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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Apologies for the radio silence. It’s been a busy week with the En Brogue book (find out how to pre-order it here!) but I’ve found the time to draw your attention to something very important: THE SALES. It’s really hard to resist a hefty discount, even when you have a shoe collection as large as mine. While researching the product for this very post, I got distracted and panic-bought a pair of shoes from Shoescribe.com (its sale is AMAZING, go there NOW). There was only one pair left in my size! What did you expect me to do?! I’ll share those with you once they arrive but meantime, here’s a round up of my favourite styles in the sales RIGHT NOW! There are a few pairs you might recognise from my own collection, too. Hurry before it’s too late…
I don’t know what’s happening to me. In my last post I purred over some amazing feline shoes from French brand Chatelles (they have a tail!), and now I find myself doing it again. I really don’t like actual real life cats (I’ve just cleared up an almighty amount of the neighbours’ cats’ poo from my garden AGAIN and Mr Brogue is terribly allergic) but these pumps are just TOO CUTE not to draw your attention to. And yes, they’re a little on the expensive side, but everyone I’ve ever known who’s treated themselves to a pair of Charlotte Olympia’s Kitty flats has been quite literally thrilled about it.
The Kitty flat isn’t a new thing, but this collection – called the Kitty & Co collection – is new for July. It includes eight styles, all made from luxurious velvet, with a personality all of their own, my favourite being Clever Kitty (above). Imagine wearing a pair of shoes that not only has a face and ears, but is wearing a pair of glasses, too!
If you go on to the website, there’s a fun feature where a digital eight ball will “shake” and tell you what kitty you are today. I was Superstar Kitty (above). Until I tried next time, when I was Pouty Kitty (below).
There’s something so delightfully childlike about this that appeals to a ten year-old me, who was obsessed by My Little Ponies (I had 24, all paid for out of my hard-saved pocket money) and Care Bears. And I do love a pair of shoes with a sense of humour. So even if you won’t be splashing out on a pair, sometimes it’s nice just to admire such pretty things.
With the Tour de France whizzing through London yesterday, my thoughts focused in on my holiday in Brittany I’ve got booked for later this year (can’t wait!), and in turn to French shoe brands. I’ve stumbled across a few recently, and if you like a quirky shoe with a sense of humour, I think you’ll like these three labels from across la Manche.
The shoes at Adieu Paris are actually inspired by British sub cultures like Teddy Boys and punk, and are for the most part creeper styles. I found them on one of my favourite shoe websites – shoescribe.com – which just so happens to have a sale on at the moment too!
I love these simple styles; they’re not reinventing the wheel here, but the design is so good that they feel fresh and not quite like anything I’ve seen before. Maybe it’s that super-shiny leather…
SunJellies dropped me a line recently and I’m so glad they did. This French brand were the original jellies people, and are now selling the shoes you all wore as kids in the UK (and in adult sizes!).
As you can see, there are all the colours you can imagine available and best of all, they’re only £14! They have high fashion credibility, too, having been spotted on a few catwalks at London Fashion Week in recent years. I have a pair in navy and they are as comfortable now as they were in 1983. If you’re feeling REALLY nostalgic, pick up a Jellie bag while you’re there to complete your look – at £10 an absolute steal!
I’ve written about Chatelles before but they’re still quite under-the-radar so I thought it was worth mentioning them again. Particularly as they’ve brought out these kitty flats…WITH A TAIL. So cute! All this brand sells is smoking slippers, but you can do fun things like customise them with coloured tassels or your initials on the toe. Oh, and the illustrations on the website are BRILLIANT.
Of course, my favourite French shoes are the cheap espadrilles you can buy in all the supermarkets in the summer. Watch this space for an update on my new pair for this year in August!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve got a thing about tiles. I never used to have a thing about tiles; it started happening when I began taking endless Instagram pictures of my feet. I’m constantly checking out the floor for interesting stuff, and tiles are my favourite shoe backdrop (I’ve even written about it before! You can read that here)
It’s a great conversation starter though – the editors AND designer of my book have the same tiles as me in their bathrooms (from Topps Tiles – the BEST place for tiles on a budget), so I knew they had the same taste as me right away. And at a pub birthday drinks on Saturday, people told me about the amazing tiles in the ladies’ before I even needed a wee (my friends know me so well).
Things got a bit out of hand earlier this week, though, when Mr Brogue and I were walking home from a night out. This particular street was littered with original Victorian tiles on paths and in doorways, and I couldn’t help myself. Suddenly, I was standing in a stranger’s porch snapping my (very comfortable) Havva sandals. Thankfully, I didn’t get caught!
It’s not just tiles, either. Recently, wide blue and orange stripes were painted on the platforms at London Bridge train station. I’ve no idea what purpose they serve, but I’ve been dying to annoy everyone during rush hour by stopping and framing my feet on them for months now, and I finally got my picture this week. Well, my shorts did match perfectly…
And while it’s been a really good week for tiles, nothing beats a beautiful dog lying on a crackled floor for a perfect shoefie (that’s a shoe selfie): meet Barry the whippet. Swoon!
Today is a pretty exciting day. My book – En Brogue: Love fashion. Love shoes. Hate heels – is now available to pre-order on the Waterstones website. Not only that, you can pre-order one of a limited number of copies that are signed by the author (that’s me!!). As you can imagine, I am thrilled!
The book is a celebration of stylish flat shoes, with my illustrations and quirky photos as well as interesting facts about all your favourite styles. I have had so much fun writing it – I hope you have fun reading it too!
This is only available from the website, not in stores, and there are only a limited number of signed copies available. The book will be published in September.
I’m was inspired to write this post today for two reasons. 1) my friend Daisy was wearing a gorgeous pair of authentic French tennis shoes on Sunday which I LOVED and 2) Wimbledon is on the telly.
OK, so the players at Wimbledon will be wearing something a bit more high tech than this, but these shoes do have their origins in tennis. And while Daisy’s mum bought her Bensimon plimsolls in a shop in France, you can buy them online in the UK too. I love that they look like a very basic pair of Converse; they have such a charm about them. And the price is certainly charming too! They come in a huge array of colours.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Selfridges had started selling Bata tennis shoes – another brand I’m putting in the category of European plimsolls – but they’re now stocking a lot more colours. This lemon yellow pair is divine, and at £35 are an absolute steal.
Even Toast, which can be a little pricey, is selling tennis shoes for just £35. I like this lace-less style for a fuss-free option. The plimsolls I remember from my own French camping holidays, though, which were worn by all the cool local kids, were made by Palladium. The brand is still going strong, and as well as these slim line ones, you can also find those chunky, almost military-style canvas boots on the website.
With the Isle of Wight festival now a distant memory and Glastonbury looming on the horizon, we have officially entered Festival Season. While I’m a firm believer in not wearing wellies unless the weather dictates, the weather does often dictate, so it’s a good idea to bring a sturdy waterproof boot with you to tackle the rain and the mud. There’s absolutely no reason why those boots shouldn’t be stylish though; there are so many brilliant wellies out there to choose from, and they don’t all look like you might expect. Here are a few of my favourites.
For when the weather forecast is good
If you’re expecting dry, warm weather at your festival, you don’t want to take up valuable packing space with your wellies. That’s why these from a little brand called Butterfly Twists are so good. They actually specialise in foldable ballet pumps, but they also do foldable Wellington boots. Absolutely perfect for slinging in the bottom of your rucksack in case of emergencies. They’re really nice too – available in five different colours.
For a city festival
I always think it’s weird to go to a one day festival in the city and get all dressed up as if you’re going to be spending a week camping in a field. That’s why I love the shorter versions of Wellington boots – I call them Anklingtons – as they look much more appropriate in an urban environment. These ones from Ted Baker are cool, and have a bit of a rock and roll vibe about them.
For the most stylish girl at the festival
I am IN LOVE with these wellies. They are by Ilse Jacobsen, a brand that always makes beautifully designed boots that actually make you wish for rain (check out the lace-up ones, too). The white sole on this pair is what makes them look particularly cool, and they’re technically high spec too – you won’t get soggy socks in these beauties.
For the cultural festival
Maybe you’re favouring a literally or food festival this summer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need your wellies. This handsome pair look like the thinking woman’s wellies if you ask me. Hunter has SO MANY designs on its website, you will be absolutely spoilt for choice.
For the Wellington shy
How amazing are these Dr Martens?! They look exactly like a normal pair of cherry reds, but they are made of rubber. Completely waterproof but without the look of a wellie. They come in loads of different colours, and you can get taller boots as well if it looks like it’s going to be a quagmire at the festival.
Sometimes, the high street really gets on board with a mad catwalk trend. With sporty embellished sandals it’s taken them a while – Christopher Kane debuted them in his spring/summer 2012 catwalk collection – but man, have they got it right this summer! When you’re investing in something silly like a sporty embellished sandal, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on it, so I’m thrilled that there are so many reasonably priced options around this season.
You see, I recently went to Bicester Village and tried on a pair in the Marni store. Even at the discounted price, they were still more than £300, so although I really REALLY loved them, I left them behind and returned to London with a heavy heart.
But look what I could have instead, and for a fraction of the price! I’ve already featured the Zara pair once but they are so good I had to include them again. And I’m very tempted to invest in a glue gun and some massive glass stones and just customise my own pair of Birkenstocks…
Plimsolls, trainers, sneakers; whatever you want to call these rubber-soled essentials, they’re all over the shoes news this week.
New brand alert
The lovely people at OLI 13 got in touch with me recently to see if I knew about their brand. I didn’t, so I was pleased to hear from them! They make lovely unisex shoes in Spain (don’t worry, they ship to the UK) and I just LOVE those coloured soles. Such a good price, too! I think I might get Mr Brogue a pair…
Best selling Batas
Bata has been making tennis shoes since 1936 (blimey!), so they know what they’re doing. Widely available in Europe, they’re not so easy to get hold of in the UK, so it’s great news that Selfridges has just started stocking them. An absolute classic, and just in time for Wimbledon!
Lily Cole for Veja
Intellectual model Lily Cole has teamed up with vegetarian shoe label Veja and Sky Rainforest Rescue to design these limited edition trainers. For every pair sold, Sky will donate £10 to help save the rain forests. They’re made in Brazil from organic cotton and natural rubber from the Amazon, and are rather nice, too.
The festival season kicks off on the Isle of Wight this weekend, so if you don’t fancy wearing wellies, I’ve got another option for you. These gorgeous trainers and high tops from Inkkas are made in Peru and their bright patterns reflect the traditional fabrics of the region. There’s something about them that I just think works perfectly for standing in a field watching music (so long as the weather stays nice that is – I’ll be covering wellies later this weekend too).
High street shoe of the week
Be still my beating heart! If there’s one thing I love as much as flat shoes, it’s Star Wars (I kid you not, I know all the words) so imagine my delight when I spied these beauties in Office! I’m not sure I’ve got the nerve to actually buy them and wear them, what with me not being twelve and everything, but I wanted to put them on here to preserve their brilliance for ever…
It’s a beautiful day in London today, so I’ve got sandals on my mind and I wanted to share with you a (sort of) new discovery, brand-wise – Chie Mihara.
Now, I was already aware of this brand but I never thought the designs were quite right for me. Which is why you should never rule a brand out completely – this one seems to have had a bit of a revamp and now the sandals are right up my street (I’ve also recommended the heels to friends who are mad enough to wear them but don’t tell anyone! I’ve got a reputation to uphold here…). The pair I’m sporting above (and below) have the lovely feature of an enclosed heel, which gives them a really nice retro feel without looking too kitsch.
They’re not cheap, these sandals, and you have to get your head around converting to Euros (they ship to the UK no problem, though) but they are beautiful quality. I wore mine for the first time yesterday and took a bit of a risk as I had to walk for about an hour, but they didn’t rub at all – which I find unusual with a new pair of sandals. Must be the combination of a leather AND rubber sole (the best combination). There are loads of styles of flat sandals on the website, but not necessarily loads of sizes still available so check before you fall in love with a pair! Below are my favourites – a highly recommended from EnBrogue if you’re looking to treat yourself to a pair of sandals for a special occasion.