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Meet the sneakers that celebs are going hopping mad for

If you like trainers and you like rabbits, you’re going to love this blog post. Minna Parikka decided at the age of 15 that she wanted to design shoes, and her playfulness didn’t leave her when she realised the dream and moved to the UK aged 19 to study footwear design. She’s now based back in her native Helsinki where she produces these super-cute bunny inspired trainers.

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Bunny Sneaks, 245€, minnaparikka.com

Who’d have thought that trainers with bunny ears would look so NOT weird? Because the ears take the place of the shoe’s tongue though, it works really well. Some of the shoes also come with a fluffy rabbit’s tale (below), and lovely as they are, as a woman approaching the age of 40, I prefer the plainer high tops (above).

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Tail Sneaks, 260€, minnaparikka.com

Minna is a savvy entrepreneur, too. She’s managed to get a whole host of celebs pictured wearing her bunny sneakers and now they’re the hottest thing in footwear. Because in our world of Instagram, what could be better advertising than getting Cara Delevingne or Ella Eyre pictured out and about looking awesome in a pair of your trainers?

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The bunny sneaks as well as a whole host of delightful leather shoes are all available on Minna’s website – and don’t be put off by those Euros – she ships to the UK and the rest of Europe for free.

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Bunny Sneaks, 270€ reduced to 190€, minnaparikka.com
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The EnBroguelopedia: tennis shoes

It’s Wimbledon time! And as such, my mind is on classic white tennis shoes. I don’t mean the high tech trainers that Andy Murray and co will be wearing for the next fortnight, but the traditional plimsoll-styles more akin to our other great British tennis hero, Fred Perry. So to celebrate, I thought I’d give you a couple of extracts from my book – En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels – on the very subject.

adidas Stan Smith

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In 1972, an American tennis player called Stanley Roger Smith won Wimbledon wearing a pair of adidas ‘Robert Haillet’ tennis shoes. Their namesake was a French tennis player, but unfortunately for him, he never won a grand slam and Stan Smith was a much catchier name; a detail not lost on adidas, who renamed the shoe in Smith’s honour after his success at the south London tournament.

It’s no wonder that this humble white shoe is the best-selling tennis shoe of all time, with over 40 million pairs sold. Its simple design not only looks really smart on court – particularly when paired with Wimbledon whites – but it effortlessly makes the leap from sport to fashion and street style. I think its success lies in the minimalist design; the adidas 3-Stripes are just air holes in three neat lines, and there is usually only one accent colour (which, in my book, should always be classic green), making them easy to integrate into any type of wardrobe. Hip hop sportswear? Tick. Pinstripe trouser suit? Tick. Pencil skirt and cashmere sweater? Triple tick. No wonder they’re favourites of everyone from David Bowie to Pharrell Williams.

Head to the adidas website to get a pair for yourself.

Superga sneakers

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These tennis shoes have been around for over 100 years; they were first made in Italy by Walter Martiny in 1911. Although they have been a favourite with Italians all that time, it’s only in recent years that they’ve enjoyed mass popularity around the world. As well as collaborations with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion line The Row, Brit designer Henry Holland and high fashion label Versace, it was a centennial UK campaign in 2011 with Alexa Chung that really brought these humble little sneakers into high fashion and the mainstream.

The most famous (and my favourite) style is the 2750 shoe, which was first produced in 1925, and hasn’t changed a jot since. It might have a less catchy name than its tennis shoe contemporary – the adidas Stan Smith – but I love its simplicity and that Italian chic really shines through. Although it looks great in bright colours and prints, you really can’t beat it in classic white, navy or red.

Head to the Superga website to get a pair for yourself.

You can buy my book at Waterstones, Amazon, Northern Cobbler, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and all good book stores, RRP £10.

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raffia Superga? Perfect for summer holidays

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of new posts. I’ve been busy writing my book for the past month but I’ve nearly finished! I’m so excited for you all to see it in October. Light at the end of the tunnel means I can start writing on here again, and as today sees the launch of an exciting collaboration, it seemed a good place to start.

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The pairing is between Italian tennis shoe specialist Superga and fashion blogger Gala Gonzalez, creator of AMLUL. Gonzalez is Spanish, and has gone back to her roots by using natural materials like raffia for her collection. The results are these lovely, rustic-looking trainers. I imagine you’re all already big fans of Superga – a brand you can trust for comfort and quality as its been making tennis shoes since way back in 1911.

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I’ll probably avoid the flatforms – lovely as they are, they’re a little too high for me – but the other styles are really cool. There’s something about raffia that’s particularly evocative of holidays, and I reckon these would make the perfect addition to your suitcase if you’re off to warmer climes in the next couple of months. You’ll need to take care of raffia though; try not to get caught out in the rain and, unlike with their canvas cousins, DEFINITELY don’t put these babies in the washing machine if they get a bit grubby.

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As you’d expect for a special collection, these are a little more pricey than your average pair of Superga (they range from £85 to £135), but you’re getting a real statement shoe for those extra pennies. Those muted shades will fit well into any wardrobe too. I’d wear with my khaki summer jumpsuit (it has short sleeves and legs) or how about with a pair of mustard culottes and a crisp white T-shirt? Ooo, that would be lovely! Now, where to get a pair of mustard culottes…

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You can shop the full Superga x Gala Gonzalez collection here.

Beach Athletics

WIN a pair of Beach Athletics flip flops!

Great news! Beach Athletics have donated a pair of flip flops for me to give away to one of you lovely lot. If you missed my last blog post, which was all about bathing shoes, Beach Athletics is a brand that does exactly what you would expect: it makes shoes for you to wear on the beach. In addition to the lovely sandals I featured last week, it has a brilliant range of flip flops too.

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As well as coming in LOADS of great colours (my personal favourites are the St Tropez in orange and the Corsica in blue and white) they all have a gel sole, making them more comfy that your average flip flop. They come in sizes 4-7 and you can see the full range here.

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Anyway, on to that competition. To be in with a chance of winning a pair simply tweet the following:

WIN @beachathletics flip flops with @enbrogue #EnBroguelovesBeachAthletics

You’ve got until midnight GMT on Sunday 14th June and you’ll need to have your prize delivered to the UK. I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!

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Bathing shoes: it’s about more than just jellies

So yesterday I wrote about jellies – which I love – but there are lots of other bathing shoes out there too. Some are made from the same rubber as jellies but are in new and exciting shapes; some are the traditional fisherman sandal style of an old school jelly, but not made from rubber. All are completely waterproof. And like jellies, all just as good to wear when you’re not bathing as when you are. But I took some to the beach anyway, seeing as I was near one, and tried them out for myself in the sea and on the sand.

Ancient Greek Sandals

Ancient Greek Sandals
Ikaria sandals, £70 by Ancient Greek Sandals at matchesfashion.com (BUY ME HERE!)

I’m a BIG fan of the traditional leather Ancient Greek Sandals – I have a couple of pairs in my wardrobe and they’ve done me proud for a good few summers now – but now the brand has launched its own version of the jelly shoe. I’m not going to lie, these look absolutely bonkers before you put them on, but once you’ve donned them and the wing hugs your ankle they look really, REALLY nice. Even my mum had to admit that they were incredibly flattering. They’re also really comfy and there’s no chance of them coming off in the sea because they’re attached with an ankle strap. These get a big thumbs up from me! Even though they are rather more pricey than the £14 jellies I featured on my last blog post…

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Ikaria sandals, £70 by Ancient Greek Sandals at matchesfashion.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Beach Athletics

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Plage sandals, £20, beachathletics.com (BUY ME HERE!)

This is a new brand for me and was a favourite with Mr Brogue and my auntie. They’re effectively a rubber pool slide with a sling back, and they come in some really great colour combinations. I wouldn’t advise wearing them in the sea as I think they would come off, but they’re brilliant to wear on the beach or by the pool. Oh, and the price tag is rather attractive, too: they’re just £20. So if you can’t decide what colour you want, you could justify getting two pairs…

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Plage sandals, £20, beachathletics.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Plage sandals, £20, beachathletics.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Salt-Water

Salt-Water
Sharks sandals, from £60, salt-watersandals.com (BUY ME HERE!)

I know plenty of you love Salt-Water, but it’s finally warm enough for me to properly wear my new Sharks and I have to say, I’m smitten. These are the new offering from the brand (well, I say “new”, but they’re actually from the archives) and they are a fisherman-style – so they look a bit more like a traditional pair of jellies. Only these aren’t made of rubber: the great thing about Salt-Water is that they are made from a specially coated leather and have rust proof buckles, as well as a rubber sole that grips, so they are totally suitable to wear in the sea, on a boat, or anywhere wet you happen to be going. They are also running a competition to win a pair, just by nominating your favourite beach walk. You can find the details for that here. Oh, and if you’d rather a more traditional sandals that shows your toes, Salt-Water has plenty of those, too.

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Sharks sandals, from £60, salt-watersandals.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Jellies – the retro classic that’s cheap AND stylish

I think Mr Brogue thought I was mad when I bought him a pair of jellies in a French supermarket last summer. But unlike me, he didn’t grow up on the Isle of Wight and he doesn’t half struggle to get in and out of the sea if it’s not a perfectly sandy beach. Although it always gives me a good laugh watching him walk in an ungainly manor out of the ocean after I’ve nimbly found my way back to my towel, enough is enough, and given that we were about to go on a trip to the Amalfi coast – not known for its perfect sandy beaches – I thought they would come in handy (and they were only FIVE EUROS!). Anyway, I was right – we had some great swims from stoney beaches that would have been a right palaver if he didn’t have his jellies. The weird thing is though, I thought they looked rather nice on him. And then I found this picture of Jarvis Cocker from the 90s, and my love for jellies grew even more.

Nice jellies, Jarvis!
Nice jellies, Jarvis!

I’ve got my own pair of jellies – of course I have! – and I’m more and more inclined to wear them even when I’m not swimming, though that added bonus is definitely useful when you like a good sea swim in the UK. Mine are from a brand called Sun Jellies and I can’t recommend them enough, not just because they do a really good range of colours, but because their jellies come in at just £14. Bargain! Rubber sandals are one of the few types of shoe you can buy cheaply and not worry about how they were produced – because they are genuinely really cheap to produce – but you don’t need to worry about animals, either. Jellies are 100% vegetarian shoes. Personally, I prefer jellies in a slightly smokey transparent finish, or in a navy or black as I think they look more chic (yes, I just used the words ‘jellies’ and ‘chic’ in the same sentence) but I am rather drawn to the milky lemon yellow ones (below). Oh, and Sun Jellies also makes the bags you will remember from the Eighties – and they’re only £10.

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Sun Jellies, £14, sunjellies.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Sun Jellies in banana, £14, sunjellies.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Some other jellies that I really like at the moment are these  (below, top) from ASOS. They’ve cleverly made them in a matt finish, because sometimes it’s the shininess of the rubber that puts people off wearing jellies. And there are loads more on the high street too – nothing over £20! Check back on the blog tomorrow when I’ll be looking at alternative bathing shoes (that are all totally stylish enough to wear when you’re not bathing).

ASOS black
‘Foresure’ jellies, £10, asos.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Jelly shoes, £4.99, newlook.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Topshop
‘HUEY2″ sandals, £20, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Ghillies: the new way to do ballet pumps

Something’s happening on the high street at the moment: there’s a ballet pump revolution. Because all of a sudden, the hottest shoe in Topshop, ASOS and Office is the ghillie. But what even IS is a ghillie anyway?

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Maxine Eggenberger in her Topshop ghillies
Like ballet pumps, ghillies have their origins in dance. They’re traditionally used by Irish dancers, as well as Scottish country dancers and Highland dancers. Their distinguishing feature is the leather laces that criss-cross the foot and tie around the ankle, or sometimes all the way up the leg. Now that they’ve appeared on the high street, it turns out that they look brilliant with jeans and skirts as well as traditional country dance costumes. The fashion versions have an almond shaped toe, too, which is far more flattering than a round toe that you’d usually get on a ballet pump. Oh, and they’re not exactly expensive, either – some of them are less than thirty quid!

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Alex from The Frugality in her Next ghillies
I don’t own a pair myself (yet!), but a couple of my friends have been wearing them and looking awesome over the past few weeks. Maxine, who writes for InStyle.co.uk (top) has posted a few pictures on Instagram of hers from Topshop (follow her on Instagram @maxfashwriter) and my pal Alex from The Frugality blog has been rocking her pair from Next, too (above: she’s on Instagram at @thefrugality). I think they’re really elegant, stylish and a great summer option for weddings, work and the pub. Oh, and dancing of course! Plus they look really expensive even though you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a really good pair. Here are the best ones available to buy right now.

Office ghillie black and red
Office ghillies, £60, office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

Office
Office ghillies, £62, office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

Topshop ghillie black
Topshop ghillies, as seen on Maxine, £69, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Topshop nude ghillie
Topshop ghillies, £69, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)

ASOS ghillie blue
ASOS ghillies, £28, asos.com (BUY ME HERE!) – also available in black

ASOS ghillie snake
ASOS ghillies, £28, asos.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Next ghillie
Next ghillies, as seen on Alex, £45, next.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

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What to wear to a wedding when you don’t want to wear heels

So you’re going to a wedding this summer but you can’t face wearing heels? Don’t worry! En Brogue is here to help. I’ve written about this a few times before, but I had a request this week for an update, because let’s face it, there’s going to be loads more flat shoes on offer now than there was last summer. If you’re still worried about ditching your heels for a posh do, I hope I can persuade you to switch to flats because you’ll have a MUCH better time. Tricky staircase to manoeuvre? No problem. Cobbled street to get to the venue? Bring it on. Amazing band playing you want to dance all night to? Just try and stop me!

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This was me at my brother’s wedding last summer. I went about as unconventional as it gets – well, I didn’t wear jeans and a T-shirt, but you get the drift. No dress AND no heels. And I can tell you this: I had the BEST time on the dance floor. I even stole an older gentleman’s orange braces to complete my outfit and use as a dance prop…

Anyway, I digress – what about you? There are a few tricks that might help in your transition. If you still want to look feminine and have a similar effect to a pair of heeled courts, try a pointed toe flat. I’ve said it many times, but there’s something about that pointed toe that mimics the feeling you get from a pair of heels, and it also helps to lengthen your legs. Plus, if you find a shoe with a low cut vamp (that just means it shows more of your foot, and preferably some toe cleavage) you’ll give your legs even more of a helping hand. These are the perfect shoes to wear with a shift or fitted dress. There are lots of metallic styles around at the moment.

Zara
strappy shoes, £39.99, zara.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Dune
Amarie flats, £55, dunelondon.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Sandro flats
Sandro pumps, £290, selfridges.com (BUY ME HERE!)

How about a bit of embellishment? I know some women feel they need to compensate for the lack of heels by wearing really snazzy flats (like those poor women who got turned away from the red carpet in their rhinestone flats at Cannes earlier this week) and although I don’t agree that you have to do this, there are some lovely shoes in the style that work really well for a wedding. If sparkles aren’t your thing, look for snake-effect leather or this season’s hot feature – ghillie laces. Just avoid it on round-toed ballet pumps or risk looking like you’re on your way to an 8th birthday party.

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Ghillie lace-ups, £60, office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
Topshop snake
Voltage pumps, £18, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)

I also think white shoes are an absolute winner, particularly if you’re going for something more masculine. I felt great in my monks from Northern Cobbler (sadly they’re not available anymore). This is a good option for anyone wearing trousers, though I would advise picking something cropped or rolling up the hems so you show your ankles. It’s MUCH more flattering.

ASOS white
Maddison shoes, £28, asos.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Northern Cobbler
Damselfish loafers, £210, northerncobbler.com (BUY ME HERE!) – you can can 15% off with EnBrogue until the end of May – find out how here!
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Rose brogues, £195, grenson.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

I hope that helps any of you looking for wedding guest shoes (or brides-to-be come to that – because why shouldn’t the bride wear flats too?). The best thing of all is that you can invest in a pair of shoes you’re likely to wear again; all of these would looking brilliant just with a simple white shirt and jeans. I’d love to see what flat shoes you’re wearing to weddings this summer, so tweet me a picture to @EnBrogue or tag me on Instagram.

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The EnBroguelopedia: Clarks Originals desert boots

As this iconic boot celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, I thought it was about time for another entry in the EnBroguelopedia. It’s also worth mentioning that Clarks has brought out some cracking special designs to celebrate the milestone (as I’m wearing here) and has loads of colour options this summer, too (click here for the full range). So, what is a desert boot, anyway?

 
Clarks Originals Desert Boots were launched in 1950, but their concept dates back to 1944. They were designed by Nathan Clark (a member of that Clarks family), who was an army officer. He was inspired by the chukka boots made in the bazaars of Cairo that had been adopted as a practical option by the Eighth Army, who were transferred from North Africa to the Far East, where Clark was also stationed. Clarks weren’t sure the design would sell, but after editorial coverage in the US edition of Esquire magazine in 1950 the shoe took off, at first in America and later in Europe. The distinctive features of a Clarks Original Desert Boot are the crepe sole (my favourite type of sole – so comfortable) and just four lace holes – two on either side. 

Strongly associated with mod culture in the UK, they are an absolute design classic, and are always in style. Most men I know own or have owned a pair, but I think they look brilliant on smaller feet (i.e. mine) teamed with a skirt or shorts in the summer. Just make sure your other half isn’t wearing an identical pair or someone will have to get changed… 

desert boots Clarks with Mr Brogue

 
This is an extract from my book En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels. which is published by Saltyard and is available at Waterstones, Amazon, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Northern Cobbler and all good book stores.

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Dandals?! En Brogue checks out this season’s controversial shoes – velcro sandals

Continuing my weekend theme of velcro, today I’m looking at a hot trend for this summer: velcro sandals. I can’t take the credit for coining the phrase ‘dandals’, sadly – that accolade goes to my friend and fellow blogger Alex from The Frugality. It means Dad Sandals. Geddit? Anyway, I wrote about velcro walking-style sandals that your dad might wear (in fact, mine does…regularly) back in September when I spotted cheap Gola sandals on the catwalk at Christopher Raeburn’s show at London Fashion Week. I promptly bought myself a pair but I haven’t got round to wearing them yet – they’re just a little bit TOO practical to look stylish, but I am planning to wear them on summer walks on the Isle of Wight.

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Me wearing Hudson sandals (here) and Alex in Teva (here)

Since then though, many brands have got on board with the idea and produced much more wearable, fashion forward versions. Alex and I got together for a picture of us wearing our favourite ones around at the moment. Alex is wearing Teva – a brand that’s well versed in the skill of making comfortable velcro sandals. I’ve got a pair of my own, too, and they really are a treat for your feet! The shoes I’m wearing in the picture are from Hudson and I LOVE them – they almost feel like they could be from Marni. I borrowed the tan pair in the shot but I’ve ordered my own pair in black with a red trim. I literally can’t wait for them to arrive! They’re also available in silver.

Hudson Calypso
Hudson Calypso sandals, £60, hudsonshoes.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Hudson silver
Hudson Calypso sandals, £60, hudsonshoes.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Teva has a HUGE range of velcro sandals – my favourites are the Originals range but if you go as high as a flatform, they have some great fashion styles this season (also with a touch of Marni – the master of “fugly” sandals!). There’s pretty much every colour you could wish for but I went for a simple plain grey as I prefer it to the patterned fabrics.

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Original sandals, £50, teva.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

The great thing about velcro sandals is that they’re often really cheap, too. Plus, if the weather is good enough, they’re absolutely perfect to wear to a festival. Free People has a really good range – I love the tropical feel of the printed pair below.

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Sienna sandals, £60, freepeople.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
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Boundary Falls sandals, £128, freepeople.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

Topshop also has a really great selection, including the bright, block coloured pair below that are a dead ringer for the catwalk versions that appear on the Burberry catwalk back in September (and are much cheaper, too!).

Topshop Reef
FUNKI Reef sandals, £48, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Topshop gold
FUNKI Reef sandals, £48, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Topshop velcro
HITCH Sporty sandals, £26, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)

And that’s the great thing about the velcro sandals trend – they rarely set you back too much money – although I have found a few gorgeous designer pairs too, if you have some cash to splash! Velvet velcro sandals? How decadent…

Sandro
Sandro velvet sandals, £199, selfridges.com (BUY ME HERE!)