Feeling Sexy in Spring: Must Have Shoes for the Modern Middle Aged Woman

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waiting outside in spring - modern woman

Spring has sprung! Though it’s not yet time for open-toed sandals, it is time to shed winter boots for those better suited for spring (I love my tall and ankle length Hunters in the slush!), and even better, beautiful spring leather boots and shoes. A few weeks ago, I was excited to receive a new pair of ankle boots (in a fabulous neutral Dove Grey colour) from Poppy Barley (PB), and was even more excited to wear them for a spring photoshoot.

This week I followed up with PB’s co-founder Kendall Barber. We chatted about growth as a socially-conscious Canadian company, what’s trending for spring, and (what I was most excited to learn!)… Poppy Barley’s first ever pop-up shop in Winnipeg on April 6-7 !

As a modern middle-aged woman, I need to be conscious of the footwear I choose. While I may not wear four-inch heels as often as I use to (who else kicks off uncomfortable heels in the car!?), I do need to choose shoes and boots with quality materials, that not only last through the seasons but most importantly, can flex with and support my feet throughout the day. This is how I came to know and love Poppy Barley.

Not only does this brand offer style, but it also offers Canadian-designed goods, high-quality products, and a strong culture of socially-conscious business operations, that takes care of its people from start to finish.

Poppy Barley makes luxury leather shoes and accessories for kick ass women and men who don’t have time for sore feet. Go Behind the Label for more.


What’s new with Poppy Barley since we first spoke (Walk a Mile in These Shoes)?

  • We introduced our best-selling, fashion-editor loving Shoulder Satchel handbag,
  • We became a Canadian Arts and Fashion Award finalist for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Accessories, and
  • For the second year in a row, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled his budget in a pair of Poppy Barley shoes.

On a life-level, we’re having a baby explosion… with four new babies set to arrive by the end of March!

What’s trending in spring footwear?

Versatility and comfort are driving footwear development across the marketplace. In the past, comfort and cool have been mutually exclusive, but as lifestyles become fast-paced and digitally driven, consumers want products that are functional, versatile, comfortable, and built to last. Nostalgic styles like loafers, mary janes, and mules are updated through design details and materials – all underpinned by comfort and trans-seasonal appeal. With a shift towards femininity, pointy-toes are on the rise, as well as ballet-inspired designs with ankle interest being key. Comfort is addressed through chunkier and lower heels, as well as slide and pull on constructions.

For boots, the “sock boot” look is on the rise, as well as lace up ankle boots. Chelsea boot styles remain popular but are updated through materials and heel styles. For shoes, slingback mary janes and clog mules continue to trend

How early can you wear an open toe shoe, or is it more about closed toe and open heel shoes in the spring? 

Versatile products are more appealing as the growth of global travel increases, and as unpredictable weather patterns happen, so it’s important for our footwear collections to be more “seasonless” through having a variety of boots, flats, and sandals. We want our customers to have easy transitions from Winter to Spring and vice versa. We keep our best selling ankle boot and flat styles updated in Spring through the use of new colorways and materials, as well as introduce new flat and sandal styles which makes for the perfect balanced collection.

We typically launch a true open toe sandal for Summer, beginning of May, because as we all know it can still be snowing until April! For Spring we typically launch open heels (mules, slingbacks) since these are more realistic to wear in the Canadian Spring months!

Which shoe or boot is a must-have in the modern professional woman’s spring wardrobe?

  • Boots: A classic block heel ankle boot. A mid-height block heel (2-2.5” heel)  provides more support but is stylish enough to go with any outfit. Luckily, there’s a plethora of styles and materials being done on block heels this season.
  • Shoes: A slingback mary jane or a multi-strap ballet. With cropped silhouettes still at play for Spring, ankle interest has become really important. These are perfect examples of dressier daytime shoes that transition from day to night seamlessly.

Your thoughts on white making a come-back?

Not going to lie, this scares me! I love white for accessories, but not so much for footwear. With talk of practicality in footwear, white seems counterintuitive. They look great on the runway but are a little unrealistic for walking down streets. I prefer oyster white or a grey undertone instead. The best neutral is a mid-tone grey: it’s the “new black” and is becoming a staple that we will continue to see through 2019. You can wear it with just about anything, and it’s the perfect transitional color from Autumn to Spring and vice versa.

What is trending in spring handbags, and how do you best pair with shoes?

Same as shoes: versatility!

  • Our busy lifestyles call for versatility and practicality: we want multi-purpose bags.
  • We also want the option to carry bags across our body, on our backs, over the shoulder, or even with straps removed (as a clutch).
  • With a large focus on femininity and individuality, classic shapes are updated through bold materials and details.
  • Smart shoulder bags, structured top handle bags, wide opening totes, and everyone’s favorite- the waistpack, are the top bags for the season.

My advice for matching a bag with your shoes: do whatever you want – express your individuality, there are no more rules in the fashion industry. Pair a bold colored bag with your neutral colored shoe or pair a bold colored bag with a bold colored shoe!

What’s the best way to care for boots and shoes in a slushy season?

To keep leather footwear looking great all year long, we recommend spraying with a protectant, and treating with a conditioner and polish to refresh the look of the leather and keep it moisturized. Leather by nature is not a waterproof material, so we never recommend customers to wear leather shoes and boots in extremely wet or snowy weather, however a bit of moisture is okay as long as you wipe the shoes after to prevent salt stains from setting in.

You are coming to Winnipeg early April for a pop-up.  Why did you choose Winnipeg?

Our main objective was to expand into new markets. Because we’ve never been in Winnipeg (but have a large customer base there) it seemed like a natural next step. We’re looking forward to the pop-up, as it will allow us to connect with customers who have solely ordered online in the past, and make new connections with people and businesses in the city.


As middle-aged women, the vitality and longevity of our health is of utmost importance. Our feet are the only ones we get in this life, and they must be taken care of! Our posture depends on it.

Think about investing in a new pair of spring shoes. You will not regret the comfort and quality gained in a good pair, and when you don Poppy Barley’s work, you certainly won’t regret the style and compliments either. Whether you choose a versatile neutral hue, or a pop of colour to spice up a spring dress, you can’t go wrong with style, shopping local, and supporting socially-conscious companies. Just add a fresh pedicure with spring toe polish, and you’re set!

Why? Because we can take care of our feet, maintain style, and support other women all at once. And…because we can.

modern middle aged woman

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Photos: Casey Nolin Photography, @Jillian Schecher & @Chris Onciul

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