Welcome to my new feature, coming to you on a regular basis: En Brogue In Full – pictures that include my whole outfit, instead of just my feet. I’ve been getting requests from readers for years to give more styling tips on how to wear your rest of your outfit with your flat shoes, so with a little help from a photographer and more time on my hands now I am freelance (deep breath – I’m not a natural model!)… here goes!
Firstly, I want to tell you a bit about me, and particularly, my figure. I’m 41 years old, 5ft3″ and size 10-12 (depending on the shop/cut/my mood) and none of these pictures of me will be retouched (wrinkles and all, guys!). I’m probably the ideal candidate to wear heels (bizarrely, I have very long thighs in relation to my lower legs), but since I don’t own any heels and don’t plan to, I have to be a little more imaginative with making outfits work for me. Some things I just steer clear of completely (I’m not a fan of low necklines or anything figure-hugging) but a little experimentation has helped me realise I CAN wear things that I previously thought were off limits, like ankle length dresses and culottes, for example. I’m not made of model proportions, nor am I a spring chicken, which is one of the reasons I’ve been a little shy about doing this in the past. But equally, it’s the reason I want to do it now. The fashion world is really catching up with diversity but it still has a way to go; I’ve found so many women on Instagram and writing fashion blogs that are more inspiring for me, personally, because they look more like I do.
Suit, COS (old); Kodak T-shirt, £30, Jigsaw (jigsaw-online.com); Monokel sunglasses, £105 bought at Ruskin, Whitstable (ruskinclothing.co.uk); belt pack, Manu Atelier (old); mi adidas Samba trainers (old – design similar at adidas.co.uk)
PHOTOGRAPHY ZAC FRACKELTON
Anyway, we’re kicking off with trouser suits. At my height, there are plenty that I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of wearing (much as I adore the long baggy strides look, I’m short enough to actually get lost in a pair), so I would always opt for a style that is either cropped just above the ankle bone, or that is made of a fabric that I can turn up neatly. I think one of the reasons I’ve always preferred flat shoes is that I never like to look too “done up”, so I usually dress a suit down with a T-shirt (ideally with a logo to jazz it up a bit) and trainers. Predictable, moi?! Oh, and I’ve thrown in a bum bag here for good measure.
PHOTOGRAPHY ZAC FRACKELTON
My COS suit is from last year so isn’t available anymore, but I’ve found two that I really like on the high street right now (below). I suspect the Mango one would be a little long for me, but I love the styling with the Stan Smith-style kicks. The Topshop suit, however, is also available in petite, so it’s ideal. I had gone off Topshop a little as I’ve got older, but I went in store recently and was really pleasantly surprised (although – SENIOR KLAXON – the music playing in store made me want to cut off my ears). It has LOADS of cropped trouser suit options, including a bright yellow one as well as the checked version you see here. I find the trick to not feeling horrible about yourself in the changing rooms is to go up a size – I am comfortably a Topshop 12 in trousers, whereas I usually wear a 10 for bottoms and a 12 on my top half (because, boobs – another part of my body I’ve found harder to dress as I’ve got older).
Foot-wise, I’m going with a bare ankle – I may be a fan of snazzy socks, but pair them with a suit and you could end up looking a little like Jon Snow on Channel 4 News (while I do love his socks, it’s not the look I’m going for). And then I’ve finished the outfit with a pair of retro sneakers. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am partial to a pair of adidas Gazelles; I find their slim silhouette very flattering and their clean lines work really well with tailoring, but any of these styles below would look equally as good, depending on the suit.
1.adidas Gazelles, £74.95 (adidas.co.uk); 2. Converse One Stars, £65 (converse.com); Grenson Sneaker 1, £160 (grenson.com); 4. Rose Rankin Coney, £95 (roserankin.com); Spring Court Velcro, £85 (second-store.com); Superga 2750 Classic, £50 (superga.co.uk)
I’d love to know what you think! Leave comments below, and also let me know if there are other themes that you’d like to see me tackle.