Yes that’s right – you could win a supply of shoes for the whole year with Oasis at the moment. Oasis might not be the first place on the high street you think of going for shoes, but they have a really good selection. And the Chelsea boots that I’m wearing below – which come in lots of different colours – are INCREDIBLY comfortable. They have a cushioned sole, so it’s like wearing slippers. What’s not to like about that?
To give you a taster of the sorts of flat shoes you could be kitted out with for your year if you win, here’s a small selection of what’s online at the moment. Of course, they will be getting more styles throughout the year though!
To enter, simply upload a shoefie to Instagram (that’s a shoe selfie, like mine at the top, but you knew that already, right?!) tagging @oasisfashion and including the hashtag #meltintospring. You’ve got until January 31st to enter and you must be wearing a pair of Oasis shoes in the picture. Good luck!
I thought it was about time I put a few extracts from my book on the blog about some of the most important flat shoe styles you need in your wardrobe, and what better shoe to start with than the most incorrectly used in the fashion industry by brands and editors alike? Ever since masculine lace-up shoes became a wardrobe essential about five years ago, ‘brogues’ became shorthand as a way of describing them. Only, they’re not brogues unless they fill certain criteria (see below) and the misuse of the word really gets on my wick! So read and learn, people: what makes a brogue a brogue?
Many people have taken to referring to all flat lace-up shoes as brogues. In fact, the term ‘broguing’ refers to the holes punched in the leather from which the shoes are constructed. This means you can have slip-on or even heeled brogues – they don’t have to be flat lace-ups but they must have the holes.
Now that we’ve cleared up that technicality, what are the holes for? Brogues (derived from the Gaelic word bróg meaning ‘shoe’) were originally a country shoe worn by the Scottish and Irish when they needed to cross a bog. The holes allowed the water to drain out and the shoe to dry off once it was taken off. Clever, eh? They looked so nice, though, that they were later adopted on formal shoes and are most commonly found on Derby, Oxford and monk styles.
pages 8 and 9, En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels.
So the word brogue doesn’t really refer to the type shoe – that could be a Derby, Oxford, monk, Chelsea boot, loafer or even a trainer – it just refers to that lovely pattern of punched holes that the shoe is decorated with. Whether you’re just starting out in the world of stylish flat shoes (welcome!) or you’re a seasoned En Broguer, you really need a pair of brogued shoes in your repertoire. They’re a brilliant dress shoe for posh events, but look equally at home with turned up jeans. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t call a shoe with no holes a brogue! Here are my favourites to buy at the moment…
This week I went to an adidas event to celebrate the fact that 2015 is the year of the Superstar. 2014 was the year of the Stan Smith – EVERYONE, including me was wearing them – but this year it’s all about the trusty shell toe. Neneh Cherry was DJing at the party, and she was wearing them too, so it must be true.
Now, I am not new to the charms of the shell toe. As this picture proves, I have been wearing them for a LONG time. Since early 1996, to be precise. That’s nearly twenty years! I thought they were just about the coolest thing that had ever been on my feet, and I was so chuffed with them that I slept with them next to my pillow so they’d be the first thing I saw when I woke up.
More evidence – here is a line-up of all my Superstars (minus the red stripe pair that my 13 year-old niece nabbed off me over Christmas – yet more proof, if needed, that these shoes are SO this year). It’s like three generations; the 1996 pair have even shrivelled up like an elderly person. I’ve searched high and low for a replacement pair with this gum sole and toe, but sadly they don’t make them anymore. Still, I am rather taken with my new box fresh, blindingly bright, white on white pair.
What I love about these trainers is that you can style them up so many different ways. If an urban vibe is your thing, like the model image, top, you really couldn’t do any better. I used to wear mine with all my Brit Pop get up – vintage adidas tight tops, cords and anoraks – and though I still love that look, I’m more likely to pair them with leather trousers and a sweatshirt these days. I’ve also been know to throw them on with a pair of tailored trousers and if I had the occasion to wear a tux, then these would be my footwear of choice. And of course, they look brilliant with jeans. So if you’re looking for this year’s go-with-everything fashion trainer, it’s got to be the adidas Superstar. From £65, adidas.co.uk.
I do love a print on a shoe. I’ve written many times about shoe collaborations with print designers – Clarks has its ongoing relationship with Orla Kiely and Liberty puts its prints on everything from Vans to Nikes – but I think you will all love this new one. Retro sneaker specialist Gola has teamed up with, err, retro print specialist Cath Kidston to create a collection of…you guessed it: retro trainers. I mean, could there BE a more perfect match?
I managed to get my hands on a pair BEFORE the release date and I’ve been sworn to secrecy until today. They will be available at Cath Kidston stores and online from next week for £65. My favourite design is the cloud print (that’s why I chose it!). What’s yours?
You might remember back in September when I was at Milan fashion week that I was swooning over Moncler’s sporty sandals. This is a MASSIVE trend for the coming summer (Marni, Roksanda and Burberry were amongst the other brands showing them on the catwalk – read about that here) and one I’ll be grabbing with both hands. I mean, both feet.
Anyway, the Moncler ones aren’t going to be cheap, so I’m glad that it looks like the high street will be catching on to this trend. With Christmas not even a distant memory, you can already pick up a pair of Fondant strap sandals from Toppers, and they’re less than sixty quid. Bargain!
My favourites are the multi-coloured ones, as they mimic best the design of the Moncler sandals. It’s a shame the straps aren’t elastic (I mean, IMAGINE how comfortable) but they do give a pretty similar effect, even with that shiny finish. And for the less flamboyant amongst you, they’re available in plain black, too. I’m looking forward to seeing what offerings the rest of the high street comes up with, so watch this space!
Australia seems to be having a bit of a flat shoe moment. I’m not sure why…maybe it’s that laid-back Aussie lifestyle that makes them so good at making comfortable footwear down under. Some of these brands have (literally) come and found me, so I thought I would share them with you too, as you might not have heard of them if you don’t live in Australia. They all ship worldwide too, so it really doesn’t matter where you live if you want to take advantage.
I discovered Marssi when someone tagged me in an Instagram picture of Laura Whitmore wearing an amazing pair of silver shoes while she was presenting I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. There is currently a small selection of Derby styles online – my favourites are the floral fabric pair – but you can also design your own shoes by sending them your ideas. The shoes are unisex, handmade, and use up cycled fabrics or locally sourced leather. Gorgeous.
Last year I ran a competition to win a pair of habbot shoes and you lot went nuts for it! I’m not surprised – these shoes are just lovely. So snazzy! They’re actually handmade in Italy (about as good as it gets) but designed in Melbourne by Annie Abbot. There is a huge selection and most are in the sale at the moment.
Shoes of Prey
A reader alerted me to this website, where you can ONLY design your own shoes. So one for the creatives amongst you! It’s great fun – very similar to designing your own trainers on the Nike or adidas websites if you’ve ever tried that – and they also provide free shipping to the UK. Bonus! For flat shoes they have a choice of ballet flats, sandals or Oxfords. Above and below are the results of me having a play! You can choose from loads of different materials as well as colours, and there are vegan options too.
Senso are pretty well established in the UK now (they’re stocked at plenty of UK places, including ASOS.com) but are still relatively new so I wanted to include them. I LOVE this brand. I’m particularly taken with the summer pool slides (in fact I have a pair waiting patiently for summer under my bed) but they’re a bit difficult to find at the moment because it’s still winter in the UK. If you’re reading this in Australia of course, it’s summer, so you’ll have no trouble tracking them down! And you can buy directly online as Senso provides free shipping worldwide. Pool slides and sporty sandals are still huge news for SS15, so these are bang on trend for the new season. They’re dead comfortable, too. Obvs.
Writing En Brogue isn’t my full-time job. As you probably already know, I’m fashion features editor at InStyle magazine too. The February issue is out now and rather excitingly, that means you can now read the first of my new monthly columns! It’s called ‘How Hannah Wears It’ and is all about (you guessed it) how I wear the new season trends as a fairly short person who doesn’t wear heels. Because it’s not always easy! The first trend I’ve tackled is the blue school shirt, because I LOVED this look at the Jil Sander SS15 show, but there’s no way I could get away with styling it with baggy trousers and flats like they did on the catwalk. So here’s my take on the trend….
And of course, as this is me, each month you’ll get three extra pairs of flat shoes to drool over. There’s loads of other great stuff in the new issue too (like how to find your perfect pair of jeans) – hope you enjoy reading it!
Happy New Year to En Broguers everywhere! Hope you had a good one and aren’t nursing too heavy a hangover. The chances are that I am currently very thirsty and have a terrible headache, but I had the forethought to write and schedule this post in advance of my New Year’s Eve party – there’s no need for you all to suffer because I had a few too many glasses of English sparking wine (my new tipple)!
Anyway, I’ll take any opportunity to encourage you to buy a gorgeous new pair of shoes (#enabler), and welcoming in the new year seems like a pretty good excuse. You deserve it! So I’ve come up with 7 reasons you can use to justify splashing out on a stylish new pair of flats.
1. They’re still totally on trend
It’s been a few years now since flat shoes started to make their way down the catwalks to the delight of people like me who just can’t wear heels, and their presence at fashion week is as big as ever. Having seen all of next season’s collections for myself already, I can assure you that wearing a brogue is still en vogue for summer 2015. More about that soon…
2. The choice is better than ever
Sooner or later, there might be a tipping point when the fashion world decides it’s time for heels to be “in” again. Now, I won’t be jumping on that particular bandwagon, but while flats are on trend you won’t find a better selection to choose from. Personally, I don’t actually think we’ll ever go back to the days when flat shoes were hidden at the back of the shop, but it’s just not worth the risk so I’m stocking up while the going’s good just in case.
3. Men understand (finally)
I think it took some guys (not ALL guys, but some) a while to come round to the idea that a woman can look brilliant and sexy in a flat shoe, but now that they’re on board, let’s not confuse them.
4. Your feet are really happy about it
Apparently, you’re not meant to wear the same pair of shoes every day because it’s bad for your feet. So you need at least three pairs of stylish flats to rotate as your wardrobe dictates. Remember – buying lots of pairs of cheap shoes is a false economy as a) they will wear out quickly and b) you won’t wear them because they are uncomfortable. If you only have three pairs of shoes in your wardrobe, make them a brogue, a Chelsea boot and a pointy flat. These will see you through everything.
5. Your back is really happy about it
It’s not just wearing flat shoes that’s good for your back, it’s not lugging around a spare pair of flats in your handbag, too. Have a think about it – your back and shoulders have probably been in tip-top condition since you ditched the heels, right?
6. You’ve worked out how to style flats and you’re happy with it
Once that lightbulb goes on and you figure out how to wear flats with the rest of your wardrobe (maybe it was discovering snazzy socks and turning up your jeans, or that smoking slippers go with literally everything), the world is your oyster. You deserve the chance to test out your new found knowledge with a brand new pair, and so do your feet.
7. Your dress size might change with that new year diet, but your shoe size won’t
Whether you’re about to lose weight with your new year fitness regime, or you’ve gained a few pounds over Christmas eating all the chocolate (I don’t even like chocolate that much but I’ve eaten a LOT of chocolate orange this week) even if your dress size changes, you’ll be very unlucky if your shoe size changes over your lifetime. Buying a pair of shoes is potentially a life-long investment. Go on…treat yourself!
Many brands showcased “hiking” boots this season (my favourites being from Penelope Chilvers, as illustrated by me in my book, above) but I do like going for actual proper walks and I would NEVER recommend wearing a beloved pair of Chilvers’ boots through a muddy field. And if you’re walking more than a couple of miles (yesterday Mr Brogue and I did around 8 miles on the Isle of Wight), a Wellington boot just isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise, so I wear made-for-purpose walking boots.
Now, my pair are so old, so muddy, and so deeply unstylish, that I couldn’t possibly show you a picture of them, so you’re getting a rare picture of my face instead. But I am in the market for a new pair, and I thought I’d share my findings with you lot, as judging from Instagram, you’ve all been doing a lot of country walks over the festive period too.
The key hiking-style features that the designer versions picked up on are the hook and eye lace holes, and contrast colour laces. This pair from Ecco ticks those boxes, and knowing Ecco will be incredibly comfortable, too (my mum has a pair she’s been hiking all over the Isle of Wight and beyond in for the last 8 years). They are made from yak leather (three times stronger than cow hide) and have a Gore-tex® lining, which means they are actually guaranteed to keep your feet dry.
I’ve been jealous of Mr Brogue’s Italian leather walking boots for AGES now, and I think this is the style I am going to invest in. That brown leather just looks so much more acceptable when you stop in a country pub for a pint, and actually looks pretty stylish with blue jeans. By all accounts, Brashers (top) are brilliant, but do take a fair bit of wearing in. I really like the way they look, though, so it might be worth the effort. With these and the Scarpa pair, I would switch the laces for a red or yellow pair with a black fleck for a little En Brogue touch. Both also have the waterproof guarantee of Gore-tex®. I think the pair I like the best, though, are the North Face boots (below), as they remind me of Sorel snow boots and I like that flash of yellow on the heel.
If you miss the brilliant sale prices above or they don’t have your size and you’re on a budget, try outdoor sports specialists Decathlon. Nothing in this shop is very expensive (I’ve bought countless pairs of skiing socks and tiny rucksacks in here for my snowboarding trips) and this pair is an absolute steal. They don’t come with that waterproof guarantee, but they’ve been tested and apparently keep your feet warm at as low as -19°C!
So…the sales are on and there are some REAL bargains to be had. And while these shoes might not be as expensive as the ones in yesterday’s post, I wouldn’t put anything on here that I didn’t think was a) stylish and b) good quality, and all of the brands featured here have a good track record as far as those things are concerned. I’ve included a couple of snazzy styles too, in case you’re looking for something special for New Year’s Eve…
Last weekend I went out with my friend Michelle and she was wearing a pair of glittery lace-ups from Dune. They looked amazing! I’ve featured them on the blog before and they’re in the sale (here) but they only have size 36s left, so this Dr Martens-style pair from Topshop makes a great alternative if you don’t have tiny feet. And you can’t argue with that price!
Ankle boots are always good to stock up on as they never go out of style. The & Other Stories boots are super chic, but they only have sizes 36 and 40 left. I’m a big fan of these Clarks Chelsea boots as an alternative though – love that red sole.
If glitter’s not your thing for a New Year’s Eve bash, try some snakeskin instead. Boots in a cut-out style are really versatile. They look great with black tights now, but will be nice and cool come summer time.
These Zara monks shoes have only been reduced by £10, but they weren’t exactly expensive in the first place and besides, I reckon they look like they cost a LOT more money. And finally, for those of you looking to snuggle up in the new year, how about these cosy lined desert boots from Boden? Lovely.