Introducing not the most practical trend, nor the newest idea in the world, but the high street has gone crazy for ballet pumps – and this time they have ribbons on – so here I am telling you about it. Anyone who, like me, attended actual ballet classes every Saturday morning for 15 years, might not find this idea all that appealing, but they do look very pretty. And the best part is, they’re cheap!
Ballet pumps in general are coming back this year, thanks to a spattering of them on the autumn/winter 2016 catwalks. Valentino in particular showed models in ballet shoes that looked very much like the real thing in fleshy pink shades as well as more practical black. The dance theme in general is big for next season – leggings were all over the place, which is great news for those dresses hanging in the back of your wardrobe with a massive slit up the side that you haven’t worn since 2003. But unlike Valentino, I wouldn’t advise pairing yours with leggings. And definitely not with a tutu.
As with most trends that are borrowed from a specific activity, the key is to team your pretty ballet shoes with clothing as far removed as possible from something you would wear to an actual ballet class. Both ASOS and Zara have got their styling spot on, I think, with these cropped frayed blue jeans (NB remember you don’t have to invest in new jeans to get this look, just get your scissors out. I am currently wearing evidence of this as I write).
My other word of caution with ballet pumps is that they offer your feet little to no support (although these Zara one do look like they have a relatively substantial sole). Ballet pumps are NOT the key to finding shoes you can walk to walk in. I have a problem with one of my big toes that I am convinced dates back to the Kate Moss-led ballet pump trend of the early Noughties when I was a fashion intern and walked everywhere to save money. However, the fact that they are back on trend will be welcome relief for those of you who are sick of hearing me go on about pointy flats being the key to wearing flats to posh events but find them excruciatingly uncomfortable (I do listen to you, people!). So while I won’t be rushing out to get a pair myself due to an arthritic big toe and years of spending Saturday mornings tying up the ribbons on my pointe shoes, I know plenty of you will. I’d love to know your thoughts on ballet pumps in general – leave comments below or tweet me @EnBrogue!
So the Rio Olympics kicked off yesterday, and Converse have done something brilliant to celebrate. Teaming up with Sao Paolo fashion brand PatBo (OK, they’re not from Rio but they ARE from Brazil so it’s FINE everyone – it’s a small detail I’m happy to overlook!) they’ve released these carnival-tastic takes on the classic All Stars. And I absolutely LOVE them!
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair yesterday and I spent the day fending off compliments from people. I mean, they look amazing, but then when people realise that they are Converse the love for them just multiplies ten-fold. Oh, and then they spot the pink sole and they’re practically swooning on the spot. People do love their Converse, don’t they?! (I’m including myself and my collection of 11 pairs dating back as far as 1990 in that statement, by the way)
Available in four styles (well, five actually, but the fifth is a wedge so let’s just give that a miss), they’re a little more expensive than your average Chucks ranging from £80 – £95, but having been up close and personal with a pair, I can tell you that they look far more expensive than that. The embroidery is absolutely beautiful, and the laces are a sort of silky texture, threading through concealed fabric loops rather than your average lace holes. The pair below are actually painted leather and have a zip in place of the laces.
They might look a little on the flamboyant side (that’s Brazil for you, folks) but actually, because they’re just a pair of trusty Cons, you already know how to style them up. I actually think nothing looks better with bright colours like this than blue denim, and the black embellished Ox style (below) is good enough to wear with a dress for a night out.
P.S. For those of you who were showing love for my 10-year-old yellow Converse that I was wearing last weekend, I noticed that they have some in ‘bitter lemon’ available at the moment – a slightly different shade but pretty close. And for those of you who loved my 26-year-old ‘grape’ pair, there is a similar colour called ‘frozen lilac’ online now. You can find both in the Converse ‘fresh colours‘ section.
I’ve been dying to tell you about this for ages: I’ve done a sock collaboration! The lovely people at The Sock Council – a club dedicated to the love of snazzy socks – got in touch and asked if I would be interested in designing some socks and of course I said yes right away. Because if there’s one thing I love almost as much as flat shoes (oh, and patterned tiles) it’s snazzy socks!
I’ve never designed socks before, but essentially it was about choosing a print idea and some colour combinations that I thought represented En Brogue well. I even had a go at painting the design myself! But it turns out watercolours don’t really translate to woven sock designs, so…
Anyway, we settled on a paisley design and two different colours. The first, grey and yellow, is available to buy TODAY from 7pm (Friday July 29th), and the second, orange and navy, will be available soon. I am THRILLED with them! They’re snazzy but still quite subtle, and the colours just look brilliant. These socks are fabulous quality too; made in Wales from 100% cotton with hand linked heel and toe, they’re nice and lightweight so good for the summer as well as the winter. I already had some Sock Council socks in my repertoire and can report that they wash very nicely too (these things are important, budding sock connoisseurs!).
The socks come in two sizes, small (fits sizes 3 to 6) and large (fits 7 to 11), so I’m happy that Mr Brogue will be sporting them too. They are limited edition, only 74 pairs. As you can see, I’ve tried them with a fair few pairs from my shoe collection and they seem to look great with pretty much everything! They’re £16.50 per pair, and that includes first class recorded delivery. If you buy yourself some, I would love to see you wearing them, so do remember to tag me on Instagram or Twitter @EnBrogue with the tag EnBrogueXSockCouncil. Happy socking, everyone!
I’ve always loved trainers with a gum sole – that’s the slightly yellowish, slightly see-through sole that tends to be used on more retro-style trainers – since I got my first pair of adidas Superstars back in 1995. You may have read me talking about these trainers before, because I loved them so much I slept with them on my pillow so they’d be the first thing I saw when I woke up the next morning, and I think they are my favourite trainers of all time. Well they were, until I hopped on to the mi adidas website and designed a pair that are the absolute dream.
I’ve been holding off using the amazing function on the adidas website to design my own pair of trainers, because they didn’t used to have the option of a gum sole. But on a recent play around (it’s worth a play, even if you have no intention of buying) I noticed you could choose a gum sole with a pair of Sambas. And before I could prevent it happening, I was buying my ultimate sneakers, and my requirements were sent off to Germany to be made up. These beauties were the result – and yes, it does say En Brogue on the side!
Adidas, in their ultimate wisdom, have also brought out gum soles with their new reissue Gazelles (in case you missed it, adidas have decided that 2014 was the year of the Stan Smith, 2015 the year of the Superstar, and now 2016 is the year of the Gazelle). They’re available in six shades, and even more options if you fancy the classic white sole instead. Gazelles are another of my all-time favourite styles; I love that slightly slimmer line as it’s really feminine and looks great with skirts and dresses.
For me, a gum sole just looks so much more cool than plain white. It feels like a more considered look – a more fashion option, and with that ever cool hint of times past. And it’s not just adidas that are at it – I love these Novestar pumps (above) from uber-cool east end trainer mecca Pam Pam. You really can’t argue with that price, and they’re made using ethical practices, too. Fred Perry’s tennis shoes are also an absolute classic, and you can always rely on Gola for a dose of retro.
I’m back! I don’t think I’ve ever left it this long between blog posts, but we’ve been on holiday for two weeks and I’m not the kind of gal to take my laptop away with me. Mainly because I don’t actually own a laptop, but there you go.
Anyway, thankfully I’ve left it long enough that the weather seems to finally be on the up and we can talk about summer shoes. Because really, who out there has actually bothered with a pedicure and popped on a pair of sandals since that one hot weekend in May that now seems like a distant memory?! Certainly not me.
My new sandals for this summer are from an old tried and trusted brand – Ancient Greek Sandals. OK, they’re not actually that old, but I’ve been wearing a pair since they first launched about five years ago and I love them. The quality is brilliant (even surviving being dropped in a swimming pool) and they’re design classics, so look great with everything year after year. This season they’ve brought out a range in frayed denim, which is not only more comfortable and easier to wear in than their trademark tan leather, but is also bang on trend, as there are LOADS of textured sandals out there at the moment, particularly pool slides.
It doesn’t really matter what the texture is; fluffy, frayed, feathered or embellished. All the high end brands are doing them – Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Chloe, Simone Rocha – and very nice they are too, but rather pricey. Of course the very nature of this style means that they are more expensive than your standard rubber pool slides, what with there being sheepskin and sequins involved (that stuff all costs more to produce), but there are some cheaper versions if you don’t want to break the bank (although I just HAD to include the Avec Moderation slides – above – for outfit inspiration, because they literally make nothing but textured pool slides and I love this look with the striped dress, so forgive me for that). Here is a round-up of some of the more affordable textured pool slides out there right now. And some of them are already in the sale! Whoop!
It’s that time of year again! Liberty launched its new collaboration with Nike today, and you’re going to LOVE all of the styles available. I’m a big fan of this ongoing relationship (one of my first illustrations for my first book, En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels. was of Liberty print Nike Air Max, and a pair of Liberty print Nike Blazers made it onto the front cover of my second book, En Brogue: The Trainers Guide) and I really love the print they’ve chosen this year, called ‘Dawn Meadow’.
In stark comparison to last year’s 1970s flag print – which I loved but was a tad controversial – Dawn Meadow is back on track with a delicate floral print; it’s a botanical style originally painted in watercolour and placed on a white background which feels really fresh and seasonal. The lime greens and pops of orange are bright but not so in your face that you wouldn’t be able to wear a pair with, well, pretty much anything.
In more exciting news, this year you can get yourself a pair of pool slides. Not only bang on trend and great for the summer, but considerably cheaper than some of the other styles at £55. It’s nice to have something more affordable as all the other styles are nearly (or in the case of the Zoom Vapours, over) £100. I know loads of you really look forward to these being release each year, so I’d love to know which styles are your favourites. Leave comments below!
A few weeks ago a brand I hadn’t heard of before got in touch and asked if I fancied road-testing their shoes. So that was nice! The brand was Punkawala, and it makes shoes inspired by travels in India, but created right here in London. There are only four designs available at the moment but I think that’s great: by keeping things simple and offering a variety of colour options you’re more likely to get it right first time as a small new business. And get it right they certainly have.
The style I tried out are the ‘Punka’ (above) – a mega-lightweight desert boot with a colourful rubber sole. Regular readers of this blog and my books will know I am a huge fan of desert boots so this aesthetic really appealed to me (just add turned up jeans and a Fred Perry and you’re good to go). Mine are brown suede with an orange sole but you can get them in eight different colour combinations. I admit, it took me AGES to decide which option I wanted!
Also available are the ‘Chukka’ (very similar to the Punka but higher on the ankle, above), the ‘Dance’ (a slipper style and a alternative to your espadrilles this summer, below) and the ‘Beat’ (a Chelsea boot) – the latter two styles both have coordinating coloured elastic gussets to match that bright rubber sole, and the lace-ups have matching laces, too. I like that kind of attention to detail. All are available in eight colour combos so be prepared to spend a lot of time scratching your head!
Anyway, back to that road test because I’m sure you’re dying to know how I got on. From the second I put them on my feet I knew it was love. These are some SERIOUSLY comfortable shoes. Honestly, it felt like wearing slippers. Only better. They remind me of the jazz shoes that I used to wear for dance classes because the sole is so flexible. In fact, I think I could easily do a dance class wearing them! They’ll certainly come in handy for dancing to Northern Soul at this August’s Isle of Wight scooter rally (desert boots are virtually mandatory for attendance). They’re not the sort of shoes I’ll be wearing for long walks with the dog (they don’t offer masses of support), and I have sprayed them to protect the suede from the elements, but as a lightweight summer shoe when you live in a country that’s not always sunny in the summer, I really don’t think you could do much better.
Oh and I forgot to mention the best bit! They’re less than fifty quid! The Punka and Dance styles are actually less than forty pounds. Remember I said it would take you ages to decide which pair to buy? Maybe you could even stretch to treating yourself to two pairs…
Remember last year when everyone suddenly started wearing Teva sandals? Well, that trend is going nowhere this summer, as I discovered when the nice people at Teva took me to Portugal this week to celebrate their new summer collection. Lucky me!
If you’re not already familiar with the brand, Teva makes really practical sandals – a simple rubber sole like a flip-flop but with velcro straps – with a spirit for adventure. They came about in 1984 when a Grand Canyon river guide was so fed up with losing flip-flops to the currents, he took a couple of Swatch watch straps and attached them to his shoes. Genius! The result was waterproof, comfortable sandals that stayed firmly attached to your legs when hiking, surfing or getting up to some other kind of outdoors activity.
I love my Teva sandals but I admit to being pretty lazy, and if a slip-on option like a pool slide is available, I’m fairly likely to go for that pair instead. I know, ridiculous, but especially when I’m on holiday, I really can’t be bothered to fasten my shoes. So it was with great delight that I discovered a pair of Teva slides in my goody bag when we reached our hotel on the Algarve. They have that trademark laid-back look of Original Tevas, but without the – admittedly not all that difficult – hassle of doing up some velcro. They also have leather straps, so have a little touch of luxury, but there are fabric versions available too if you think you might be getting yours wet.
Of course if you want your Tevas for the very reason they were initially designed – to not fall off – then have a browse of the Originals collection. There are LOADS of colour options available and they’re very reasonably priced. They’re also still totally on trend – I really like them paired with tailored trousers and sweatshirts as it’s a little incongruous. When Mr Brogue and I head on our walking tour of Devon later this year, I’ll definitely be packing my Originals (and I might buy him a pair too).
Anyway, back to that trip to Portugal, because I just have to tell you more about those nice people from Teva. After lunch with a stunning view and a surf lesson, we headed to a party with a load of people from Teva’s European HQ in Rotterdam. And boy did these guys know how to throw a party; at one point, they brought a load of house plants on to the dance floor for us to hold – incredibly weird but really funny! My favourite thing though, was that so many of the guys had styled their Tevas with VERY snazzy socks. What an absolute joy! Perhaps not a look I’ll be going for myself however, though I would definitely wear slim ribbed plain coloured socks with mine…
I have so much exciting stuff coming up over the next few months, and the good news for you for June is that you benefit from it too! (Well, I like to think that everything I do on this blog benefits you guys somehow, but you know what I mean) Anyway, for the whole month of June I have teamed up with Northern Cobbler to give you 15% off, exclusively with En Brogue. WHOOP!
Regular readers of this blog will know I am a HUGE fan of Northern Cobbler. They make shoes firmly rooted in a traditional style but with a modern, feminine twist (they also do men’s shoes, with less of a feminine twist, that this discount code also works for). The shoes are beautifully made with an amazing focus on little details – think brogue holes on sandals and an illustration of a fish on every sole (each pair is named after a type of fish). Not only that, they’re really comfortable. Of COURSE they are; I wouldn’t be featuring them on this blog if they weren’t.
I’m showcasing a few of my favourite styles here but there are more available online too. I’ve also got a bit of a penchant for white Northern Cobbler shoes as you can see (all of my own pairs are white – handy for weddings. Top tip!) but there are lots of other colours online too.
While we’re on the subject of my own collection of Northern Cobbler shoes, can I just point out the Stonefish trainers (above). They always sell out so nab yourself a pair while they’re still available! Oh, and they go with EVERYTHING – they’re leather too, so smart enough to wear to work.
To get your discount, simply enter the code ENB16 at checkout. It’s valid for the whole of June. Enjoy!
The longer I write this blog, the more I think I should start two subsidiary blogs – one about tiles, and the other about socks. Because there’s absolutely no way you can be obsessed with flat shoes and not become totally nuts about those two things as well. A beautifully tiled floor and a pair of snazzy socks will always make my brogues look better. So it is with much delight that I introduce you to my newest snazzy socks discovery: Oybo.
Oybo is an Italian socks brand and at first glance appears to simply sell really nice patterned socks. But look a little closer and you’ll notice something different…every pair is ever so slightly odd. I know, brilliant, right?! I actually didn’t notice the first time I looked at a pair, because they’ve cleverly made them look *almost* the same. It’s not like people will think you got dressed in the dark or have had a particularly stressful week at work and didn’t have time to wash/locate a matching pair: it’s very clear that you’re intentionally wearing odd – or to quote Oybo – untuned socks.
I now have a couple of pairs in my possession and the whole experience is pretty wonderful. The socks come wrapped in tissue paper that matches the colour of the pattern and in lovely cardboard packaging (#attentiontodetail). They’re quite pricey but the quality is brilliant, and they wash really well too (though I would avoid the tumble drier). And they look absolutely amazing, obviously! I’ve had a few people on Instagram that just can’t deal with it – perhaps if you’ve an inclination to perfection these aren’t the socks for you – but I found wearing odd socks a surprisingly uplifting experience. I didn’t see that coming!
There are loads of styles and lengths available, and they have collections for men and kids too (Mr Brogue has just ordered himself a pair). The website is an absolutely joy to look at; the design is more like a magazine spread than an e-commerce site. Don’t be put off by the fact that the prices are in Euros as they ship to the UK no problem. And to top it all off, I have an exciting project with Oybo coming up later in the summer, but more on that soon…