This is a blog for people who love stylish footwear without the pain, bunions and back problems. Just because a shoe doesn't have a 4.5 inch heel, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful. From brogues to boots, pumps to penny loafers, sneakers to sandals, I'd like to share with you my favourite comfortable footwear.
I am Hannah Rochell, Features Editor at fashion magazine InStyle in London, so I come across a lot of non-heeled beauties! I hope you enjoy reading about them.
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This months marks 50 years of the American sports brand K-Swiss (nope, it’s not from Switzerland!) and to celebrate, it’s launched a special collection of shoes called 50 Love.
K-Swiss shoes, like so many trainers, were first developed for use on the tennis court in 1966. In fact, they were the first American leather tennis shoes to make an appearance at Wimbledon (remember, adidas is German, whatever Kanye West might have you believe). The limited edition run features styles from the archives including the Classic VN, the retro-style Irving OG (which was actually first released relatively recently in 2010), and the pair I am wearing above, the 1996 Lozan III 50th. All are priced between £60 and £100 and all are white, so totally on trend as well as affordable.
Now, I admit, I had never owned a pair of K-Swiss sneakers until a few days ago, but I’m already totally sold. As well as that all-white factor (I am planning to wear a different pair of white trainers every day for London Fashion Week – watch this space for that – and these will definitely make up part of my repertoire) they are incredibly lightweight and comfortable. They have quite a wide fit too; plenty of space for thick socks in this cold weather. So Happy Birthday K-Swiss! I’m sorry it took me 50 years to discover you.
OK, so it’s the end of January. You had just recovered from Christmas, then I told you about amazing shoes that were in the sales, THEN HMRC hit you with your tax bill….so spending money on shoes isn’t exactly top of the agenda at the moment. But if your footwear feels a bit tired and you are hankering after some newness, I have just the thing for you: laces.
I wrote about laces AGES ago, but since then I’ve discovered some new, exciting places you can get them from (yes, I am the sort of person who gets excited by shoelaces), so I thought it was worth an extra post. Besides, that last one was back in 2012…
A snazzy new pair of shoelaces is just the ticket to revive a pair of shoes that you’ve had for years. If you get the right pair, your boots or brogues can even feel like a completely new pair of shoes, and they make trainers just look better all-round, whether they’re new or old (although do make sure they’re nice and clean). Winner. Here are some of my favourite places to get them (in addition to the places mentioned in that original post, which you can read here).
Ropes are the laces that inspired me to do this post. I stumbled across them at the tills in Offspring and I had to buy a pair. They’re chunky and bright and I LOVE them! They come in lots of different colours, and some pairs (like these above) have the added bonus of being reflective (safety first!). Circular styles like this, rather than flat laces, look particularly good in running styles, like my Nike Air Huaraches or something like a Nike Air Max, and high tops.
Regular readers of this blog will already know about Rogues (and in fact, may have recently entered a competition to win a pair). This brand focuses on really fun lace-ups that are inspired by trainers, so it fits with the aesthetic that they all come with optional laces so you can mix up your look. If you can’t afford to buy a pair right now though, you could invest in a set of three of pick n mix laces for just £5. They even come in a striped paper bag, just like sweets from an old-fashioned shop. How lovely!
I confess, I haven’t actually used Mr Lacy yet, but I plan to. And SOON. As well as a HUGE range of coloured laces, glow in the dark AND glow in the sun (I know, right?!) laces, two-tone laces and everything in-between, they sell some really interesting patterned laces. I particularly like the camouflage, leopard print and checkerboard styles – they’d all look really cool in a pair of plain white trainers or Converse (and you’ve all got at least one pair of those, I’m certain) as well as running styles. You can also search by shape (fatties, slimmies, ropies etc) which is a must for any sneaker connoisseurs. In fact, I challenge anyone to do a shopping spree on this website and not buy at least three pairs of laces! Prices vary depending on the style but they’re around £4 per pair, so pretty reasonable. Their Instagram account is also well worth following for sneakerspiration.
I’d love to see you wearing your coloured laces, so tweet me a picture to @EnBrogue or tag me on Instagram @EnBrogue. Go on people, pimp your plimsolls! (and brogues and boots…)
A new season brings with it a load of new shoes, and not many can claim to be as colourful as Rogues. Rogues is a fairly new shoe brand having only launched less that an year ago (read more about Rogues here) but its aesthetic is already pretty well established. The focus is not only on comfort, but on fun – so much so that you can even buy a paper bag of pick n mix laces from the website. How cool is that?
For SS16, the brand’s founder Katie told me that she has improved the design to be even more comfortable. “The last has been updated to accommodate a slightly wider foot whilst at the same time ensuring support and comfort for those with narrow feet” she said. “All shoes have silk effect laces and you get an additional black or white lace in each shoe box so that you can dress your Rogues fun or smart”. The lining is now made from calf, rather than pig skin (much softer) and there’s a new style with a suede upper and neolite sole (like leather, but waterproof and more durable) as well as the original sportier-style white EVA sole. On a personal note, I am thrilled to see the ‘pear drop’ in bright yellow because yellow shoes make me so happy (above), and I also love ‘jelly bean’ with its sleek black neolite sole (below). You can see the full totally gorgeous collection here.
To win a pair for yourself, simply head to my Instagram page – instagram.com/enbrogue – and repost my illustration of the ‘pear drop’ shoes with the hashtag #EnBroguegoesRogue. Be sure that you’re following both @EnBrogue and @Rogues_UK and tag us both in the picture. Oh, and you must live in the UK to be eligible to enter.
The closing date is next Saturday January 23rd at 11:59pm, and I’ll get Mr Brogue to pick one winner at random the following day. Good luck!
OK, you got me – this post is just an elaborate excuse to show some cute pictures of my miniature schnauzer puppy Grenson! But in all seriousness, since we got him 6 weeks ago, there have been a handful of shoes that I just couldn’t have done without. Forget the Dior Fusions and suede adidas Jamaicas: here are the essential shoes – as well as the obligatory Hunter wellies I’m wearing above – that you need to own if you’re thinking of getting a puppy.
A pair of clogs
I didn’t realise just how long it is before you can take your puppy for a walk (you have to wait a week after their second set of jabs from the vet, which made Grenson 14 and a half weeks old) – the result of this is that you have to go out in the garden a lot (toilet training a puppy is exhausting!), so you need some shoes that not only slip on and off easily, but are waterproof. I would say that my Birkenstock Boston clogs are perfect, but I know that they also come with a sheepskin lining so I’m lusting after those now!
A pair of ankle length wellies
I have long been a fan of short Wellington boots – or anklingtons as I like to call them – but I’ve never needed them as much as I do now. They are so much easier to put on that a tall pair of wellies, and are also much easier to make look nice with the rest of your outfit. I love Ilse Jacobsen wellies; I have two pairs and they’re just about as chic as a wellie gets. Don’t be fooled by the laces either – you don’t need to undo them to put them on and take them off. And believe me, when you arrive home with a muddy puppy who has been rolling around play fighting with an Airedale terrier, you need to get your mucky boots off and throw him in the bath as quickly as you can!
A pair of sheepskin lined boots
For dry days, I love my Eva boots from Seven Boot Lane. I’m lucky enough to have a personalised pair with yellow zips, but the style they have online now is virtually identical. The reason I like these so much is the sheepskin lining – it means when you roll out of bed to take the dog for his morning walk, you don’t even need to worry about putting on your socks. Oh, and they’re really comfortable and looks pretty damn stylish too.
If you want to read more about what Grenson has been up to, check out Mr Brogue’s new blog – Man About A Dog Blog – all about where to eat, drink, stay and play with your four legged friend!
Yesterday I brought you my favourite shoes that are currently in the sales, but today is all about newness. These shoes are all new in store or online, and in comparison to the sales picks which were all investment buys (i.e. quite expensive but worth it in the long run), these are a quick fix to give your wardrobe a new year boost. And the best bit? All come in at £100 or less. Because sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to get you through January…
I can’t say enough good things about the incredibly stylish, super-comfortable Clarks’ Trigenic Flex trainers. I have a pair in grey felt which are still available at The Natural Shoe Store, but this blush pink is brand new and I love it (which is saying something because I usually hate pink things). It’s also worth mentioning that the original white Trigenics are back in stock – snap them up while you can, they always sell out.
Zara is always my first port of call when I feel the need for some retail therapy but I don’t want to spend too much money. At under £30, don’t expect these shoes to be made of leather (they’re not, I checked) or to last a particularly long time, but I think they’re pretty snazzy and will pep up your work outfit a treat.
I love the style of casual boots around at the moment that have a sporty feel to them but are smarter than high-top trainers. These from Topshop would look great with a pair of statement socks showing through those cut-out sections.
Luxe trainers really aren’t going anyway, and I like the way this pair from Dune is kind of minimal in design, but at the same time has luxurious touches in the fabrics used. I also really appreciate the elastic vamp in place of laces #lazy
More trainers, this time from & Other Stories. I really gravitate towards anything grey at the moment, but grey shoes are surprisingly thin on the ground. This chic smoky suede is very now, and can be dressed up or down.
Like the Zara loafers, these ASOS pumps shouldn’t be something you expect to have in your wardrobe for years (guys, they’re only £22: they’re not exactly built to last). But they’re very sweet indeed and practical too, as can be worn with black opaque tights. It’s always tricky to find flats that work with black opaques.
So there you have it – I hope between this post and yesterday’s sales guide I’ve catered for everyone who feels the need to do a bit of shoe shopping!
Oh HELLO old friends! Did you miss me? I took the liberty of having an actual Christmas break where I didn’t even turn on the computer for about a week but I am back! And what better way to see in the new year than doing a bit of shopping? In the first of two posts where I will be encouraging you to reach for your credit cards (sorry!), I’m looking at my favourite shoes currently available in the sales, and offering a bit of advice to boot.
Now, for me, shopping in the sales isn’t about picking up shoes that weren’t particularly expensive in the first place. Rather, it’s about making an investment buy, and perhaps getting a pair of shoes you saw at the beginning of the season but couldn’t afford at the time. Given that you’ve been lusting after them for four months and there’s now 40% or so off, I reckon you can definitely justify splashing out for that special pair. And your special pair should fall into one of two categories: 1) incredible useful shoes that you will get a good cost-per-wear out of and 2) incredibly beautiful shoes that you adore, even if they’re a bit bonkers and you won’t wear them that often. So read on for some of the best shoes in the sale at some of my favourite stores right now.
Grenson: the useful shoes
My Grenson Alice boots are some of the hardest working shoes in my wardrobe. Mine are black with a classic Grenson white sole, but I love these with a black sole too. These boots are really versatile; I’ve worn them with everything from midi-length skirts and bare legs in the summer, to leather trousers and sheepskin insoles in coldest Copenhagen. The Vibram sole provides excellent grip in rain and snow (it was two foot deep in Copenhagen) and they are really hard-wearing, too (I’ve had mine for around 3 years). A no-brainer.
Grenson: the beautiful shoes
Metallic shoes are still going to be hot next season, so are a great thing to pick up in the sales. They are also my go-to for weddings and special occasions, as well as pointy pumps (see below). Rose is a more formal shoe than Alice, so takes a little more wearing in, but is drop-dead gorgeous so totally worth the effort.
Northern Cobbler: the useful shoes
White trainers are another trend that is simply going nowhere. In fact, for summer it will be bigger than ever. And as much as I love adidas Stan Smiths, I’ve been seeking out less obvious white trainer styles, particularly since I spotted highly preened fashion editors teaming Stans with furs at Paris fashion week. This particle pair from Northern Cobbler is a favourite of mine and features in my book (En Brogue: The Trainers Guide). I love that they are unbranded, it just looks so much more cool.
Northern Cobbler: the beautiful shoes
Another metallic pair for you, but these have a crepe sole! And you all know how much I love a crepe sole. You just can’t beat it for comfort. These shoes bridge the gap between snazzy and casual, so would work really well with simple outfits like jeans and a sweater, but you could easily wear them with a black dress for an evening out, too.
Shoescribe: the useful shoes
The shoescribe.com sale is, in my opinion, one of the best. There’s loads of choice but the edit is really good and you can search by heel height as well as by price. I also love that there are so many niche brands on there that you just don’t see anywhere else, like this very pair that I’ve chosen as my useful pick. Not only will a black patent leather ankle boot be eternally chic, but there’s over 60% off this pair, so they’re practical in a financial sense too. Winner.
Shoescribe: the beautiful shoes
I am practically weeping as I write this because these AH-MAZING Christopher Kane shoes aren’t available in my size, although I am tempted to buy them a half size too big and stuff the toes with cotton wool! There are plenty of other sizes available but at this price (60% off) I don’t expect them to hang about. Christopher Kane is one of the best London designers around, and these feature his signature safety clasp detail, which makes them a design classic and a great investment. Plus they’re dead nice and would go with pretty much any outfit. Sob!
Matches: the useful shoes
I do harp on about how you all need a pair of pointy pumps in your repertoire don’t I? But that’s because it’s true! I have two fall-back pairs – one black, one black and leopard print – and I don’t know where I would be without them. Neither were cheap either, because I think with this style of shoe you can really tell if it’s not made of leather, plus a less sturdy shoe will start to turn up on that pointy toe in no time, and no-one wants to look like an elf, especially now it’s not Christmas anymore. So while I know the sale price of these is still not all that cheap, remember that these are your special occasion shoes; the shoes you will be wearing to weddings and parties for years to come. They need to see you through long nights on the dance floor! So it might be worth looking past that cheap leather-look pair in Zara…
Matches: the beautiful shoes
Another not-so-cheap pair here, but I make no apologies for that (see introduction!). The only time I ever treat myself to designer shoes is when they are in the sale (or I am at Bicester Village). This pair have a similar vibe to a pair of boots I have by the same designer, Nicholas Kirkwood, which I love. The fact that they’re monochrome makes them really versatile, but they’ve still got bags of wow factor, meaning they pep up any outfit. They also have a comfy rubber sole as a bonus.
Penelope Chilvers: the useful shoes
Bubbling under the surface at the moment is a trend for these Wallabee-style shoes. Of course, you could get yours from Clarks, or you could head to Penelope Chilvers for something a bit different instead (it’s worth noting that there are some smashing men’s ones too, which I am sad don’t come in ladies’ sizes but might be worth mentioning to the man in your life). It’s actually not easy to find navy shoes, but they’re very handy if you can find a pair as they’re a less harsh option than black.
Penelope Chilvers: the beautiful shoes
Is there anything more fancy than a pair of velvet smoking slippers emblazoned with palm trees? Probably not. But you’d be surprised how easy these are to wear (check out Alex from The Frugality in her similar pair, for example) – I’d pair them with tatty ripped jeans and bare ankles.
Check back tomorrow when I’ll be picking my favourite NEW season styles. Oh, and happy new year!
This week has been a bit mental with Star Wars stuff. I am a HUGE fan, so I was thrilled to go to the European screening on Tuesday ahead of the UK premiere, making me one of the first people in the WHOLE WORLD to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucky me! You’ve probably noticed that pretty much every brand that exists has brought out some kind of Star Wars merchandise, but a lot of it is awful, particularly the shoes (please PLEASE don’t make me look at those Irregular Choice ones again!). But the Birkenstocks? THESE I can handle.
OK, I know they’re not for everyone, but I had to get Star Wars on this blog in one form or another, and this seemed like the best way. They’re quite subtle, and obviously very comfortable. Sadly the black Arizonas (top) have sold out already but you can still get large sizes of the comic strip ones (above). Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, I’m rather fond of these Havaianas too, actually.
But back to Birkenstock. The main news that I’m excited about this week is that they are bringing out trainers! You won’t be able to get your hands on them until next year as they are from the summer 2016 collection, but they very kindly let me borrow a pair this week to try out for myself. And here they are!
If you love Birkenstock, I think you’ll love these. They have the same contoured footbed and are nice and wide (I know lots of you like Birkenstock for this very reason). The cut-out sections are a nice touch, as are the double buckles that echo your favourite pair of Arizona sandals. As well as the chalky white you see here, they will be available in black, too. The only downside is that they’re not cheap at just over £200. But I doubt that will stop them being a huge success…
Even if it never gets properly cold this winter, I’m still going to be wearing my favourite cosy boots over the festive season. Because if you can’t wear a lovely pair of shearling lined boots at Christmas, when can you wear them?! I can just imagine me, Mr Brogue and Grenson (our miniature schnauzer puppy) strolling along the beach on the Isle of Wight on Boxing Day, the dog in his new tweed jacket (if Mr Brogue lets me dress him up) and me in my new Sorel boots which I have been referring to as my ‘dog walking boots’.
I’ve wanted a pair of Sorel boots for AGES now, because my friend Holly has had a pair for years and I’m always jealous when we meet up at a country pub and she’s wearing them. They just look so cool! We often go on skiing holidays together and she wears them there too; they’re warm enough and sturdy enough to withstand the snow and ice in the French Alps. I’ve finally got around to getting some – they’re an exclusive design in collaboration with Matches, where you can also buy lots of different styles of Sorel boots as well as these limited edition ones. They might seem a bit expensive but Holly is living breathing proof that they really do last for ages so make a good investment, especially if you spend a lot of time walking outdoors. They come up a little snug, so you might want to go up a size, although I wear my usual size in them (I’m on the small side of a 4). Don’t worry about leaving space for thick socks – you won’t need them.
So those are my new boots. But I’ll also be digging out a few old pairs as well. I’ve had some Penelope Chilvers shearling Safari boots for about 4 years now and they’re a winner if you want to look warm and smart. Mine still look good as new after all this time. I wouldn’t wear them on a country walk because they’re suede with a crepe sole (sometimes a crepe sole can be a bit slippery) but they’re perfect for that trip to see the inlaws or an afternoon in a traditional pub with a cold stone floor. My olive green ones aren’t available anymore but I love the black and tan versions you can get now. Wear with turned up skinny cords and no socks (they’re designed to be worn with bare feet).
Last, my retro option is from Palladium, a brand I always loved as a child because it’s what all the cool older kids wore on the French campsites we holidayed at. As with the other boots, these come with a wool lining to keep your feet toasty, but are as casual as your Converse so easy to style up with your normal clothes (which can’t be said for wellies!). They’re also waterproof.
And finally, a word of warning for those of you who are shouting at your screens saying you could get the same thing for much cheaper on the high street. With the exception of the Sorel boots (which don’t need it because they have a stacked sole and are really well insulated), these boots have that snuggly lining all the way to the toe and on the insole of the shoe. And THAT’S what keeps your feet warm. Cheaper version often just have a furry trim, and a lining that isn’t real wool or shearling (manmade fibres might keep you warm, but also might make your feet smell). Unless you actually feel the inside of the shoes you can’t tell where the lining ends so when buying other options, I’d recommend going in person so you know what you’re getting. But I can tell you from personal experience that the boots featured here do the job. Yay!
What’s that? ANOTHER competition for you? YES! You heard right. This time it’s the lovely people at Vagabond that I’ve teamed up with for a give-away. But this is one with a difference…
To enter, you’re going to need to get creative, because Vagabond would like you to design your dream pair of trainers. Don’t panic if you’re not a designer by trade though – it’s the ideas we’re interested in rather than your artistic skills! Simply take a snap of your sketch and upload it to Twitter or Instagram to be in with a chance of winning a pair of shoes and a signed copy of my book. And if you’re not familiar with Vagabond, you can read all about them in the book (extract below) – I’m wearing a pair of Kasai trainers in there which are lovely. Super lightweight and really stylish too.
You can enter from RIGHT NOW until midnight on Friday 18th of December, so plenty of time to get busy with your pens and pencils. Don’t forget to include the tags @vagabondshoes @enbrogue @saltyardbooks #thetrainersguide. You can read the full terms and conditions here. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with! Good luck!
Winter sun holidays are a new thing to me, but Mr Brogue and I went to Mexico a few weeks ago and I realised that it’s really weird to go somewhere hot when everything in the shops is catering for wind, rain and snow. I know loads of people who are jetting off to warmer climes on Boxing Day this year, so if you’ve booked yourself a well-deserved holiday to escape the gloom and doom, chances are you’ll want to treat yourself to something new to wear on your feet.
The trick – and this applies to bikinis and swimwear – is to NOT head to the high street; think about brands that specialise in all things beach-related and you’ll strike gold. Here are some of my favourites…
OK, I admit, the pairs Mr Brogue and I are wearing here were free (!!) – we stayed at a place called Hotel Esencia in Mexico and they give you a free pair of Havaianas in your room TO KEEP! I mean, is that my perfect hotel or what?! But of course because this is a brand that specialises in flip flops, you can easily get yourself a new pair whatever the weather in the UK. I prefer the classic styles (above) and the ‘light’ style (below) with their slightly narrower thong in plain colours rather than anything too garish. Oh, and good tip – they also sell espadrilles!
Speaking of espadrilles, how lovely are these? They’re from Heidi Klein, a brand that ONLY sells stuff for holidays. They’re a bit of a special purchase at £110, but rest assured they’re snazzier than your average espadrille, with a sturdy rubber sole, textured design AND the opportunity to monogram them with your initials. They’re quite snug so I would advise going up a size.
Teva sandals are brilliant in so many ways. They’re particularly good if you’re going on a holiday where you’ll need to walk or do activities because they’re firmly Velcroed on to your feet! Here I am making friends with an iguana at some ancient Mayan ruins, for example. The choice available is vast and they just so happen to be really on trend at the moment (Margaret Howell showed the majority of her SS16 catwalk collection with them). Oh, and they’re VERY comfortable and great to wear in the rain.
Ancient Greek Sandals
The first thing I always pack for a holiday are my Ancient Greek Sandals. Reasons I love them? Well, they’re incredibly chic with their simple leather design, so work for day and evening (versatile). If you’re going to lug some shoes half way across the world you want them to work hard for you! They’re slim and lightweight, so don’t take up much space in your suitcase – while I LOVE Birkenstocks, they’re very bulky, so I often just bring one pair and wear them on the plane with socks. Oh, and they’re absolutely worth the money – I’ve had mine for years and they just get better and better with age. A good place to get them is Matches as it’s UK based (the brand, as the name suggests, is Greek).
I’ll be jealous, but I’d love to see what you wore on your winter sun holidays. Tweet me pictures of your feet to @enbrogue!