Not all fashion inspiration comes from the catwalk. After I stumbled across this wonderful picture of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth, I was admiring both pairs of shoes, and it got me thinking about just how great two-tone monochrome shoes are. I have a couple of pairs myself, and there are so many great things about them. They go with everything. They’re eternally chic. They never go out of style. And they might make you want to break out into a tap dance.
So…here are a few of my favourite monochrome shoes available right now. I’ve included loads of different styles – from sandals to winkle pickers – but they all tick that black and white box. Happy shopping!
OK I admit, the shoes in pictures above and below are verging on a flatform. But it’s from the catwalk of one of my favourite brands – Marni – so you’ll forgive me having a little perve over these sandals as they look pretty comfortable, as well as being totally amazing. Not only that, they demonstrate perfectly a lovely little trend that’s emerging on the high street: track sole sandals.
“Has she gone mad?” you cry! “It’s February and she’s telling me about SANDALS?!”
Well no, actually. I’m a firm believer in buying the best of the new season before it sells out so you’re fully prepared for any unseasonal barmy weather that might unexpectedly come along. I remember one Valentine’s Day in the Nineties when it was 21 degrees! Of course, I was ready with my sandals – Converse One Star suede slides – remember those? Anyway, hear me out.
What I like about this style of sandal is that they look cool and are REALLY practical. The track sole is meant to look like the treads in a tire, and what does that mean? Grip! As much as I love a beautiful pair of Italian sandals, leather soles can be a bit lethal for the first few wears. And those ankle straps mean they’ll be great for wearing on long walks. I do love a good long walk. I expect more styles to be available later in the season, but for now, here are my favourites.
As with about 50% of the trends on the high street, you can blame Celine’s Phoebe Philo for the current trend for tartan skate shoes. I have to say, I wasn’t sure about it at first (the check looked a little bit too much like cheap laundry bags for my liking) but I’ve really come round to these heritage print sneakers, especially now that you can pick them up for a MUCH lower price than Celine was charging in the summer. And they feel particularly seasonal too, so great to wear at Christmas. Plus – and see my last post for details – there’s nothing quite as convenient as a slip-on (and therefore slip-off) pair of shoes at this time of year. Here are a few of my favourite styles…
It’s a week until Christmas Eve! Which has me thinking about my Christmas Day outfit already (I know, I know – but I like to forward plan!). And other than the actual slippers that you’ll no doubt be given and have to wear at some point (hopefully from Mahabis or UGG – my favourite slippers) I reckon you can’t go wrong with a pair of smoking slippers on Christmas Day. Why? For starters, they often come in snazzy festive materials like velvet, pony skin or metallics. They’re slip-on, slip-off, so perfect to kick off in the evening when you all settle down to watch the Eastenders Christmas special/play the Pointless board game/sleep off the turkey. And best of all, they go with absolutely everything from an LBD to boyfriend jeans. Here’s my pick of the best if you fancy treating yourself this week, though do check delivery options if you really need these by Christmas Day – otherwise, I suggest some good old fashioned in person shopping in an actual shop…
Party season: a phrase that fills girls who hate sparkly dresses and heels with dread. I for one would much rather just sling on my best jeans, a cashmere sweater and a slick of eyeliner when I’m off to a mulled wine gathering. But, as you know, I am partial to a snazzy pair of shoes, so will sanction the use of metallics and glitter when it’s confined to a place you wouldn’t expect to see it, like a masculine pair of shoes. This Christmas I’m motioning for tomboys everywhere to buck the dress code and invest in a pair of amazing silver masculine shoes to wear with whatever the hell you like. Because when your feet are this well dressed, no-one cares what the rest of your outfit looks like.
I’d love to see what party shoes you’re wearing this festive season – don’t forget to tweet me pictures of your feet to @EnBrogue.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there’s nothing more disappointing than trying on a pair of snuggly sheepskin or fleece lined boots, only to discover that the snuggly bit stops before it reaches your feet. I don’t get it! That’s where you need it the most! I really hate having cold feet, so I’m always on the hunt for winter boots that keep my toes warm. And you’ll be pleased to hear that not only did I spend today hunting, but also putting my hands inside these boots in store so I could tell you with absolute confidence that THESE boots are furry ALL THE WAY TO THE TOE.
Let’s start with these smart biker boots from Zara. They’re real leather so good quality but still come in way under £100 which isn’t bad value at all. The furry lining is really soft and looks great rolled over under the buckles. Plus that rubber sole will grip on slippery surfaces. Practical AND stylish!
Next up, ALDO. Rather short sightedly, they’ve not shot them for the website with the lovely sheepskin lining rolled over so I’ve included a picture I took in store as I think they look much nicer styled this way. I REALLY like these boots. They’ve got a bit of a workman’s boot feel to them but are very chic, too. Again, the lining extends all the way to the toe.
How nice are these sneaker-style boots from Dune? I have some old Puma high tops with a furry lining that I live in when it’s cold; you’d be surprised how useful a super-warm pair of trainers can be. My Pumas are lace ups, but the zips on these boots mean you can make a feature of that lovely lining. Good old Dr Martens has got on board as well – they only have this tan colour on the Office website but I spied black ones in store which I preferred as they’re such a classic. And Red or Dead’s desert boot style are great if, like me, you’re always drawn to mod-style shoes. Bring on the cold weather Britain – I’m ready for you!
NB: while all of these particular boots will keep your toes warm, some of these brands have other styles available that look like they will be lined all the way to the toe but the lining stops at the ankle! If in doubt, go in store and try for yourself.
Following on from my recent observation of walking sandals on the SS15 catwalks (read about that here), I thought I should point out a related trend that’s a little more season appropriate: walking boots.
Now, I have genuinely been coveting Mr Brogue’s actual hiking boots for some years (we do a lot of walking on the Isle of Wight and he has a rather snazzy expensive pair) so was thrilled to spot these at Penelope Chilvers’ autumn preview back in the spring (although if I bought these beauties I wouldn’t be trekking through muddy fields in them!). I love the sturdy rubber sole, those contrast laces and the hooks in place of holes at the top. They’re called Atlas and you can buy them for £299 here.
Penelope must be as fond of walking as I am, as she’s also got the Rodriguez boot for this season (above), available in three different colours. I’d style them exactly like this with turned up jeans, but perhaps with the addition of a brightly colour sock. There are loads more hiking styles on the high street too…here are a few of my favourites.
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…
I have loved the Chelsea Flower Show ever since I was off sick about twelve years ago and realised that watching this most British of institutions on TV made me feel much better. There’s something so comforting about these people who are so passionate about plants and landscaping, and seeing those beautiful gardens, too. Plus it gets me all inspired for, like, about two days, about my own garden (which is currently fighting a losing battle with snails, ivy, and the neighbours’ cats – or more specifically, their poo). I’ve never actually been though, until this week, and it was wonderful! Of course, I celebrated the occasion by wearing appropriate footwear – these Liberty print Y.M.C. skate shoes from last summer. A few people asked me about them on Twitter and Instagram and unfortunately I can’t find evidence of them still being available, but I’ve found a few floral alternatives (below) that you might like. Oh, and how amazing are these brogue plant pots?! That’s my Christmas present sorted, Mr Brogue…
Ancient Greek Sandals’ monogramming service
Last week I had tea with Christina and Nikolas, the founders of one of my favourite brands, Ancient Greek Sandals. I love these shoes for their authenticity; the leather and craftsmanship is so beautiful that they really could have been made in ancient Greece by an artisan cobbler. Christina and Nikolas were kind enough to give me a sneak preview of their new monogramming service, which will be available online from June 1st.
My favourite style for the service is Thais. The cross-over slide-style feels so current with this season’s trend for pool shoes, but being made of leather they will have far more longevity than some of the more “fashion” shoes made from man-made materials. I can imagine myself wearing them for decades to come and if they are anything like my other pairs, they will only get better with age (I even dropped one pair in a swimming pool but the leather was even nicer once they had dried off!). These ones are the natural leather colour, but they are available in twelve different shades including the yellow ones below. Head to ancient-greek-sandals.com next month to bag yourself a hot stamped personalised pair. It will be £5 for the first letter and £2 for each additional letter.
Louis Vuitton cruise show in Monaco
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be flown out to Monaco (for work!!) to see the first ever Louis Vuitton cruise fashion show, designed by the wonderful Nicholas Ghesquiere. It was the perfect opportunity to debut my Havva sandals and I’m pleased to report that they are INCREDIBLY comfortable. They have a lovely squidgy insole (a little like you get with Clarks shoes) but they look and feel super-chic, not like a shoe that has necessarily been designed for comfort. Highly recommended from En Brogue – and look how much fun we had together!
High street shoe of the week
Something brilliant happened this week: my mum went all Marni on me. She’s a massive fan of Birkenstocks, but I never thought she would consider a pair of chunky jewelled sandals like these amazing ones from Zara – dead ringers for a Marni pair I tried on at Bicester Village a few weeks ago. Sadly, I couldn’t quite persuade her to buy them, but I’m hoping that writing about her on here will make her reconsider and she will get them! They’re a gorgeous shade of light grey and somehow those stones don’t look too bling. Go on mum, buy them! Before they sell out!
I got married ten years ago this September. I knew exactly what I wanted – from dress, to table settings, to location – but what to wear on my feet had me really stumped. This was back in the day when I still wore heels from time to time – for “special occasions” and job interviews – so I did feel a certain pressure to wear them on my wedding day. I ended up choosing a pair of awful sling back kitten heels; as much height as I could reasonably manage without falling over. I couldn’t bear to spend more than £35 on them because I knew that a) I would never EVER wear them again and b) I would kick them off and patter about barefoot the second the ceremony and pictures were over. I was right about both of these things – they were discarded before we even sat down to eat, never to be worn again.
If I was getting married now I would do things SO differently. My dress -rather than being long and very traditional – would be knee length, meaning it would show off my fantastic flat shoes (they’d obviously be fantastic these days). I’m helping a friend shop for flat wedding shoes at the moment, and as I’ve already done the research for her, I thought I would share it with you too…
If you want a traditional look
There are brands that specifically make flat shoes for weddings, and I’ve listed some of them here, but if you want that very traditional look you’re in luck as thanks to Simone Rocha (John Rocha’s daughter, a hot name on the London Fashion Week circuit), they’re also bang on trend. Look for lace, pearls and satin, and if you want a more modern feel, avoid ballet pumps and opt for a pointy pump instead.
If you want shoes you’ll wear again
I think the best option for a pair of shoes you can then wear after your wedding is a metallic pointy flat. They look wonderful with anything from a classic little black dress to jeans and a white T-shirt. You can’t move for metallic pointy flats at the moment, both on the high street and at more high end brands too, so this is an absolute winner as far as choice is concerned.
If you’re more unconventional
Who says you can’t adopt a less feminine look for your wedding day? Not me. Last year I read a wonderful blog post about a couple who had both got married wearing Grenson (read it here – they also have tiles to die for, and you lot know how much I love tiles!) which was inspiring. Not all women like to wear frilly dresses and delicate shoes, so here’s a selection of brogues that I think would look amazing with a trouser suit, or a short, A-line shift. In fact, I think this last category would be my choice if I were doing it all over again…maybe me and Mr Brogue should just have a good old knees-up for our anniversary. Any excuse for a new pair of shoes…
So if you are getting married, don’t feel pressured into wearing heels if you really don’t want to. There’s nothing better than feeling yourself, being comfortable, and not being in so much pain that you can’t dance to the band you paid a lot of money to play at the reception. Oh, and tweet me pictures of you in your flat shoes at weddings too – whether you’re the bride, a bridesmaid or a guest, I’d love to see you all being comfortably stylish!