En Brogue competition: I challenged students to design the perfect shoe

This is the first of two very exciting blog posts. To celebrate the launch of my book En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels., I was asked to set a competition for students at the London College of Fashion. The candidates, all studying BA Hons Cordwainers Footwear: product design and development, were given the task of designing the perfect flat party shoe, and I loved all the entries. It was such an honour to see the work of these future shoe designers (could one of them be the next Nicholas Kirkwood?!) but I had to narrow it down to my favourites and today, I want to share with you the three runners up.

Ellie Sinden


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Such a cute design, this one. I love the slightly Glam Rock feel to them (very SS15!) but crucially they don’t stray into platform territory. They’d look brilliant with a metallic A-line party dress but I think I would wear them with skinny jeans and a metallic roll neck top. Maybe even a pair of flares (cropped ones, of course – so you can see the shoes!). Well done Ellie!

Tarun Oblum


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What I like about this design is that at first glance they appear to be quite classic, but look closer and this is a VERY modern shoe. Those cut out details are really unusual and the (virtually flat) heel is completely transparent. I’m also a big fan of an ankle strap as it’s a flattering feature. Congratulations Tarun!

Sarah Weatherby

Sarah Weatherby

So much to love about this entry – even ignoring the shoes I love the styling with the skirt and the floor tiles! But those shoes are gorgeous, too. They’re a sort of pump/ankle boot hybrid and I REALLY like the contrasting vamp that looks like it’s attached with elastic gussets. Nice work, Sarah!

I’d love to know what you think about these designs as well. Which pair are your favourite? Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing the winner and revealing her brilliant designs.

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou: ALL the trainers

My last post explored the designers using trainers as inspiration for their clothing, and one of those designers was Mary Katrantzou. Now, obviously the thing you lot are most interested in is the actual trainers. So here, in all their technicolour glory, are the trainers in the adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou collection. WOWZAS!

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £195

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £130

While I don’t doubt that these are high spec trainers, performance-wise, you won’t catch me going for a jog across Blackheath in a pair of these beauties! Well, you won’t catch me going for a jog full stop because I’m too lazy but that’s beside the point. These are trainers to be treasured, cherished and looked after with the same care you’d give to a beautiful pair of Grenson brogues. Look at them! They’re works of art.

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £135

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £140

The collection is available from November 15th but don’t expect them to hang around for long. If you want a pair for yourself, you’ll need to be quick!

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £195 (2)

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou £155

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Is it a trainer…or is it a skirt?

Trainers are a big deal in fashion right now. HUGE. Not only are they regularly paraded down the catwalk – even at couture shows – but they’ve now made it onto the clothes themselves. So in an unusual post for me, I’m going to look at two designers who have used trainers as their inspiration for dresses, skirts and jackets, rather than actual shoes (don’t worry! There’s a shoe-related post to follow tomorrow).

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou AW14 model_6
adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou

It was announced this week that Mary Katrantzou has designed a capsule collection for adidas (YAY!!). adidas has really been on the money just recently with LOADS of collaborations, including the hilarious Stan Smith (the tennis player the shoe is named after) vs Stan Smith (from American Dad), but this is the one I’m most excited about.

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou AW14 7
adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou is a favourite on the London fashion week circuit, known for her textured bright prints which are often very literal; she once made a skirt that featured 3D pencils, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘pencil skirt’. And while her designs are a bit wacky, she still manages to make them totally desirable and wearable. Case in point with the above model shot: this amazing skirt, which as you can see really looks like the lace section of a trainer, would look really cool and not OTT with a plain white T-shirt and a simple pair of trainers (obvs, what else would you wear on your feet?!).

adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou AW14 model_5
adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou

There are plenty of actual trainers in this collection too, and I’ll be looking at those tomorrow. It’s available from November 15th and will be a bit more pricey than your average adidas clobber, but you’re still getting a hot designer piece for far less than you’d pay for her main line collection. Result!

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Alexander Wang SS15

Another designer using trainers as literal inspiration for his designs is Alexander Wang (he who launches his own collaboration with H&M on November 6th). The dress above, shown at New York Fashion Week in September for the SS15 collections, is, coincidentally, based on the adidas Stan Smith. And once you know that, you can totally see it! There were more dresses based on trainers too, all a little less literal than Mary Katrantzou’s but very clear once you know it’s there. The fabric below is based on the tread on the sole of a trainer.

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Alexander Wang SS15

Tomorrow, a review of the trainers in the adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou collection…

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brand focus: SENSO

I do love a brand that has a family history, and Australian footwear brand SENSO certainly fits into that category. Established in the 1980s, it is now run by the original owners and their three daughters, each responsible for a different part of the business. How nice would it be to work with your parents and your sisters?

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Ava skate shoes, £115 by SENSO at ASOS.com (BUY ME HERE!)

Anyway, the shoes they produce are LOVELY! My first illustration commission was for Harvey Nichols’ Shoetopia department, and the SENSO boots I was ask to paint for the project really brought the brand to my attention. They manage to design styles that are both classic and really modern, with interesting design touches and unusual finishes. These are ‘look at me’ shoes; the sort of footwear people will stop you in the street and ask you about.

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Ava skate shoes, $199 (AUD), senso.com.au (BUY ME HERE!)

Because the brand is Australian, its seasons are opposite to ours so the most current collection is SS14 (great if you are going on a winter holiday and need some out of season sandals!). Much of the AW14 collection is still available on SENSO’s website though (they offer free worldwide shipping), and ASOS also has a good selection too. I love the chunky skate shoes, particularly in plaid.

Senso grunge shoe
Katia grunge sole shoe, £155 by SENSO at ASOS.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Kat shoe, $249 (AUD), senso.com.au (BUY ME HERE!)

At my day job as fashion features editor at InStyle, we shoot a lot of SENSO because as well as having brilliant designs, the prices are very reasonable too. These shoes look like they are proper designer – EXPENSIVE – but as you can see, you can pick up a pair for a little over £100. There is a really great selection of styles, from chunky masculine shoes to more delicate, pointy flats, and there’s always a good offering of animal print, which can’t be a bad thing! So if you’re looking for a pair of chic, statement shoes, this may well be the brand for you.

Senso leopard 2
Freja shoes, £139 by SENSO at ASOS.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Jax, $229 (AUD), senso.com.au (BUY ME HERE!)
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Freja, $259 (AUD), senso.com.au (BUY ME HERE!)

what to wear in the rain…if you don’t like wellies

Earlier this week I wrote about anklington boots (that’s Wellingtons that are ankle length) and while lots of you LOVED them, there will be some of you out there that just don’t like Wellington boots. And I get that – there are certain occasions when a wellie just doesn’t feel appropriate. Luckily, to coincide with this thought, Converse has launched a range of rubber shoes that might just fit the bill.

navy Converse
CTAS rubber boots, £59.99 by Converse at office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

We’ve all learnt the hard way that classic canvas Converse shoes are NOT waterproof. But that’s quite something isn’t it? We ALL know that fact. The number of people who have never owned a pair of Converse must be really small. So the number of people who will be really happy about these new rubber styles is likely to be…well, a lot!

yellow Converse
CTAS rubber boots, £59.99 by Converse at office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
black Converse
CTAS rubber boots, £59.99 by Converse at office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

Converse aren’t the only ones making cool rubber non-Wellington shoes. Hunter has been at it for a while, and I love the high-top trainers you can currently order on its website. There is also a range of rubber ballet pumps and I’m excited about next season’s offering of lace-up plimsol-style boots.

Hunter high tops
Hunter high tops, £140, pre-order at hunter boots.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Hunter ballet pump
Hunter ballet pumps, available in six colours, £75, hunterboots.com (BUY ME HERE!)

And how about this balmy hot wet weather we’re having at the moment? According to my fashion thermometer, 20 degrees -as it was in some parts of the UK yesterday – is plenty warm enough to still be wearing sandals. And how perfect are these from Ancient Greek Sandals? They’re also made of rubber, so you can make the most of the Indian summer without ruining your leather sandals in puddles.

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Ikaria sandals, £70 by Ancient Greek Sandals at net-a-porter.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Ikaria sandals, £70, by Ancient Greek Sandals at net-a-porter.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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Ikaria sandals, £70 by Ancient Greek Sandals at net-a-porter.com (BUY ME HERE!)

I Love Wight

I’ve been so lucky getting press for my book, having been featured in The Daily Telegraph, InStyle (OK, so I engineered that one myself), Red Magazine, Grazia, Stylist and Look to name but a few. But I have to say that this weekend marks the most exciting press to date: back on my home territory of the Isle of Wight.

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There’s something particularly special about being recognised in the area you grew up in (and it was a fabulous place to grow up, I might add) so I was thrilled to appear in The Isle of Wight County Press this week in a lovely feature by John Hannam, who is somewhat of a local legend. Not only that, but the feature is also about one of my best friends in the world – Daisy Coulam (if you’ve read my book, she’s the bride I was bridesmaid to when I wore flats) – who I went to school with and have known since I was three. She’s also married to Mr Brogue’s best friend from school in Tipton in the West Midlands. I know, good story, right?! If you’ve caught any of Grantchester, ITV’s brilliant new Monday night series, she wrote it. The whole thing! I’m so proud of her!

me and John Hannam unintentionally matching in leopard shoes

We’re also appearing on John’s radio show John Hannam Meets on Isle of Wight Radio tomorrow (Sunday 19th). If you’re interested, you can listen at iwradio.co.uk at 2pm and again at 10pm (I’m not suggesting you listen to it twice! We’ll reserve that honour for my mum). John is a bit of a cool dude too – check out the shoes he wore when we met for the interview!!

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Anklingtons: the story continues

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but this week in London it’s been WET. And as I learn that some massive storm is heading this way for the weekend, complete with more rain, my thoughts turn inevitably to wet weather footwear. And in turn, anklingtons.

Jumpy boots in grey and green, £42.50 by Meduse, nolaboutique.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

“What are these anklingtons you speak of?”, I hear newer En Brogue readers crying. Well, anklington boots is a phrase I coined a while back to describe Wellington boots that are ankle length (a much more stylish option in the city than a full-on knee-boot if you ask me) after I ran after a girl wearing a pair in Barcelona to get a closer look (read about that here). And by a stroke of luck to coincide with this inclement weather, I’ve stumbled upon a brilliant and reasonably priced brand that makes them: Meduse.

Jumpy boots in panther print, £50 by Meduse, nolaboutique.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)

What I love about Anklingtons is that you don’t really need to change the rest of your outfit to accommodate them. They work best with skinny turned up jeans but also with smarter trousers and skirts too. And if you get a particularly smart pair, you won’t feel the need to change out of them into something else when you get to work. Because let’s face it, we flat shoe lovers aren’t ones for carrying spare shoes in our bags…

Jumpy boots in dark brown and orange, £42.50 by Meduse, nolaboutique.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
Jumpy boots in camp print, £50 by Meduse, nolaboutique.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
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Sneak preview: see next season’s Grenson shoes NOW!

It’s a funny old life, working in fashion. Just as everyone else is unpacking their winter woollies and thinking about buying a sturdy pair of new boots, we’re planning what we think you will all be wearing next summer. I know, right?! The good news is that this means I get to have a sneak preview at stuff in plenty of time for you to save up for it, and yesterday, I paid a visit to one of my very favourites, Grenson.


If the reaction the picture above got on Instagram yesterday is anything to go by, you lot are going to LOVE the new collection. I know I do; I was virtually salivating over the pair in the middle. There are some old favourites in new colours (like the yellow Emily and Clara styles above) but also lots of totally new ones. Here are my favourites.

The saddle shoes

IMG_0013I write about saddle shoes in my book but I’ve never actually owned a pair of my own. They have an interesting history, having originally been worn to play sports like golf but eventually being adopted by Lindy Hoppers because they were comfortable to dance in. Unless you’re willing to wear vintage shoes, they’re pretty hard to find. But Tim Little (he’s the big boss at Grenson) has designed them before and this season he’s introduced them for girls. I am THRILLED about this and am currently planning most of my next season outfits around the yellow and white pair…

The removable kilties

IMG_0010This is another shoe that has its origins in golf; the removable leather fringe (called a kiltie) is there to protect the laces from the wet grass. Grenson have made this style of shoe before – my second ever pair are these in yellow suede – but not with the kiltie. Funny thing is, I bought myself some yellow kilties to do a DIY version of this with but they got lost in the post. Still, I’m happy that me and Tim are on the same wavelength!!

The triple welt


The welt is the bit that attaches the top of the shoe to the sole, and there is usually only one of them. The Grenson triple welt has three stepped welts giving a stacked, exaggerated effect. I love the summer colours of grey and white – the white ones would be great to wear to a wedding (even if you were the bride!).

The dyed soles

IMG_0016These are more subtle than some Grenson styles (though I am a big fan of those big white Vibram soles), and have the sole of the shoe dyed exactly the same colour as the rest of the shoe. This picture doesn’t do them justice but they would make a brilliant everyday brogue.

The ankle boots



The grey ankle boots at the top make my heart sing a little bit! They are so simple – no laces or elastic gusset, just a zip – and the colour is gorgeous. You don’t see enough grey ankle boots if you ask me. And having lived in my Lucy brogues since I got them last month, which are the shoe version of the black chukkas above with the black sole, I’m really happy to see the style extended to a boot.

What are your favourite styles? I’d love to know – leave a comment below!





win an original watercolour featured in the En Brogue book

It’s competition time! I’m giving away a signed watercolour to one lucky En Brogue reader. It’s actually quite a hard competition for me, as I’ve got rather attached to all these paintings that I did for the book, but I’m going to be brave about it for the sake of you lovely lot.

photo-3 copy
you could win this watercolour!

The painting in question appears on page 90 of the book. It’s of a pair of brogues (of course) and my favourite type of brogues too: wing tips. I haven’t done it yet, but by the time you (if it IS you) receive it, it will have been framed, too.

don’t worry if your shoes don’t match the cover

To be in with a chance of winning, upload a picture of you in your favourite flats and your copy of the En Brogue book to either Twitter or Instagram with #EnBroguecomp by Thursday October 16th. I’ll pick my favourite and announce the winner on Friday October 17th. You know me – I’ll be giving extra marks for good floors and tiles but don’t worry, you don’t need multiple copies of the book or shoes that match the cover to be considered…



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brand focus: Havva

As fashion features editor of a glossy magazine, I often get the opportunity to order a pair of shoes months before they are actually available. Which is great, but then I have to endure weeks of waiting, often impatiently, for that new shoe box to arrive (first world problems…). So I was VERY excited when this lovely pair turned up this week, hand delivered by their designer, Havva Mustafa.

my new Havva shoes!
my new Havva shoes!

I met Havva a few seasons ago at London fashion week and was blown away by her beautiful shoes. They are exquisitely made, with both design and comfort in mind, and the prices are absolutely amazing given the quality. Havva told me that all of her shoes are hand made in Turkey – in her factory they literally construct the shoes on their laps – and it’s little wonder that where and how her shoes are made is so important to her. She comes from a long line of shoe makers, and both she and her father teach shoe making courses  at Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion respectively (massive hint to Mr Brogue there for my Christmas present!).

Gordon, £165, havvamustafa.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Havva boot
Edwin boot, £175, havvamustafa.com (BUY ME HERE!)

I’ve been a fan of Havva’s sandals for a while now (there’s a pair featured in my book on page 42 – you can buy my book here) because they are so comfortable. They have a squidgy sole which is heaven on the foot, particularly with a sandal when you’re expecting a very flat, non-supporting leather sole. But now I have a “proper shoe” in my collection too I’m hooked on those too. I love the design of my fringed monks and having seen a sneak peak at next season too, am excited that a similar style in white will be available come summer, as well as an amazing two-tone black and white fringed sandal. Meanwhile, here’s a look at some more of my favourite styles that you can buy now.

Havva loafer
Madison in Oxblood (also available in black), £155, havvamustafa.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Havva toe cap
Avenue in navy suede (also available in black leather), £145, havvamustafa.com (BUY ME HERE!)
Havva T-bar
Tiffany, £120, havvamustafa.com (BUY ME HERE!)