It’s a bit mean of me to do this blog post right now, because you can’t actually buy these socks in the UK at the moment, but I was given some to try out and they’re so good I had to tell you about them immediately. Oh, and the PR assures me that they’ll be available at ASOS.com soon. So as soon as they are, I’ll update this post and let you know! Anyway, on to those socks, because I reckon you’re going to be pretty excited about buying a pair for yourself.
The brand in question is Stance, a company that makes all sorts of lovely socks, not just trainers socks, and there are a few very interesting pairs available at ASOS.com now (and they’re in the sale, too). They have great designs and are big on the snazzy sock which, as you well know, I am too. I have a couple of pairs of their “normal” socks and they’re really nice; a good fit with a proper heel and very nice quality. But when I heard about their amazing “invisible” trainer socks, I had to get my hands on some.
I know SO many of you are going to be with me when I talk about the pain of finding the right trainer socks. They’re usually too big, so you can see them. Very annoying, and kind of defeats the object. If they’re small enough to only just be visible, they’re likely to fall down. Oh, and they’re almost always really, really boring in their design or horribly girly. So most of the time I just wear my trainers with no socks at all, and we all know the outcome of that scenario: smelly trainers.
As you can see, no-one can accuse Stance of making boring socks. These beauties are so nice it’s a shame that they are totally invisible! But they are, I’ve tested them out with the trainers that are most difficult to hide trainer socks in. OK, you can see a TINY bit of them in my Stan Smiths, but they didn’t show at all with skate shoes. So that invisible claim is true.
“But surely they fall down!” I can hear you crying. Well, no, actually. When I first wore them I kept thinking they were falling down, but they weren’t, I was just being paranoid. It’s down to the fact that they have a little patch of silicone on the inside of each heel, and that grabs onto your skin, keeping the socks in place. Genius. Check back for them being available here – I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as they are!
Birkenstock’s Boston clogs are selling fast, and have become a surprise hit with fashion folk…but why? I thought it was about time I tried some out for myself to see what all the fuss is about.
First things first, let’s talk about clogs in general. They’re having a moment. Gucci – the designer brand that everyone in the fashion world ADORES at the moment, headed up by its new creative director Alessandro Michele – showed them on the catwalk for AW15, so there’s your fashion proof for starters. Sure, his weren’t Birkenstock Boston clogs, but then Celine didn’t show Birkenstock Arizonas on the catwalk a few years ago – rather they were their own version with fur lining – but that’s exactly what boosted their sales over the past few summers. It might even be why you bought a pair.
Second, and obviously, there’s the convenience factor that comes with a slip-on shoe. I’m familiar with this style of clog mostly because my friend, the food writer Elly Pear, wears hers every day at work in her lovely café, The Pear Café in Bristol. “You have to wear closed toe shoes in the kitchen but when it gets boiling hot I can slip my foot out and air it” she told me “and in the winter, they’re roomy enough to wear cosy thick socks with”. In fact, loads of chefs wear them, and food is certainly very fashionable at the moment; perhaps that comes into it too? I wondered how Elly felt about the fact that they were making a fashion comeback (if indeed, they were ever actually fashionable in the first place). “We jokingly call them Troll Shoes and they’re cafe shoes really… Although I have mates who wear theirs out in the ‘real world’ – my mate Julian has rocked his all over the world for years!”
Thirdly, there’s the way they look, and that’s the stumbling block for most people (Marmite alert!). They’re not exactly what you’d call elegant, and hiding away your toes makes quite a bit of difference to wearing a pair of Arizonas. But a shoe that’s tricky to wear and comes with “uncool” connotations scores high in fashion terms if you manage to get it right. I’ve tried mine with a few outfits and by far the best is just with a pair of skinny jeans – my tightest pair, in fact, and preferably black – and bare ankles. I tried a snazzy sock and I didn’t look as cool as Elly in her café! And they just didn’t seem to quite work with a skirt, but maybe that’s because I’m short. I also prefer the matt black styles to the snazzy metallic ones, although the taupe suede are rather nice too.
The last, and most obvious point, is to talk about how they feel. They are, of course, completely dreamy. They feel exactly like my Arizonas, but that bonus of the covered toe makes them brilliant when the weather is rubbish in the summer (thanks for that, Britain). If Birkenstock were to make these babies with sheepskin lining, as they have in the past, I’d be first in the queue to get a pair.
One thing I’m sure of, is that you’ll be seeing a lot of these shoes on your Instagram feed in the coming months, like Arizonas before them. I would LOVE to know what you think. I imagine there will be some difference of opinion! But that’s what makes fashion fun, right?
WOAH! How nice are these shoes? They’re from a brand new shoe label called Ted & Muffy, created by the team behind DUO Boots. I was always a big fan of DUO, with its emphasis on getting the correct fit, and Ted & Muffy has the same ethos but packs a lot more of a punch where style is concerned. Head to their website and you can learn how to measure not only your shoe width, but your CALF width too, meaning that their boots fit like an absolute dream. Genius.
But back to those dreamy shoes. Ted & Muffy let me borrow a few pairs to try out for myself, and it was a real pleasure to get my hands on these in real life. The quality is really high and they’ve very much got the cool factor going on, but the shoes are INCREDIBLY comfortable too. They have rubber soles, which only add to the comfort but are also extremely practical. Here’s the low-down on my favourite four pairs from the new collection, all of which are available to buy online now.
Zoom in pewter embossed leather
I’m not always a fan of a metallic lace-up but these have won me over big time. That almond-shape toe is really flattering and adds a feminine touch, and I love the way the embossed croc effect “fades” out towards the toe. The leather on these is so malleable that I can’t imagine anyone having any trouble wearing them in, but they still have the sturdiness of a classic dress shoe. Wear with jeans, a white shirt and bare ankles for timeless chic. Also available in black or cherry patent leather.
Rhapsody in black leather
When a boot has a rock ‘n’ roll edge, I like it to be subtle rather than all buckles and zips a-blazing, and these work for me very nicely indeed. The minimal metalwork isn’t too in your face, and the beautiful leather and another almond toe makes them a really classy boot. I’ve recently taken to pairing black ankle boots with a ladylike knee-length skirt (and sometimes a peek of a black lace or brightly coloured sock!); Rhapsody would be perfect for that look.
Olivander in chestnut leather
Oh, how cute are these! With their petite proportions and low-cut vamp, they’re a lovely shape and flatter the legs nicely. Well, if you don’t team them with a pair of mental socks, as I have, but I do love a snazzy sock with a loafer! Sometimes slip-on shoes can slip off just as easily which is annoying, but these cling snugly to the foot without any pinching. The perfect tassel loafers (also available in black).
Riddle in cranberry leather
Every girl should have a pair of Chelsea boots in her repertoire, and in my book, a deep red pair like this will be far more versatile than a black pair. Why? I just find it easier to pair burgundy shades with socks and jeans, and as that’s what I’ll be wearing them with most of the time it makes more sense. That said, these are available in black and should that be your preference, I’d suggest wearing them with black skinny jeans, rather than blue, or a skirt. Either way, you can’t go wrong as far as walking is them is concerned because they’re so very comfortable.
Ted & Muffy has a LOAD more styles available on its website, so check it out!
I recently was treated to a dinner hosted by the American shoe brand Hush Puppies (at the Sky Garden, an amazing rooftop restaurant in London, since you ask), where, right between the main course and desert, one of the representatives grabbed a lovely pair of orange suede desert boots and chucked her glass of water over them. “See?!” she cried, “it’s Worry-Free Suede!”. Worry-Free Suede is not a new thing – Hush Puppies invented it decades ago – but I had never seen it in action before. The water just formed into droplets and slid off the suede, leaving no trace or marks whatsoever. Genius! I was convinced it wouldn’t work but I double checked the boot on my way out at the end of the night (after it had had three or four more glasses of water chucked at it – poor boot) and it looked perfect.
The brand Hush Puppies dates back to 1958 and was popular with hip musicians in the Sixties (it’s even thought that a pair saved the life of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards when he was nearly electrocuted and his crepe soles insulated him from the shock). They fell out of favour for a while but had a resurgence in the Nineties and have caught my eye again with these snazzy desert boots. Not only are they super comfortable and have a rubber sole (those pesky crepe soles are a nightmare in the rain) but they’re made of the aforementioned Worry-Free Suede, making them unlikely candidates for the mantel of Perfect Boots To Wear In The Rain (I would NEVER normally recommend this of a desert boot).
They’re currently only available in black camouflage and brown, but I’m hopeful that those snazzy orange ones will make their way over from America soon, too.
Disclaimer: these boots have a very subtle, very small concealed wedge. It’s so squishy you barely feel it, in fact, I’m not 100% it even exists. But just in case…
There are pool slides, and then there are Pool Slides; super high-quality sandals that are customisable to such an extreme that they make me pull a ridiculous face like this (above) and deserve capital letters. I ordered these babies a while ago and they arrived yesterday to squeals of excitement from both me and my editor at InStyle, who couldn’t quite believe that something so brilliant had happened (and it hadn’t even happened to her!). Have you got the gist of how much I love these shoes? Good. That’s that sorted.
Now, often in my line of work I am lucky enough to have things customised – to pick my favourite colours to use on a handbag, say, or to have my initials monogrammed into anything from a pair of Marks and Sparks pants to a set of petanque from Dior. Which is GREAT and everything, don’t get me wrong, but when someone says “ooo, I like your bag, where did you get it?” I can’t direct them to a place they can get one for themselves, because it was just a special thing they did for the fashion press. This is NOT one of those situations! Because with mi adilette, you can customise your own Pool Slides however you want them just by doing it online. That’s all I did. And that’s how I got the excited face and the excellent shoes.
There are a few options – go to adidas.co.uk to see them all – so check them out before you start to make sure you have the right pair for you. For example, if you’re not really a rubber shoes kind of a gal (or guy, come to that – guys are not excluded from this game!) you’ll want the mi adilette Premium, where you can choose luxurious finishes like a ponyskin strap and suede sole.
If you want to make a statement or perhaps are thinking of giving them as a gift (it’s just occurred to me that a pair of these would be a brilliant present for a new bride to change into on the dance floor at a wedding, if her new surname is short enough), you need mi adilette Your Call, where you can choose four letters to put on each shoe (I really lucked out that En Brogue is only eight letters!). These have a leather strap and the letters are embroidered in cotton, so they look really cool and are top quality.
Even the classic mi adilette original design from 1972 (you know, the one with the stripes that footballers wear with socks in the changing rooms) is available to pimp, as you’re able to choose your colours. And these are the cheapest option, too, starting at just £27. And the benefits don’t stop there! They have a moulded sole (a little like a Birkenstock but less exaggerated) so they’re REALLY comfortable. A word of warning though – they come up slightly small so you might want to go up a size if you have long toes!
Anyway, I’m just happy that the sun is coming back out this weekend so I can wear them and wear them and wear them!
This week, Converse brought out the Chuck Taylor II, a new, revamped version of one of – if not, THE – world’s favourite trainers. But why mess with a classic, you might ask? I thought the same thing myself. So I got a pair on my feet so I could answer that very question.
What exactly is the difference between the Chuck Taylor II and your regular pair of Cons anyway? Well, the insole is different for starters; it has a Nike Lunarlon sock liner (and pretty comfy it feels, too. Bouncy, even). Nike bought Converse back in 2003, so they might as well make the most of its technology I suppose. Some of the trademarks have been tweaked – there’s no black line around the sole of the shoe, making them look modern and minimal, and the star badge on the ankle is now fully embroidered. Nice touch. Even the canvas is different, making them more durable and breathable. And the tongue is held in place with two pieces of elastic, meaning you won’t get that annoying thing where they slip over to one side. For the most part, though, this is a very sensitive update of a shoe that literally everybody loves. A bit like what all Star Wars fans are hoping JJ Abrams will do with The Force Awakens (geek alert!).
Anyway, I’ve gone off topic. Let’s get back to those shoes. Available in high top or Ox (low), they just come in four colours at the moment – white, black, red and blue. This is another nice touch, as when Converse All Stars first launched they were only available in black or white. Sometimes too much choice can be a bad thing. As you can see, I went for the white high tops (I find them more comfortable than the low Ox versions) because I can’t get enough of white sneakers at the moment. They go with everything, and I think the white Chuck Taylor IIs look the most different from the original Converse out of all the colours.
They do come up a little smaller than regular Cons, so you might want to go up a size (I did, to allow for socks). I’d love to know what you think of the new design. Leave comments below!
Exciting news! I have a pair of tickets to give away to the V&A’s brilliant exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, which is – you guessed it – all about shoes. Yay! As the name suggests, there are a lot of heels in amongst the exhibits, but any shoe connoisseur – flat lover or heel lover alike – will find it totally fascinating. I was lucky enough to go along to the press preview when it opened and I highly recommend it (although with the dress code that particular evening being to wear the most outrageous shoes you owned, and me rocking up in some bright Norman Walsh trainers, I did feel rather underdressed!). I took Mr Brogue with me too, and there was plenty to amuse him as well. This is a fashion exhibition that is definitely not just for girls.
From bright yellow Mary Quant boots from the Sixties to an entire private collection of adidas trainers – including my favourite ever trainers that I have never owned: the adidas Jeans – there’s something for everyone here. Keep your eyes peeled for the horrifyingly small shoes for Chinese women with bound feet (I never realised how tiny they really were) and Egyptian ‘bath clogs’, which look like they are on stilts. There are obviously shoes in this collection that go against everything I believe in, comfort-wise, but it just cements my opinion that no shoes are worth being in pain for! Interesting as their stories may be…
As well as the tickets, you’ll receive a copy of the accompanying V&A book. To enter, simply tweet or Instagram an image of your favourite comfortable shoes that give you the most pleasure with the hashtag #EnBroguePleasureandPain before the end of July. I’ll announce the winner, who Mr Brogue will pick at random, on August 1st. Oh, and if you do win, be sure to spot my book – available to buy in the special shoe-paraphernalia shop before you go into the exhibition. Can you tell how excited I was to see it there myself? Good luck!
When UGG got in touch and challenged me to wear their shoes for a week, I jumped at the chance. I may not be a traditional UGG boot kind of girl, but I’ve been really interested in the variety of styles that are on offer now. In fact, I’ve been meaning to try a pair for myself since I slipped on my niece’s sheepskin lined brogues at Christmas when she wasn’t looking. They were SO NICE.
OK, so you think sheepskin lined shoes are going to be really hot? Here’s the thing about wool; it’s a self-regulating fabric as far as your temperature is concerned, so as well as keeping your feet warm in the winter, it keeps them cool in the summer. True fact! Which makes these shoes good for all year round. It also means that you can get away with wearing no socks and the shoes are far less likely to rub. And nothing feels quite as dreamy as sheepskin against your bare feet…
The shoes UGG asked me to try were from their sneakers and summer boots collection: five days, five pairs of shoes. Here are the results.
Day 1 in ‘Jemma’ trainers
Day one was an office day, so I needed to look pretty smart. Tennis shoe-style trainers like these always look really good with tailoring, so I paired them with some smart, cropped cigarette trousers (always remember to show a flash of ankle as it’s more elegant) and my new favourite long trench that I like to call my ‘Inspector Gadget’ coat. The trainers finished off the look brilliantly, and their quilted design is bang on trend – quilting is BIG news for the autumn.
I was out and about on appointments on day two, so I didn’t need to look as smart. Definitely a jeans day, and in my book, nothing looks better with blue denim than a bright pair of suede shoes. These boots are absolute perfection; they’re cut really low on the ankle which is REALLY flattering, they’re sheepskin lined (feels like wearing your slippers out!) and that colour! The colour is just devine. Oh, and to top it all off they have a crepe sole, and it doesn’t get more comfortable than a crepe sole.
A plain black trainer is a really useful thing to have in your wardrobe if you need to look smart, as I did on day three, but your work dress code allows you to look a bit more edgy. As with the Jemma trainers, I’ve teamed these ones with a bit of tailoring but the dress is made of jersey, which carries through the sporty vibe. None of these trainers are fully sheepskin lined but they do have sheepskin across the inner heels, which prevents rubbing. Genius.
I spend a lot of my time on the Isle of Wight where I grew up, and it’s practically the law to wear shorts there from about May 15th onwards. That’s where I was on day four. These canvas trainers look really cute with a pair of shorts while it’s still warm (much better than a high-top trainer which would cut off your legs a bit), and I think they felt rather at home on the beach. Did I mention that they are super-comfortable? No? Well, they were. And that slightly off-white colour is much less harsh against your legs than pure white if you didn’t manage to get a tan this year…plus they’ll look great with jeans when it starts to get chilly.
I was still on the Isle of Wight for day five, where there is pretty much always something going on well into the autumn. Countless festivals, rowing and sailing regattas, food fairs…so a good ‘festivals and similar occasions’ pair of boots is essential to my wardrobe. These boots are those boots! They’re like the red ‘Camellia’ boots but slightly higher cut and with a zip. They’re still pretty low on the ankle though, which is great for leg lengthening purposes. If a short girl like me can wear them with a skirt, anyone can. Just add a jaunty hat and you’re good to go.
There’s no better time of year to buy summer shoes than at the end of the summer. Because that’s when the sales are on! And that time is now. Often I would advise investing in some staple classics that you’ll DEFINITELY want to wear year on year, but there are such fun designs out there at the moment that I’m veering away from my own advice and have picked the brightest, most bonkers shoes available right now in the sale. Because these designer shoes are ALL less than £70, and that’s a pretty tempting price tag for a bit of good quality. Besides, who’s to say you won’t want to wear crazy shoes next summer anyway? Not me. So here are my top designer summer sales picks for under £70 (and some of them are even less than £30!).
Marc by Marc Jacobs pool slides
Catch them while you can! This label will be no more after AW15, so this is your last chance to get yourself a pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs summer shoes. I’m a big fan of rubber pool slides in general, and I reckon these will be an old favourite you’ll still be bringing out for holidays in years to come.
I LOVE YMC shoes – they are incredibly comfortable and hard wearing. I also have a thing for trainers with a retro gum sole, so these are right up my street. Plus they come in a cute shade of powder pink, which feels perfect for this time of year.
Hunter pool slides
I have these very sandals but in a different design and they are some of the most comfortable shoes that have ever graced my feet. Because they’re made of rubber they’re waterproof, but they don’t rub at all as some rubber shoes do. Plus they look really cool to boot.
Paul Smith plimsolls
These cute-as-a-button plimsolls also come in a two-tone pink and orange, but I’m a sucker for anything yellow so this pair is my favourite. You get the best of both worlds with these shoes – a sure-fire hit classic as far as the plimsoll style is concerned but in a bright, bonkers colour. Win win.
Penelope Chilvers espadrille sandals
Here’s a website well worth checking out during the sales; beautiful shoes at heavily discounted prices are pretty hard to resist. I had my eye on these at the beginning of the season and didn’t get them but now that they have been reduced I’m seriously tempted. Also available in cream.
MSGM skate shoes
Oh my! These sneakers are delicious aren’t they? Even if it wasn’t summer, you’d feel like it was tropical weather wearing these shoes. They only have size 40s left but I thought it was worth including them because they make me so happy to look at! Oh, and because they have a whopping 75% off.
adidas by Stella McCartney slides
Saving the cheapest until last, these beauties are a mere £26. Bargain! You can’t argue with that…
Sandals can be like long lost friends when the weather actually warms up enough to wear them. They have all the qualities of a best mate; they’re reliable, they won’t hurt you and they still make you feel great, even after all these years. And you just can’t wait to hang out with them on holiday or in the beer garden of your local pub on a Sunday afternoon. So since this heatwave is set to continue, though you wouldn’t know it looking outside today, I thought I’d talk about some of my favourite sandals in my collection. These are the shoes I come back to year after year, that I look forward to unearthing from my sandals basket under the bed in the summer, from brands I completely trust for both comfort and quality.
Yeah, I know this is a bit obvious, but as someone who has literally been wearing Birkenstocks for decades, I had to include them. I know a lot of you have been wearing these with me since LONG before the fashion world decided they were cool – because there were definitely times when they were NOT cool, and those times will no doubt come round again, but that won’t stop me wearing them. Birks can take a while to wear in but I urge you not to give up (it may take you three or four wears before they don’t feel weird) because once they’ve moulded to fit your feet, you’ll never want to take them off. Honestly, they make it very difficult to wear anything else! My favourite style is the double strap Arizona because it stays nicely on your foot without too much flapping on the heel, but I’ve also dabbled with single straps and toe posts in the past.
Birkenstocks are also really sturdy. You can wear them in the rain (they have a rubber sole) and they won’t fall apart. They last for years but when they finally do wear out, you know you can go back and get the same pair because a brand with this history (they’ve been making their cork-soled sandals since 1964) continues the same styles year after year. Oh, and if you take them on holiday and the weather doesn’t quite work out, you can wear them with socks. It’s an emergency measure, but one worth considering!
Ancient Greek Sandals
I’ve been a fan of these simple leather sandals since they first launched a few years ago. I love that they’re so traditional looking (in fact, they’re made in Greece by a family business, so no wonder they look authentic) and when you first get a pair, you’ll notice the delicious smell of the leather. Like any leather shoes, they need a little wearing in but not much, and once that leather has softened a little they’re a dream on the feet.
I know these might be a little more expensive than you’d like to pay for a pair of sandals, but I can assure you it’s worth it. Oh, and Matches has some lovely ones in the sale now, so it’s a great time to invest. Sandals need to be really well constructed to last well – they’re just a few flimsy strips of leather after all – and AGS’s sandals are beautifully made. My oldest pair have survived much walking, many sandy beaches and even an unfortunate incident where they fell in a swimming pool. In fact, they look all the better for it.
Everyone I know who has a pair of these got them because they NEEDED them. Sure, they liked the way they looked, but when they found out about all the extra benefits, they just HAD to get a pair. Particularly but not exclusively popular with mums, Salt-water sandals are leather but 100% waterproof, too. They’re coated with some special stuff that protects the leather and the buckles are rust-proof, so you can even stick them in the washing machine. Perfect for this country’s unpredictable weather but also great for sea swimming, beach walking and splashing about with a toddler (my friend Holly recently caused a stir when she wore hers in a paddling pool, with other mums rushing over to find out where she got these amazing waterproof leather sandals).
Salt-water sandals are also ludicrously comfortable and practical. They have a rubber sole which gives a reassuring grip – none of those worries of slipping over in some lethal flat-soled leather sandals (I’ve come a cropper on stone steps a few times in this way!). Oh, and they look REALLY great too.
I’d love to know about your favourite ever sandals – leave a comment below to let me know about your best summer friends!