoe shop profits rise higher than Edith Cresson's Swiss bank account. The equation is simple: the daffodils are in bloom so you must buy shoes.

Style Police had an intense conference about the spring shoe with Genny - not the Italian label but Genny Holdsworth, a fellow student of the Style Police Training Academy. Genny is desperate for those mesh slipper flatties Dolce & Gabbana embroidered with floral chinoiserie. Style Police was bewitched by Sonia Rykiel's pretty pink rhinestone-encrusted slippers. We both know Paul Smith's been selling embroidered mesh slippers for two seasons already, so full marks to the man. But the dominatrix of the sexy summer shoe is Italian Anna Molinari with her wonderful two- tone, pink, sequined, peep-toe cha-cha heels.

Accessories are getting excited about colour and decoration this season. If it ain't beaded, coloured or hand-embroidered, the shoe is going to be wallflower-dull. There are just two exceptions: Gucci's barely-there toe-hold thong sandal which is practically invisible or Donna Karan's flat fabric ballet pump which is pretty in a pure and simple way.

How to wear it

Style Police may be dazzled by the glitter and girlieness of spring shoes but not Time Out's shopping editor Lorna V. "I'm more inclined to ease myself slowly into the spring shoe," she says. "It's a leap of faith between the thick winter boot and beaded slippers. Typically, I've gone for an interim shape and bought both the Miu Miu originals and the rip-offs at Office which bridge the gap between winter and spring. It's a Mary Jane shape with a slight wedgie heel.

"If you are a city babe, you have to have shoes built for speed. You have to run for that taxi, or from one end of the high street to the other. Flat-to-the-floor shoes aren't going to do it for me. I'm going to keep a pair of pretty shoes in my desk for appointments but wear the wedgie heels when I know I've got to dash."

Where to buy it

We happen to agree with Lorna V that slippers are for those Geisha moments in shooshy restaurants and at chic house parties. But you're not getting away from floral and cute-as-buttons that easily. Yes, you need urban heels. No, you can't retire the tights quite yet and slip into Gucci's thong summer sandal. So here are the solutions.

Kitten heels were last summer's love affair. Well, it's Sandy in Grease all over again because Ravel has brought kitten heels back - but this time as a Liberty floral print strappy sandal in hues of blue or rosy pink (pounds 30). Go wild and buy the bag as well (pounds 18) if, like Style Police, you adore co-ordinating floral accessories to accent the spring flower- print feeling.

We also expect to see you in Office imminently. You're going to want pale gold leather strappy kitten-heeled sandals (pounds 34.99), blue metallic mini-wedge sandals (pounds 54.99) or a fabulous pair of white leather Japanese sandals (pounds 54.99 by Jean-Michel Cazabat and bizarrely code-named Wedge Arabian Mules).

If you're really sold on those mesh slippers - and we could lay odds that Lorna V will be wearing the little darlings any time soon - then Russell & Bromley have got them just right in black mesh with jet beaded flower detail (pounds 59.99). Oh, go on. You know you want to.

ADDRESS BOOK

Blumarine at Anna Molinari: 0171 493 4872.

Dolce & Gabbana: 0171 235 0335.

Office: 0181 838 4447.

Ravel: 01458 444712.

Russell & Bromley: 0171 629 6903.

Sonia Rykiel: 0171 836 2855.

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