This is a blog for people who love stylish footwear without the pain, bunions and back problems. Just because a shoe doesn't have a 4.5 inch heel, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful. From brogues to boots, pumps to penny loafers, sneakers to sandals, I'd like to share with you my favourite comfortable footwear.
I am Hannah Rochell, Features Editor at fashion magazine InStyle in London, so I come across a lot of non-heeled beauties! I hope you enjoy reading about them.
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Sunday at London fashion week means one of my favourite shows: Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. I had the pleasure of interviewing the couple behind the brand – Justin and Thea – for a feature for InStyle last year and they were just lovely. They also make REALLY great clothes, so it’s always worth getting up early on a Sunday morning to see their presentation at London fashion week.
Today was no exception – as soon as I arrived I spotted the catwalk. It looked like a pavement and was littered with brightly coloured dried flowers. Then the show itself was gorgeous, and included some cool leather sandals styled with lace ankle socks. But I was surprised to learn that the sandals were a collaboration with an unexpected brand. They are a collaboration with UGG.
You can say what you like about UGG, but this is a brand that knows how to reinvent itself. Last summer they challenged me to wear a pair of their summer boots or trainers every day for a week and I was more surprised than anyone that a) it was easy and b) I loved them (you can read that here). Even if you’re not a fan of their classic boots (though I recommend them as slippers if nothing else), it’s well worth checking out what else they do. And now they do catwalk shoes. Cool, eh?!
As well as the slides in black and white leather, there are flatforms, but they are a little too high for me (particularly while recovering from a sprained ankle!). They will be available to buy in February 2017.
It’s day one of London fashion week everyone! And I have some lovely flat shoe news to report back. Barely a month goes by, it seems, without me being able to tell you something exciting that Converse is up to, and today it debuted its collaboration with the brand Shrimps, who are known for their faux fur fun designs. The four customised styles involved the texture you would expect from Shrimps – I particularly loved this checkered pair. There’s no news on whether or when they will be available to buy yet but I will keep you posted!
In other Converse news, you may remember earlier this year my excitement when the brand re-released the One Star trainers that I had been lusting after since I wrote my second book – En Brogue: The Trainers Guide – and illustrated a pair because I couldn’t get hold of a pair to photograph (you can read about that here). Well, they’ve just released four new colours, including this very on-trend dusky pink (my friend Maz will be pleased about that – her mum threw away her stinky pink One Stars in 1997) and coffee brown, as well as a grey and icy blue. They’re just £64.99 from the Converse website (and I’ve double checked, they do go down to smaller sizes, right down to a 2.5!).
But back to London fashion week. Long term readers of this blog may remember when I ran a competition with the London College of Fashion giving students the chance to design the perfect party flats. Well, the winner of that competition (judged by me! You can read about that here) was Anna Domnich, and I’ve been following her career with interest ever since. Today, I was admiring the flat shoes at the wonderful Eudon Choi show (no heels on that catwalk at all) but I didn’t realise until I looked at Instagram later on that they were designed by Anna! Her brand is called Ganor Dominic and you can follow her on Instagram here. I’m going to pop in and see her stand at fashion week tomorrow to check out more of her shoes up close so check back here for more news on that.
But right now, I need to go an plan my outfits for the next three weeks because I have literally no idea what I’m going to wear! I’ll be posting full outfit looks on Instagram too (reluctantly, but at the request of my followers!) so you can find out what flat shoes I am wearing every day over there. Until then, wine!
I’ve always loved Red Wing boots, particularly when they’re paired with a pair of selvedge jeans and a hefty turn-up. Unfortunately for me though, selvedge jeans in my size aren’t the easiest thing to track down and as for size 4 Red Wing boots? Completely impossible. Well, until today that is.
As of right now, Red Wing does boots for women! So here I am sporting my first ever pair of Classic Moc boots (the style I’ve always coveted). I think this is a fantastic move by Red Wing, and reminds me of when Grenson introduced its women’s shoes for the first time (the brand hasn’t looked back since and I love them so much I named my dog after them). Because why on earth shouldn’t women get to wear the same styles as men? Regular readers of this blog will know that it drives me mad when I go into a trainer store and request the pair I want in my size, only to be told that they start at a size 6 and to be directed to the “women’s” section of pink and turquoise styles. I don’t want pink trainers!
The tide is turning though, and as well as being increasingly satisfied when I’m shopping for trainers, I can now add another menswear shoes brand to my list of favourites. I’ve been wearing these boots for a few weeks now (Red Wing very kindly sent me a pair to try out before the launch date) and can report that they are bouncy and comfortable and an absolute joy to wear. These were developed as workwear boots, so they’re sturdy and durable at the same time as being lightweight. The ‘Moc’ bit in the name refers to the moccasin style stitching on the toe, and I really REALLY love the off-white crepe sole.
This is one of the oldest Red Wing styles and is a best seller – they no doubt look familiar to you already from having seen men wearing them (there are other styles available too – see above – but the Mocs are my favourites). They don’t come cheap at £249, but with a brand heritage like this you can bet that they’re built to last (I’ve checked with my male friends who have been wearing them for years and they confirmed this). And they’re easy to integrate into your wardrobe; just add the old favourite turned up jeans and Breton top combo and you’re good to go.
The boots are available to buy from September 1st in store at 17 Newburgh Street, London W1 and from September 6th online at redwingheritage.com
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 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 – there are still a few of the grey and yellow ones left and the new navy and orange style goes on sale on Friday September 2nd. 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…