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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It’s a week until Christmas Eve! Which has me thinking about my Christmas Day outfit already (I know, I know – but I like to forward plan!). And other than the actual slippers that you’ll no doubt be given and have to wear at some point (hopefully from Mahabis or UGG – my favourite slippers) I reckon you can’t go wrong with a pair of smoking slippers on Christmas Day. Why? For starters, they often come in snazzy festive materials like velvet, pony skin or metallics. They’re slip-on, slip-off, so perfect to kick off in the evening when you all settle down to watch the Eastenders Christmas special/play the Pointless board game/sleep off the turkey. And best of all, they go with absolutely everything from an LBD to boyfriend jeans. Here’s my pick of the best if you fancy treating yourself this week, though do check delivery options if you really need these by Christmas Day – otherwise, I suggest some good old fashioned in person shopping in an actual shop…
I’m not quite at the point where I can manufacture my own Christmas cards just yet (hopefully by next year!) but here’s the next best thing. Simply download this PDF from the link below and you can print your own En Brogue Christmas cards! I recommend a stiff white card to print on, then simply trim to the black marker lines et voila! The perfect Christmas card for brogue lovers and snazzy sock wearers everywhere. Oh, and if you were wondering, that’s my Grenson Emily Oxfords making a star appearance on the card.
I’ve loved picking up fashion from the continent since I was a kid (I had a fine collection of fluorescent bracelets from French markets when I was 11 that was the envy of all my school friends) so I was thrilled to stumble across French brand Anne Thomas recently. What I love about buying abroad is that you’re so unlikely to ever see anyone else wearing the same thing when you get home, and Anne Thomas isn’t currently stocked in the UK (though it will be stocked in KJ’s Laundry in Marylebone in the summer – #winning).
There are no heels in this collection at all, just lovely flats. All are slightly unusual but in a totally wearable way. My boots are a wallabee-style in soft, sturdy leather with a bouncy rubber sole. As far as comfort goes, these are an absolute dream. Anne herself was originally known as a ceramics designer before she branched out into jewellery and accessories, and I think this shows in her attention to detail like the asymmetric zip on the Boston boots below.
Although they’re quite hard to get hold of at the moment, you can buy online at placedestendances.com who ship to the UK, or if you happen to be in Paris pop into Galeries Lafayatte who also stock the brand (for a full list of stockists, click here). It’s well worth the effort I reckon – these are the sorts of shoes people will stop you in the street and ask you about!
Party season: a phrase that fills girls who hate sparkly dresses and heels with dread. I for one would much rather just sling on my best jeans, a cashmere sweater and a slick of eyeliner when I’m off to a mulled wine gathering. But, as you know, I am partial to a snazzy pair of shoes, so will sanction the use of metallics and glitter when it’s confined to a place you wouldn’t expect to see it, like a masculine pair of shoes. This Christmas I’m motioning for tomboys everywhere to buck the dress code and invest in a pair of amazing silver masculine shoes to wear with whatever the hell you like. Because when your feet are this well dressed, no-one cares what the rest of your outfit looks like.
I’d love to see what party shoes you’re wearing this festive season – don’t forget to tweet me pictures of your feet to @EnBrogue.
(NB: regular readers – you might want to leave this post accidentally open on the home computer…)
Hi boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/brothers/sons/dads and anyone else who is stumped on what Christmas present to buy the girl in their life who loves flat shoes! *waves*
Now, I know that what you REALLY want to do is buy her that gorgeous pair of Grenson shoes she’s been going on about ALL YEAR. But you can’t afford it and slippers from Primark just won’t do will they? So I’ve put together a list of stocking fillers that will set you back no more than £20 while still showing that you’ve been paying attention to what she likes. You’re welcome.
1. A pair of snazzy socks
If she’s into her brogues, chances are she’s also partial to a snazzy pair of socks. Happy Socks (designed in Sweden – totally cool) has a MASSIVE choice, with everything from multi-coloured leopard print to classic Argyle. There’s literally something for everyone.
2. A shoe care kit
For the most part, you’ll find these in the ‘for him’ sections in stores. Why retailers think that women don’t need to clean their shoes I don’t know. Anyway, this one is cheap enough to a) add a suede brush (essential – John Lewis has one for only £3.50 here) and b) put it all in a more appealing bag. Or you could just cover a shoe box in Liberty print wrapping paper and pop it all in there. Job done.
3. Sheepskin insoles
These tick so many boxes it’s a no brainer. They’re a designer label, but nice and affordable. They transform a pair of shoes or wellies she already owns, so you don’t need to buy actual shoes. And I can tell you, because I have some, that they are AMAZING and keep your feet really warm. You might want to get a pair for yourself while you’re there…
4. A pair of shoe trees
Anyone who cares about their shoes wants to keep them in good condition, and these shoe trees stop soft leather shoes losing their shape when they’re not being worn. Extra marks if you can find some vintage ones as the wood is so much more beautiful – try eBay and junk stores.
5. A book about stylish flat shoes
*shameless self-promotion face* So….I just so happen to have written a book about stylish flat shoes that’s the PERFECT Christmas gift for your shoe-loving girl. It’s only £10 and it’s small enough to fit into a stocking! It’s full of interesting facts about shoes (did you know the Nike Air Max is modelled on the Pompidou Centre in Paris?) as well as my illustrations and photos of loads of lovely shoes. I reckon she’ll LOVE it.
I know you lot love Clarks, so I thought you’d like a sneak peak at some of the styles on offer for next season (yes, we magazine people are harping on about summer ALREADY). Clarks seems to be getting better and better each season, and although I always particularly look forward to the Originals and Orla Kiely collections, there are some lovely styles in the main line too.
I really liked the Busby Folly range for AW14 (especially the bottle green patent ones) so I’m pleased to see the style carried through for another season. They’ve gone a bit snazzier in rose gold and snake print, and are all the better for it.
I also really loved these loafer-sneaker hybrids in lemon yellow. Sadly it’s the only colour they come in but if you’re only going to do one colour, make it yellow I say!
The classic desert boot comes in chalky pastel colours for next season, and I was also delighted to see these floral Wallabees in small sizes. YAY! Let’s hope that goes all the way through into production – it’s annoying when we girls don’t get the chance to wear some of the styles in the Originals range. I’ve been dying to get my hands on a pair of Wallabees since watching Breaking Bad but haven’t been able to track down any size 4s. Unless they have a wedge heel, and I’m OBVIOUSLY not going there!
This is the bit you’ve all ben waiting for, I know.
Next season’s Orla collection is Sixties inspired, as you would expect, and has a good focus on flats which hasn’t always been the case so I’m pleased about that! There are masculine loafers and feminine T-bars too, as well as the gorgeous geeky T-bars above. It’s a shame they don’t all come with these lovely display backgrounds too! I can’t get enough of an Orla print, me…
Now I’ve got your attention, let’s talk snazzy shoes. habbot might not be a brand you’re familiar with unless you live in Australia, because that’s where this brand is based. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, geography isn’t a problem if you want to get your hands on a pair of habbot shoes because they ship worldwide for a fixed fee of a very reasonable $35. Even better, if you enter the En Brogue competition, you could WIN this gorgeous pair of two-tone wing tip loafers with gold tassels. Mmmm, dapper.
To enter, simply share my illustration of the shoes on Instagram tagging @habbot and @EnBrogue and include the hashtag #EnBrogueloveshabbot before MIDNIGHT (GMT) on SUNDAY NOVEMBER 23rd. YOU’VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE OF DAYS SO HURRY! The winner will be picked at random.
If you’re not lucky enough to win the shoes, do head to habbot’s website to check out the rest of the beautiful collection. I love these unusual designs – perfect for those of you who want to let your feet do the talking!
One of my best ever purchases was a pair of Liberty print skate shoes. OK, I admit they aren’t by the original skate shoe brand – Vans – but my Y.M.C. floral print sneakers get me more compliments than most of my other shoes. So as they’re starting to look a bit tatty (I’ve worn them A LOT), I reckon it’s time to invest in a new pair. And it just so happens that tomorrow (November 17th), Vans launches its fourth collaboration with Liberty Art Fabrics.
There’s something about Liberty print that works particularly well on trainers – Nike has done it, Y.M.C. has done it, Gola has done it – so it’s great that Vans is into its fourth season and these prints are GORGEOUS. Though I don’t know how they ever make a decision; I had the privilege of seeing some of the hundreds of Liberty swatches in the store archives earlier this year (there’s even an Isle of Wight print – imagine how excited I’d be if someone put that on a sneaker!) and the choice is insane!
You’d be surprised how much of your wardrobe a pair of floral trainers goes with. They look great if you wear all black and make your feet a point of interest. They’d also set off a pair of grey tailored trousers a treat. And they look cool with a leather pencil skirt and a sweatshirt. I like to wear mine with a classic Breton stripe and denim dungarees – the ultimate stylish weekend outfit. My favourite style is the Old Skool sneakers (top) – what’s yours? Leave comments below – I’d love to know!
I always love to hear about new shoe brands, particularly ones that manufacture in the UK. Ronnie Northampton is the brainchild of Kirsty Ronnie who is based (unsurprisingly) in Northampton: the shoe capital of Britain. And her designs are GORGEOUS.
Kirsty was born in Northampton and spent some time in London before returning to her home turf to study a masters in footwear design. “I’m really really passionate about keeping the industry alive in the area” she told me “there is no better place in my eyes than Northampton with its rich hertiage in the footwear industry and ‘money can’t buy’ knowledge and skill that the workers within the footwear factories have”.
The first Ronnie Northampton collection isn’t available until January but I wanted to draw your attention to it now because Kirsty has set up a Kickstarter page to raise the funds to develop the brand (here). If you don’t know about it already, Kickstarter is a way of enabling people with brilliant ideas to get the financial backing they need to get their business off the ground. In return, you get a gift from the brand, and in this instance these range from a leather key fob to a bespoke pair of shoes, depending on how much you pledge.
It’s INCREDIBLY difficult to start a new fashion brand if you don’t have tons of money, particularly if you are passionate about producing in the UK as it’s so much cheaper to get everything made in China. I’m becoming more and more interested in where my shoes and clothes are produced and would ALWAYS rather buy British if I can, so I’m really keen to support this brand! And for as little as £2, you can support it too. But hurry, the Kickstarter page is only live until December 1st!
Trends are great and everything, but it’s always good to have shoes in your wardrobe that you know will be in style for decades. One of my favourite shoes of all time is a lace-up brogue boot. This pair by Grenson were the shoes that got me REALLY hooked on shoes. I mean, I’ve always loved flat shoes, but it was this pair that tipped me well and truly over the edge from shoe fan to shoe-aholic.
What do I love about them so much (other than the fact that they look good as new after years of wearing)? 1) You’d be hard pushed to find anything that looks better with blue jeans 2) That tan leather is a fool-proof classic colour and 3) the fact that they’re lace-up means you can put your own spin on them (I added these yellow laces after a couple of years).
There’s never been a better time to invest in a pair of lovely brogue boots as there are so many to choose from on the high street. The image of my favourites from ASOS (above) also demonstrates my other current obsession: frayed hem jeans. Thanks to London fashion week designers Marques’Almeida, it’s totally fine if your jeans are too long to just cut them off and let them fray. It’s also a great way of making your jeans short enough to display your snazzy boots!
Another good bet, colour-wise, is burgundy – it’s bang on trend at the moment, but won’t ever go out of fashion. I particularly like the Pollard boot (top) from Bertie with its double texture finish. And don’t forget, if you get bored of your brogue boots in a couple of years, just change the laces for a fresh update.