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!).
Emma boots, £230, grenson.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
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.
Fred Perry by George Cox creepers
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.
Pogo creepers, £365, Robert Clergerie at net-a-porter.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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.
KAPA cut out shoes, £75, topshop.com (BUY ME HERE!)
raw edge ankle boots, £95, stories.com (BUY ME HERE!)
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.
me playing in Trago at The Rhythm Factory
Converse All Star Hi, £47.99, office.co.uk (BUY ME HERE!)
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.