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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So, it’s getting exciting now. My book – En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels – is published TWO WEEKS TODAY on September 11th. This week I got an actual copy of the book sent to me, which was REALLY exciting!
Up until this point, it’s sort of felt like a dream. The whole process – from getting a book deal with the wonderful people at Saltyard, to writing and illustrating the contents, to proof reading, to it being sent off to the printers – has all happened so quickly that I haven’t had time to stop and think about it! Although the book has been available to pre-order for a while now (you can do that here), until I actually see a copy of it in a bookshop, I think it’s still going to feel like it’s happening to someone else…only two weeks to wait until that happens! SQUEEEE!!
If, like me, you’ve become somewhat addicted to brogues over the past few seasons, you might be glad to hear of a development in the flat shoe department. While I was away at fashion week back in February, I noticed a trend on the catwalk that I’m pleased to say has been picked up by the high street.
Fringed shoes appeared on models at Suno and (my favourite) Marni. The latter took the idea and ran with it, morphing the leather fringe into a solid flap with a metal trim. They make the perfect alternative to brogues (in fact, you can find brogued versions of them) as you can style them up in exactly the same way. They just have a slightly snazzier feel.
The fringe itself is called a kiltie if it’s actually a removable piece of leather, and I think these shoes look their best when it is (or at least, looks like it is). It also means you have the added bonus of wearing the shoes two different ways! They were originally used by golfers to protect their laces from the dewy grass (more on kilties soon). You might also hear fringed shoes referred to as ghillies. The Russell & Bromley pair above comes in five different colours but this shiny burgundy pair best mimics the catwalk versions, as do the green ones below from Clarks and the blue from Office.
I also like the fringe on a monk shoe – I’ve been wearing the pair below from Toast for the last few summers and I LOVE them. Topshop is currently doing a very similar design, which comes in tan and black patent as well as the white shown here.
Well there’s some good news to cheer up a rainy bank holiday Monday if ever I heard it! To celebrate the launch of my book – En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels – on September 11th (read about that here), I’ve teamed up with fabulous shoe brand Lucy Choi London (featured in the book) to give you 15% off selected flat styles from today until Friday 5th September. WHOOP!
If you’re not already familiar with Lucy’s shoes, you MUST look her up. Her designs are chic and sophisticated, and of course, incredibly comfortable. She strikes that brilliant balance between a formal shoe (great for weddings/work) and a smart flat you can wear with a more casual get-up, like jeans and a T-shirt or leather trousers and a sweater.
The 15% off applies to the styles on the Lucy Choi London En Brogue promotional page and there’s certainly something for everyone! I love the Victoria slipper in velvet with its practical metal toe cap (so you don’t need to worry about them in the rain!) and Miami has the wow factor if you’re looking for a comfortable occasion shoe. My favourite is the Shaftesbury – you might have spotted this style on a previous blog post as I actually own this pair – as it’s elegant and cool, and ticks this season’s military trend perfectly. Plus those studs on the heel make me feel like no-one will mess with me when I’m wearing them!
To take advantage of the offer, simply head to lucychoilondon.com and enter the code LUCYLOVESENBROGUE at the checkout. It’s valid from Monday August 25th until Friday September 5th, so you’ve only got a couple of weeks to bag yourself a pair with 15% off. Happy shopping!
I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in France (literally – I haven’t even unpacked yet) and me and my flat shoes had a lovely time. France is a brilliant place to buy cheap, eternally stylish shoes, so I took the opportunity to pick up a few pairs while I was there.
I always get myself a pair of espadrilles from the supermarché (along with Dijon Mayonnaise, fig jam, endless cheese flavoured corn snacks and loads of tinned fish) and this orange pair set me back a whopping FIVE EUROS. Espadrilles, or “spads” as my dad calls them, are instantly comfortable and will never go out of fashion. I love the striped designs (top) but I’d already bought my orange pair by the time I saw them and even I know when to stop buying shoes…
I’ve been planning to get a pair of Bensimon plimsolls since my friend Daisy’s mum brought her a pair back from a French holiday, but this pair (which look almost identical) are actually by a Spanish brand called Natural World and at €14, were slightly cheaper too. I’ve always been suspicious of plimsolls with lace holes but no laces (why put the holes there? WHY?!), but these did come with optional laces and actually, I’m now sold on the no laces idea. The tongue of the shoe is elasticated so they’re dead easy to put on and kick off. I literally can’t stop wearing them.
Sadly there is not yet photographic evidence to support my next purchase, but I’m planning to get that when Mr Brogue and I head to the Amalfi coast for our anniversary next month. Mr Brogue loves swimming in the sea but unlike me, didn’t grow up near the beach and as a result, has very sensitive feet (bless him). So I got him a pair of jellies for €4.90. FOUR EUROS NINETY! You might question my judgement in putting a man in a pair of jellies, but other than the fact that they are a fetching shade of slightly see-through grey, I recently clocked a very stylish man wearing a pair in Sweden. If it’s good enough for the Swedes, it’s good enough for Mr Brogue.
I was, of course, on constant alert for interesting floors, so I will leave you with a few of my favourites.
Exciting news! adidas has opened its first store in London dedicated entirely to its Originals range. Now, I am a BIG fan of adidas Originals. Huge. It was a pair of adidas Superstars (or ‘shell toes’ as I used to call them) that I loved so much I slept with them next to my head so they would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. So as you can imagine, I am excited about this! The launch party last week was great fun – I got to have me and my Stan Smiths printed on a T-shirt – but the store is now fully open to the public, too.
As well as Stan Smiths and Superstars, I LOVE Gazelles. I remember coming on a school trip to London to watch Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ at the Barbican and managing to find the time to not only buy a pair of purple Gazelles, but to re-lace them in the theatre and still pay attention to the performance! I recently bought a new pale blue pair, but these in mustard are setting my pulse racing a bit, I’m not going to lie.
What’s great about Originals is that adidas keeps reinventing your favourite classic styles. This camouflage print pair of Superstars is great for the new season (there was a lot of military inspired fashion on the catwalk) and I spied some pretty amazing steel toe-cap versions in store at the party, too.
Stan Smiths have had a bit of a revamp as well – there’s this lovely textured finish that comes in the off-white above, as well as the blue I’m holding in the top picture. I highly recommend a trip to the store if you’re in the Carnaby Street area – it’s at 15 Fouberts Place.
Where has the summer gone?! And we were having such a good one, too. I did read somewhere that the UK has a mini monsoon season in August, so that certainly seems to be the case this year. But it does give you an excuse to start thinking about next season and subsequently…ankle boots!
To celebrate the launch of its own shoe line in the UK, Free People sent me this gorgeous pair of boots to shoot and I am very impressed. They’re a really cool design (if you heard me on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – if not, click here – they’re the boots that Zandra Rhodes complimented me on!) and they’re extremely comfortable, too. They’re a cut-out design, so look brilliant with a flash of flesh in the late summer months, but also work really well with a pair of socks.
This pair comes in five different colours, and there are absolutely LOADS of lovely ankle boots available on the website. Free People, if you’re not familiar with it, is an American brand with a boho feel, which means the leather on the shoes often looks ready worn-in. I also love the way they are styled up for the pictures – it really give you a good idea of how they will look on. It stocks other brands as well as its own (though its own tend to be the cheaper ones), so there’s an absolutely massive selection. Here are a few of my favourite styles. Happy shopping…well, what else are you going to do during a monsoon?!
In the first of a series of posts exploring ways you can update your existing shoe collection, I’ve a funny little discovery for you. Shoe clips – adornments that you attach to the front of your shoes – are a cute way of pimping your pumps. They work best on ballet and pointy styles, and my favourites are these pompoms by Cleo B.
OK, so they’re a little bit out there, but it’s really fun idea borrowed from high end brands (I spied some very expensive pompom shoes at Milan fashion week). At just £35, you can effectively get countless new pairs of shoes with these fluffy numbers. Incidentally, these are FAUX fur, though they are so realistic I had to double check!
The black versions are a little easier to wear; I love how they transform these camouflage print pumps into the ultimate party shoe. And of course black is likely to work on more than one pair of the shoes in your wardrobe.
I’ve just made a REALLY exciting purchase that’s being shipped over from the States, so as soon as that arrives I will bring you part 2 in the series!
Well aren’t I a lucky girl? I just got back from Gothenburg (you can thank my dad for the pun in the title!) and it was fabulous. I’d never been to Sweden before but I can’t wait to go back: it’s an absolute heaven for flat shoe lovers.
I was in Gothenburg with Vagabond – the Swedish shoe people – at a festival called Way Out West, which they sponsor. Although it’s still quite a niche brand in the UK, Vagabond is a MASSIVE deal in Sweden. And no wonder: the designs are really cool and the prices are VERY affordable.
You might have seen the Kasai trainers above on my Instagram posts. I’ve been wearing them for about six months now and I LOVE them. They’re incredibly comfortable and super light weight – I actually prefer them to some other well-known brands that make styles similar to this. They come in loads of different colours and are less than sixty quid, so well worth checking out.
I’m also very keen on Vagabond’s offering of sandals and pool slides. Here I am with Alex from The Frugality (read her brilliant blog here) in white Erie sandals, Jo from Vagabond in Flora sandals and me in black Erie slides. They’re great if you like the look of Birkenstocks but fancy something a bit different – I love the patent finish on mine.
Other things Sweden is good at? Wallpaper, cool stuff made of concrete, and facial hair, as the photographic evidence below proves. All things that I love too! The beard bar below was at the festival itself – I’m starting to wonder if Mr Brogue might be secretly Swedish…
Well aren’t we having a cracking summer in the UK this year? I haven’t been away on my summer holidays yet but I’ve spent a lot of time by the sea in Britain already and it’s been wonderful. Since it’s virtually August (how did that happen?!) and lots of you will no doubt be packing up the car to head to Cornwall, Scotland, or, if you have any sense, the Isle of Wight, here’s what I reckon you should pack for our country’s unpredictable weather.
1. a pair of waterproof sandals
We’re ALL fans of Birkenstocks and they’re all well and good when it’s dry, but get those sandals wet and that cork sole takes a bit of a battering. I’ve got the perfect alternative though: a pair of waterproof pool slides. The pair I’m wearing here is from a lovely Swedish brand called Vagabond (if you don’t know about them already, check them out – great designs and VERY reasonably priced) but you could get a cheap built-for-purpose pair from a sports brand like Nike or adidas if you want a high fashion look. We might be having lots of sun right now but I’ve just seen the weather forecast and there’s some rain heading in for the weekend, so be prepared!!
2. don’t discount your brogues
If, like me, you’ve bought heavily into the modern rubber soled brogue styles from brands like Grenson, you’ll know that they are about as practical as it gets when you get caught in the rain. I’ve also become really fond of wearing my brogues with shorts when it’s hot, as it’s a much smarter option than sandals if you’re going out for dinner or drinks. And they’re so bouncy and comfortable, they’re brilliant for strolling around a town or beach (as I’m doing here in Aldeburgh in Suffolk).
3. pack some slip-on skate shoes
For days when the mercury drops, you’ll be glad you remembered to bring these comfy pumps. Smarter than trainers but just as comfortable, they’re brilliant for visiting a theme park, going on long walks or going on a shopping trip (easy to take off and put back on again in the changing rooms). I have different pairs for the winter and summer, and have been living in this floral print pair from Y.M.C. for the past two summers (I switch to darker ones for the winter). Pastel colours are also a great option while the sun is shining.
4. find some wellies you actually like
If you’re planning a trip that includes muddy walks or, as in my case, a mackerel fishing trip, you might want to consider bringing a pair of Wellington boots. I was lucky enough to go to Padstow with my job at InStyle with Boden, and when Boden take you fishing, they provide the wellies! If these are a bit bright for you, there’s a plain black pair that just looks like biker boots (how chic!) and this leopard print pair would look brilliant with a Breton stripe. Another brand I love for wellies is Ilse Jacobsen, whose boots are in the sale at Office at the moment.
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…