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…
If you’re a hardcore brogues and loafers fan like me, the arrival of summer either marks a complete change in your footwear habits (I tend to live in leather sandals) or months of very sweaty feet. Or perhaps you’re like my friend Jo. She has a thing about toes. She doesn’t like them (not even her own!), so the prospect of summer with its open toes and pedicures galore fills her with dread.
But last summer I discovered the PERFECT summer shoe for tomboys and toe-phobes alike: the cut-out. These shoes allow you to keep hold of your mannish aesthetic while getting some ventilation around your feet. The pair I bought last year were from Y.M.C. and are available again this year in navy or tan suede.
I sometimes refer to this closed-toe sandal style as ‘geek shoes’ (you can exaggerate this by wearing them with socks) and it’s a trend that has lived on for another year. I lived in mine last summer, so am very tempted to get some more. These by Northern Cobbler are BEAUTIFUL – I love the brogue detailing on the straps. And for a cheaper option, head to good old Topshop.
Seeing as I already have a pair like this, though, maybe it would be more sensible (and less greedy) to purchase a pair of the new breed of breathable shoes. These are more substantial lace-ups with panels of leather missing or, in the case of these beauties from Paul Smith, perforated holes in the leather. Either way, they’ll keep your feet and your outfit cool; a brilliant investment for the androgynous dresser.
So, I promised you earlier in the week a guide to summer sandals. And the news this summer is: they’re chunky and sporty. You can blame Phoebe Philo at Celine for this - as you can for most trends you’ve ended up wearing over the past few years – as well as my favourite brand Marni, Prada and Kenzo amongst others.
This style isn’t for everyone (I’m quoted in today’s Times Magazine on the very subject) but I LOVE them. They’re the ultimate in comfort (particularly if you have the nerve to wear them with socks, though if you’re going to do this I’d advise ribbed socks and NEVER towelling) and the high street has grabbed it with both hands. Good news! Ignoring this spectacular pair by Nicholas Kirkwood, which I can’t afford, so I painted them, I’ve rounded up my favourite more affordable designs available right now. Stock up now before they sell out!
OK, London fashion week seems like an age ago now, but I flew straight from the last show to Milan fashion week (yay!) and so am only just getting around to uploading my fav flats from our capital. Flat shoes were EVERYWHERE – even more so than last season – which is great news for us heel haters. Here are some of the best I saw last week.
I was lucky enough to be backstage at Topshop’s Unique show and fell hard for these pointy loafers. Can’t wait for them to drop in store at my local Toppers! Here’s ultra cool model Betty Adewole (my new style crush) wearing her own clothes and the Unique shoes during the show’s run through.
A trend that I’ve seen in Milan as well as London is shoes that are furry on the outside; like really stylish inside-out UGGs. Here they are at Marques’Almeida (you might have never heard of this brand, but they’re one of the reasons ripped jeans are making a comeback) and Osman (these lovely things are a collaboration with Manolo Blahnik).
Not only does he show in a venue with an incredible parquet floor (swoon!), JW Anderson also had some really unusual flat shoes in his collection. This sculptural leather was really beautiful, and actually surprisingly wearable.
The pair I will be saving up for, though, are these from Roksanda – a collaboration with Nicholas Kirkwood, who also designed the lovely embellished flats at Erdem (it was too dark to get a decent picture of those ones). They came in all manner of colours but I think the flash of orange on the sole is the one for me.
And there were plenty of flats off the catwalk too – I wasn’t the only fashion editor favouring a more comfortable way of negotiating the streets of London. Here’s what I, and a few others, wore.
As for Milan, well – there were even more flats! Watch this space for my round-up.
Regular readers of EnBrogue will know I am a BIG fan of the snazzy sock, and yesterday I hit the shops to stock up on some new season pairs. Socks are a hot trend for SS14, which means there are some much cooler designs available than normal. It’s a quick, cheap and easy way of updating an old pair of shoes, so even if you’re not up for wearing ankle socks and flat shoes with a skirt, you can at least turn up your jeans and show a bit of colour! Here are my favourite pairs for a bit of inspiration.
Love love LOVE this first pair from Topshop (with Grenson shoes) because of their retro masculine vibe. They’re part of a ’3 pairs for £8′ deal, or are £3.50 per pair. I like them so much I also bought them in grey.
If you don’t live in London, you might not have discovered & Other Stories yet (sister store to H&M and COS) but the website is great so check it out. These crochet socks (£5) are really handy at this time of year for shoes like these by 10 Crosby Derek Lam that you would usually wear with bare ankles. Normal black socks would look weird, but these pretty ones are just right.
Unlike & Other Stories, Muji’s website is hopeless, but it has plenty of stores so hopefully you’ll be able to track one down as its socks are excellent. They are really good quality and are around £4.50 per pair. As well as this spotty pair (worn with NW3 Hobbs loafers) it has a great selection of subtle Argyle designs too.
Back to & Other Stories now, and these cute neon trim socks (worn with Folk sneakers) come in a two-pack for £5 (the other pair is darker grey with yellow trim). They add a feminine touch to your casual trainers.
Finally, the most fashion-forward of the bunch. Prada’s SS14 collection was littered with footless knee-high hockey socks but Topshop has put a more wearable spin on the look with these ankle socks. Die-hard fashionistas will be teaming them with skirts and this season’s chunky sandals (more on those soon), but I’ll stick to my Grenson brogues I think.
Happy socks shopping!
Last week I found an old CD in my car. It turned out to be a 10 year-old recording by a little known band called Trago. They sounded a bit like a less polished version of Franz Ferdinand; like ‘posh punk’ if that were an actual genre. The bass player in Trago was me.
I played in a couple of bands before I started working in fashion (the tomboy thing extends beyond shoes!) and I LOVED it. I found myself reaching for my Fender this week, feeling a pang of nostalgia for the good old days when my nails were short and the skin on my fingers was always tough from constant playing. And it got me thinking: if Trago or Red 10 (my other band, a more ‘urban folk’ vibe) were still rocking The Water Rats or The Bull & Gate, what flat shoes would I be wearing now? The answer: probably the same shoes I always wore. There’s a reason why musicians keep coming back to the same styles like Dr Martens and Converse; they’re practical as well as good-looking. Here are the key shoes that guitar lovers like me come back to time after time.
I’m more into the brogue finish than a classic cherry red these days, but my interest in bovver boots and in bass guitars both came in 1994 when I fell madly in love with Blur (though of course Damon and Co borrowed this look from suedeheads). These Dr Martens Harris Tweed boots look great with my white Fender Precision (yeah, I’d totally match my shoes to my guitars, obvs!).
These Grenson Emma boots are SO cool, and are crying out for a coordinating guitar strap! I team my boots with turned up Levis and a buttoned up Fred Perry as I never tire of the mod aesthetic.
Inspiration: The Sex Pistols
Brothel creepers, with their roots in the Teddy Boy culture of the late 1950s, will always be associated with music. These shoes, with their chunky crepe rubber sole, were resurrected by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren in the 1970s, and have been popular with musicians as diverse as The Sex Pistols, Bananarama and Rihanna.
These George Cox creepers would get a lot more wear if I was still gigging. When I wear these, I worry that I look like I’m pretending to be in a band; they seem too cool for everyday life. But pop them in the same outfit as a Fender Musicmaster and suddenly it all makes sense! For something a little more classic, how about these gorgeous black ones by Robert Clergerie? I like wearing mine with skinny leather trousers and a blazer.
Rock chick ankle boots
Inspiration: Susanna Hoffs, The Bangles
Most of the styles in this post are unisex, but being a girl in a band means you can show up the boys’ footwear from time to time (I was the only girl in both of my bands). My actual ‘gig boots’ back in the day were a pair of black leather boots from Office. Because if you’re ever in doubt about what to wear on stage, black leather always looks good! I love the way Susanna Hoffs has styled her black boots here; she always struck a great balance between sexy and cool. Cut-out designs and lots of buckles are always good for injecting a rock chick feel to an outfit, and are also really current.
Inspiration: Kurt Cobain and most people who have ever picked up a guitar
In case you thought I was making all this up, here is a very grainy picture of me playing at the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel, circa 2003. There are no pictures of my feet but I remember what I was wearing: classic cream Converse All Stars. I mean, what else would you pair with an original 1970’s Action Man T-shirt?! Converse must be up there with Dr Martens as the most popular band shoes ever, with everyone from Kurt Cobain to Paul McCartney having worn them.
Of course, there’s no need to actually play in a band to wear any of these shoes! But music is always a great place to look for fashion inspiration, especially for enduring styles that will be eternally cool.
Yesterday I shot another advertorial campaign for Clarks and the focus this time was on boots. I thought it might be a bit weird wearing winter clothes in July but it rained all day in Brighton (where we were shooting), so actually it was quite fitting!
I know many of you loved the sneak preview of the styles I shot with Clarks last month, so here’s a few snaps of some boots you can look forward to in store at Clarks this autumn (along with a few rare pics of my face!).
As you would expect from Clarks, all of these boots were incredibly comfortable (particularly the Orinoco Sash style above), but I think the brand has come on leaps and bounds in terms of design. I love the three-tone Morgan Carla lace-ups – such a classic but with that cool, modern twist.
Regular readers of En Brogue will know I have a penchant for (OK, OK – obsession with) animal print slippers and pumps. This extends into summer footwear too, though my sandal collection isn’t as large, mainly due to the lack of opportunity to wear them because of the increasingly weird British summertime.
But it’s July now, and I will insist, even if it’s with cold toes, on wearing sandals whenever it’s dry. Today I went for a bonanza of print clashing, teaming these zebra print sandals by DUO with this lovely animal print bag from Mint Velvet (what animal even is that though? Brindle Greyhound? Answers on a postcard…) and a pair of Zara floral print trousers. This demonstrates perfectly why the animal print shoe is so brilliant: it goes with absolutely everything, even another print. Or two.
My love for the animal print sandal began a few summers ago when I bought these Russell & Bromley Dalmatian print sandals as an investment. And it was a good one! R&B’s shoes are always fabulous quality, and these still look good as new despite having been walked through deep seaweed on a bad beach walk on the Isle of Wight and dusted with orange dirt in the Tuscan foothills.
The good news about Britain’s recent tendency for Indian summers is that by the time you think about wearing sandals, most of them are in the sale. Here are my top picks available at the moment. Be warned: some of these low prices will be hard to resist!
It’s wedding season, and for many women this means feeling the pressure to look “dressed up”. For some reason, this also equates feeling the pressure to wear heels, even though with the amount of dancing involved you’d probably much rather be in flat shoes. Not to mention the blisters that come with wearing sky-high shoes, the supply of plasters that has to be packed in your tiny handbag, and the feet washing that has to be done at the end of the night because you’ve spent most of the day in bare feet when your heels got too painful…I don’t need to promote the benefits of NOT wearing heels any more, do I?!
Yesterday I was bridesmaid for my dear school friend Daisy. I wore flat shoes (of course!), even though the other two bridesmaids were VERY tall and were an entire foot taller than me once they were in their heels. I might have looked comical when standing next to them, but I was on the dance floor all night and I didn’t have any blisters to complain about this morning. My shoes were still a very special purchase and made a chic addition to my bridesmaid dress, plus I have the added bonus that they will look fab with a pair of jeans and a sweater too.
The bride too was savvy enough to know that she’d have a better time on the dance floor if she changed into flats for the evening do. Her turquoise L.K. Bennett heels did look gorgeous for the ceremony, but Daisy’s Topshop shoes allowed her to dance all night in comfort. They also looked super cool with her vintage wedding dress.
So when you’re planning your next wedding outfit, don’t feel like you HAVE to wear heels to look stylish. It’s just not true, and you’ll have a much better time for wearing flats. Plenty of other women yesterday had this in mind as you can see above (I particularly liked that Catherine wore her Salt Water sandals; she looked great).
Finally though, I couldn’t not mention the men. Not that they have any option but to wear flats (although I’m sure no-one would have minded if they wore heels!). There were some seriously dapper shoes on offer, even TWO pairs of metallic lace ups. Top marks boys!
Today’s blog was inspired by my friend Holly’s lovely (and incredibly stylish) mum Joy, who was wearing these gorgeous Jigsaw espadrilles at the weekend. I love Joy’s style; she’s always one step ahead of the game with her brilliant creative eye (she also makes amazing hand-pulled screen printed cushions which you can buy on her Random Retail website here - I highly recommend taking a look!), so it didn’t surprise me to learn that she bought these shoes last year and they’re sadly not available anymore. But it reminded me how much I love espadrilles, and it was really about time I did a post on them.
The brilliant thing about espadrilles is that they are usually pretty cheap. The high street has a great offering at the moment, especially of jaunty stripy ones like Joy’s. These are all perfect for lazy summer days at the beach, and leave plenty of change for a Mr Whippy with a Flake or a bag of fish and chips!
I do think it’s fine to pay a bit more for espadrilles if the design is good enough however, though I’m not talking about the £400 Celine pair I saw in Selfridges recently (yes, FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS!). These particular beauts are from one of my favourite brands, Penelope Chilvers, who is somewhat of a specialist in the espadrille sole.
These are a bit special to be kicking off at the beach mind you! I’ll be taking better care of them than that. Although Penelope herself told me that espadrilles should get thrown away at the end of the summer, I have a pair of hers that are still going well into their third year, so they really are well made (and therefore worth that extra investment!).
The espadrilles that half of you probably own anyway – TOMS – are SO comfortable, and have such a great ethical story (read more about it here), I couldn’t do this post without mentioning them. Plus I took a nice picture of them in the sunshine on Bank Holiday Monday while I was on the Isle of Wight, which would have been a shame not to share. There are dozens of styles and colours available, so there really is something for everyone (my mum has some in yellow, and Mr Brogue is after a pair too).
One final espadrille thought for you: if you’re holidaying in France this summer, have a look at the clothing department in your local supermarche when you’re picking up a baguette. They ALWAYS have a big range of espadrilles for as little as €5. Bargain!!