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monochrome dreams…

Not all fashion inspiration comes from the catwalk. After I stumbled across this wonderful picture of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth, I was admiring both pairs of shoes, and it got me thinking about just how great two-tone monochrome shoes are. I have a couple of pairs myself, and there are so many great things about them. They go with everything. They’re eternally chic. They never go out of style. And they might make you want to break out into a tap dance.

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So…here are a few of my favourite monochrome shoes available right now. I’ve included loads of different styles – from sandals to winkle pickers – but they all tick that black and white box. Happy shopping!

Zara
patent toe bluchers, £39.99, zara.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Stories
slingbacks, £65, stories.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Finery
Amersham leather slides, £45, finerylondon.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Clarks
Taylor Palm T-bars, £45, clarks.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
YMC
Solovair tassel loafers, £225, youmustcreate.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Swear
Olly 18 sneakers, £135, swear-london.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Senso
Isa slider, £130 by Senso at danielfootwear.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Ronnie Northampton: beautiful boyish shoes for girls, handmade to order

You might remember back in November I told you about Ronnie Northampton, a fledgling shoe company that was using Kickstarter to raise enough funds to launch its brand. And I’m happy to tell you that yesterday, the website went live for the first time. Congratulations to the brand’s brainchild, Kirsty Ronnie, whose passion for hand making beautiful shoes in the UK has won out. Yay!

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Joycee double strap monk, £349, ronnie-northampton.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

What I love about Ronnie Northampton, other than those AMAZING designs, is that Kirsty is using the same thinking that a lot of us apply to food these days: keep it local. By sourcing materials locally and making her shoes in Northampton, she’s playing her part in preserving skills and traditions that this country is so good at. So while I’m eating my freshly caught mackerel and tucking into some beautiful Isle of Wight cherry tomatoes, I can be confident that the shoes on my feet weren’t mass produced in a factory on the other side of the world either. Rather, they were hand-made to order by a skilled crafts person in the shoe making capital of Britain.

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Miriam tassel loafer, £349, ronnie-northampton.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

Anyway, on to those shoes. They’re all based on traditional masculine styles but have a quirky feminine twist. Take the Miriam for example; on the face of it, a smart black loafer, but look closer and you’ll notice that it has FOUR tassels, rather than the usual two. Or the Minnie, a Derby with a contrasting silver T-bar inlaid into the toe cap. These are shoes that will get you noticed and get people talking, and anyone who knows anything about shoes will want to know where you got them!

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Nelly Oxford, £349, ronnie-northampton.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

To see the full range, head to the Ronnie Northampton website.

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15% off at Seven Boot Lane with En Brogue

Another season, and it’s time for another En Brogue reader offer with Seven Boot Lane. I’ve been a fan of this brand since it was brand new, and it’s been wonderful to watch it grow and evolve. I think this season is the best yet, with some very exciting new styles on offer. This is another of those brands firmly focused on comfort and quality; the first pair of boots I tried were so incredibly comfortable it really was like wearing slippers. Plus they made that reassuring loud ‘click-clack’ when I walked that always means you’ve got some quality clobber on your feet.

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Anyway, if that’s got you interested then the good news is that you can get 15% off if you buy online using the special En Brogue reader offer code until April 30th. Good, eh? My new season style are the pair of leopard print lace-ups shown in the illustration, but there are loads more on offer too. To tempt you, scroll down…

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Dakota, £120 – £102 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

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Dakota, £120 – £102 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

 

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Drew, £90 – £76.50 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

 

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Banjo, £120 – £102 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

 

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Dixie, £100 – £85 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

 

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Daphne, £120 – £102 with En Brogue discount – sevenbootlane.com (BUY ME HERE!)

So hurry! You’ve only got until April 30th to nab yourself a pair with the discount! To get your 15% off, simply enter the code ENBROGUESS15 when you check out. And I’d love to see what you get – tweet or Instagram a picture of your new shoes to @EnBrogue with the hashtag #EnBrogueXSevenBootLane so I can keep track!

Next season now: I’ve just seen Grenson’s AW15 collection and it’s AMAZING…

The joy of being fashion features editor at InStyle is that I get to see next season’s collections well in advance. So even though we haven’t actually got to the point of ditching our winter wardrobes yet, I’m thinking about the time that we get them back out again. I know, confusing.

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The best bit is that I can give you a heads up as to what you can start saving up for RIGHT NOW – because once you’ve seen what Grenson’s got on offer, you’ll want to do exactly that.

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As far as favourite styles are concerned, I’m torn between these tassel loafers (above) that look a bit like a formal leather skate shoe with those elastic gussets, and the monkey boots (below) which are a totally new style for Grenson. In both cases, I have no idea whether I prefer the tan or the white. It’s just too hard to decide!!

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Add to that some old favourites like the ever-popular Emily brogue in new metallic finishes and some amazing triple welts (bottom) and you’re totally spoilt for choice. Bring on the autumn!

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Investment shoes: why it’s worth it, and what’s on offer for the new season

I admit it. I am partial to an investment shoe. Some of my very favourite brands aren’t exactly cheap, but they make beautiful footwear of an amazing quality and with brilliant design, and that’s why I love them so much. So when the new season styles start to trickle on to their websites, it’s time to get really, REALLY excited. The brands I’ve included in this new season round-up all fall into the investment shoe category. They’re not MEGA expensive, but you’ll probably need to save up to buy a pair, and I hope that my endorsement of them will be helpful and reassuring if you’re thinking of doing that. They’re brands that I’ve been wearing for years and that I’ve always found to be incredibly comfortable, as well as durable. Oh, and they just so happen to make designs that actually make my heart race!

Penelope Chilvers

What I love about this brand is the celebration of colour and print that you can always find. As I write this I’m wearing an old favourite pair of Penelope Chilvers desert boots in blue velvet, and I have another pair in an orange and blue tile print – they’re shoes to wear when you’re feeling happy. This season I’m loving the Jungle boot in a variety of prints – a sort of chukka-trainer hybrid – and the pool slide espadrilles.

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Jungle Maun Needlepoint boots, £229, penelopechilvers.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Pool Sandal Pony, £169, penelopechilvers.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Northern Cobbler

This little company is based in Northampton – the shoe-making capital of Britain – and only has a couple of new styles so far this season, choosing instead to continue some old favourites like its ‘Nibblefish’ fisherman’s shoes and ‘Platy’ fringed sandals (plus keep your eyes peeled for the trainers which drop online in a few weeks). ‘Cavefish’ is an eternally chic monochrome style, and you can’t get much more summery than the gorgeous two-tone ‘Damselfish’ loafers. Swoon.

Northern Cobbler 1
Cavefish, £210, northerncobbler.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Northern Cobbler 2
Damselfish, £210, northerncobbler.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Folk

I think that when you’re into flat shoes, it goes hand-in-hand that you shop at places that do his-and-hers stuff. Grenson, Northern Cobbler, Fred Perry and Folk are all places that Mr Brogue and I shop at together, and Folk’s shoes are REALLY lovely – they’re incredibly comfortable and the unusual yet subtle designs are an absolute winner. These Lore sandals do have a micro-wedge, but it’s so minimal that I will let it pass! And I love the look of these silver sneakers. It’s worth looking at the clothing while you’re there; if you’re a fan of colour and print with lashings of navy and grey, then I think you’ll like it.

Folk sandals
Lore, £240, folkclothing.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Folk silver
Isa, £195, folkclothing.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Grenson

Well, you don’t think that Grenson WOULDN’T feature on here, did you? I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve recommended this brand to who have since become complete addicts. My editor at InStyle – a previous lover of chunky high heels – is a total convert since I got her to wear a bright yellow pair of brogues over fashion week. When I was writing my book I really fancied getting a pair of saddle shoes but I couldn’t find any, so I was delighted when  I saw ‘Peggy’ at Grenson’s press day a few months ago. I promptly ordered myself a pair in yellow and white (they are also available in blue and white) and I can’t wait for them to arrive. I’m also pleased to see some old favourites – like ‘Emily’ – in new, exciting colours (more yellow!) and the new ‘Carrie’ with removable kiltie, which is a reworking of an old style that just so happened to be my first ever pair of Grensons.

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Peggy, £225, grenson.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
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Carrie, £225, grenson.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

If you’re investing in a special pair of shoes I’d love to hear about it! Tweet me a picture of your new shoes to @EnBrogue with the hashtag #newshoes.

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New brand alert: Meandher

It seems not a week passes when I don’t hear about a new brand that specialises in flat shoes, and this one’s an absolute corker. Meander, the brainchild of Emily Cooper (who also happens to be bezzies with Poppy Delevingne, who models the shoes), has just launched in the UK exclusively in Selfridges, and the collection is LOVELY. Sienna Miller and Emma Watson are also already fans of these butter-soft, masculine shoes, and now the brand has a fan in me, too.

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There’s a strong emphasis on using great materials in interesting finishes (loads of metallics for those of you who love a snazzy shoe) and they come up nice and petite, so are very flattering on the foot if you like a more feminine look than I sometimes parade around in on this blog! Plus they’re an absolute dream to style with your existing wardrobe. Turned up jeans for those lace-ups, printed trouser for the moccasins and yes, I even sanction the use of a sock with a sandal. Well, it’s not summer YET, girls.

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Prices start at £175 and they’re available exclusively in store at Selfridges.

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Look down! One of the many reasons I love Paris…the tiles…

I really was spoilt for choice as far as tiles were concerned in Paris, so as well as always looking up (the InStyle team travelled around in a Peugeot with a glass roof which was AMAZING for looking at the Paris skyline), I spent a lot of my time looking down. Here are some of my favourite floors from the French capital.

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Starry floor and adidas Originals Superstars

 

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the tiles in the loo at a favourite fashion haunt, Hotel Coste

 

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inside the magnificent Opera for the Stella McCartney show, and Grenson shoes (obvs)

 

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amazing old tiles at the Maison Margiela showroom

 

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more from inside Opera

 

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loved this marble parquet at the Celine showroom

 

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Not actual tiles, but the catwalk at Chanel

 

 

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Next season now: my favourite flats from Paris

Travelling to fashion week with InStyle means I get to have a sneak peak at next season’s shoe styles. OK, I know you’re all really excited that it’s finally bare ankles weather and you’re thinking about booking in your first pedicure of the year, but here’s a round-up of some of the best flats you’ve got to look forward to come autumn.

Balenciaga

Favourite flats of the week go to these absolute beauts from Balenciaga. There’s a trend for this scuba sock-style for next season (also seen on flat boots in Milan at Prada, as well as some heeled styles elsewhere) and I love it. The grey and red pair are my favourites – I might have to start saving up right now…

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Nicholas Kirkwood

One of my favourite shoe brands (you’ll see loads of shoes on the high street that take inspiration from his collections) is Nicholas Kirkwood. His designs are always so imaginative and fun, and usually with a geometric design thrown in for good measure.

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Valentino

Here’s a brand that knows how to do evening flats. Its Rockstuds are a favourite and have been around for years (top), but I also love the variation on the theme where the studs have been replaced by holes (bottom). A slightly more feminine take on the idea, and what a gorgeous colour combo.

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Maison Margiela

Hairy – or sadly, furry – shoes are a MASSIVE trend for next season. That’s fur on the outside of the shoe, not even on the inside keeping your feet warm! I don’t wear fur so that trend isn’t one I’ll be embracing, but these ones are actually goat hair and as goat is a by-product they’re OK by me. A bit mental but kind of fun! And I expect the high street will follow suit with faux fur – and therefore more affordable – versions.

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Robert Clergerie

And finally…the award for most amazing kiltie ever goes to…..Robert Clergerie! I’d love to know what you’re favourites are – leave your comments below…

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Paris fashion week: what I wore

So I’ve just got back from my stint at Paris fashion week with Team InStyle and I was there for EIGHT DAYS. Hence the lack of posts here on the blog. I’m not going to lie, it was brilliant. Paris is such a beautiful city that it’s hard to complain about being away from home for a week with all that wine, cheese and the amazing views…but I’m obviously thrilled to be reunited with Mr Brogue.

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Happy to have arrived! Coat, Levi’s; top, Marni; jeans, Paige; clutch, Coach; boots, Nicholas Kirkwood

Anyway, here is a little round-up of some of the outfits I wore while I was there. We were treated to some beautiful spring weather which made dressing prettying easy going. Although I only had space for four pairs of shoes, which was a little upsetting. So I bought a new pair of Bata plimsolls (€21 – bargain! You know how I love my cheap French plimsolls…).

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Check out the beautiful parquet flooring in our InStyle Air BNB apartment! Sleeveless coat, Katherine Walker; top, Bimba Y Lola; trousers, Zara; watch, Larsson and Jennings; socks, MM6; trainers, adidas
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I met Diane von Furstenberg on this day and she held my hand and told me she loved my outfit! “I love British women because they wear colour”, she said. Well, I certainly do that! Coat, Marni; sweater, Y.M.C.; skirt, Bimba Y Lola; clutch, Lulu Guinness; sunglasses, Stella McCartney; shoes, Nicholas Kirkwood
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Who says you have to dress up for fashion week? This was my casual Sunday outfit. Jumper, Alexander Lewis; trousers, Marni; clutch, Coach; trainers, adidas
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Some might argue that I wear too much yellow….sleeveless jacket, Katherine Hooker; top, Bimba Y Lola; skirt, Mint Velvet; bag, Milli Millu; socks, Topshop; shoes, Grenson
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At the Chanel show, where the whole of the Grand Palais was transformed into a brasserie (with pain au chocolat and everything!). Jacket, Levi’s; roll neck, Gap; top, Bimba Y Lola; bag, Lulu Guinness; socks, Happy Socks; trainers, adidas

 

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Last day sunshine! Top, Fred Perry; vintage CT jeans, Levi’s; sunglasses, Stella McCartney; socks, Happy Socks; shoes, Grenson

Check back tomorrow for some of the best flat shoes I saw for next season while I was in Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

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Like the shoes on my book cover? You need to check out Fratelli Rossetti

Deciding which shoes to put on the cover of my book was a surprisingly easy choice. This pair of two-tone tassel loafers are so charming, and such a joy to paint, that they were a clear winner.

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The shoes in question are from an Italian brand called Fratelli Rossetti and are made of the softest leather, making them incredibly comfortable. They never fail to attract compliments when I wear them – including from the fashion designer Osman Yousefzada – so I thought it was about time we had a closer look at the brand.

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While I was away at Milan fashion week with my job at InStyle, I had a spare half hour to pop into the flagship Fratelli Rossetti store. They are currently running a campaign called #SEXYINFLATS to promote the ‘Candies’ range of brightly coloured Oxford lace-ups. Again, these are made from such soft leather that you can’t imagine anyone ever finding them uncomfortable, and there’s a colour to suit everyone. I had my picture taken in the in-store photo studio wearing a pair in bright yellow (they matched my socks).

FR1
£280, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)

 

FR2
£280, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)

The shoes one my book cover are still available but in different colours, including a slightly softer green and an on-trend lilac. You’ll also find some lace-less brogues in a similar, slim-fit and plenty of yellow styles – yellow is going to be big news in shoes next season.

FR3
£280, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)
FR4
£270, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)
FR5
£320, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)
FR6
£320, fratellirossetti.com (BUY ME HERE!)

You can buy my book – En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels. – here.