You may have read about Rose Rankin London sneakers on this blog before, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with the brand I’ll just say this: they’re LOVELY. Rose designs really smart leather trainers that are chic enough to wear to work (should your office dress code allow it) but they’re also incredibly comfortable. I realise I say that about most of the shoes I feature on here, but my Rose Rankin trainers are definitely in the top five most comfortable – so that’s more comfortable than most of my regular sports trainers, too.
The shoes you can win are these Simmy mid-tops in white with an iridescent trim worth £169. I love them. As they’re a mid-top, rather than a high-top, they’re really flattering because you can still see the slim part of your ankle. And of course, everyone knows that white trainers go with everything! I’d wear these with turned up jeans (as I do with all my shoes!) but they look lovely with bare legs too, and I noticed when I shot these they have the added bonus of making your legs look more tan!
To enter you need to do the following really simple things:
Follow both @EnBrogue and @roserankin_ldn on Instagram
Post a pic of my illustration (above) of the trainers on Instagram (I will post it on there too so you can use regram apps if you like)
Use the hashtag #EnBrogueXRoseRankin and tag both @EnBrogue and @roserankin_ldn in the image (so we can find your entry!)
You must enter before midnight (GMT) on Monday May 30th 2016
Easy! Please bear in mind that the trainers are only available in sizes 37-41, and that the winner’s pair won’t be available to ship until June 6th 2016. Good luck!
OK, let’s start with me admitting that this is a trend I haven’t personally got on board with yet, since in I don’t own a pair (strong emphasis on the word ‘yet’ there!). But the fashion team at InStyle have been rocking it ever since it’s been warm enough and I like it; they inspired me to hunt out the best high street options out there. What am I talking about? The unlikely popularity of the backless loafer.
You can blame Gucci’s Alessandro Michele for this, since he designed all sorts of backless loafers for his SS16 collection and everyone’s gone totally nuts for them. Intricately embroidered floral ones. Metallics ones. Furry insoled ones (I’m reliably informed that the fur is sustainable kangaroo, which is a by-product because it is farmed for its meat. So it’s basically sheepskin, but certainly not one for you vegetarians out there. Or kangaroo lovers for that matter). My personal favourite is the black and white gingham ones (above: swoon). If you’ve got a spare £380, you can nab yourself a pair of the shoes of the season from Matches. If not, I’ve found some pretty decent high street alternatives.
There are many benefits to the backless loafer, or squishy-down-back loafer, as some of these options are. They’re very smart, so make a good office shoe if the pointy ladylike flats I suggested earlier this week aren’t your thing. They feel a bit summery, while being substantial enough to withstand a British summertime of wind, rain and generally non-sandals weather. And if you find formal shoes hard to wear in around the heel area well, you just don’t need to worry about that because there is no back. *waves goodbye to Compeed blister plasters*
They’re pretty easy to style, too. InStyle’s fashion director Arabella Greenhill has been wearing her black ones with chic, all-black outfits. Our fashion assistant Hannah Lewis pairs hers with light coloured, frayed jeans. Both have been adhering to the only, and most important rule about wearing backless loafers, though: cropped trousers. The most flattering thing about these shoes is that they don’t hide your ankles, so show them off!
Following Wednesday’s news story about Nicola Thorp, the receptionist who was sent home because she refused to wear heels to work and started a petition to prevent employers stopping women wearing flats (read about that here), I thought it would be useful to round up for you the best flat shoes available right now to wear to the office. In doing so, I am assuming a few things:
That you aren’t lucky enough to work in an environment where you can wear pretty much whichever shoes you fancy, within reason, like I am.
That you are expected to conform to a smart dress code, which probably includes tailoring, and that you may feel more comfortable in a pencil skirt than trousers to do this.
That you’re looking for shoes with a neutral colour palette because frankly, your office isn’t really the place to explore your flamboyant side. With the exception of the last pair, which I couldn’t resist, these shoes should go with most of your office gear.
That when I say ‘yes! You can wear flat shoes to work!’, what you’re really looking for is a comfy alternative to a simple heeled court shoe, rather than to hear me harp on about how easy it is to wear trainers or brogues to the office. Because actually, that’s not really true, is it.
That you’re willing to spend money on real leather shoes, because if we’re going to take a stand on this ladies, we can’t rock up to work in tatty old ballerinas with holes in the soles now can we?! It’s still perfectly reasonable for your employer to expect you to look well put together.
That said, I do have a few tips to make wearing flat shoes in the office a little easier. Look for a lower cut vamp – the bit on the top of your foot – as showing more of the skin on your foot gives the illusion of elongating your legs. Opt for an almond or pointy toe; round toes are trickier to style elegantly (though of course, it is possible – see number 4, which shows a little toe cleavage). And if you are wearing trousers rather than a skirt, always show a flash of ankle because it’s much more flattering.
Right, now to the fun bit. My favourite 17 shoes – and there’s something for every budget here – available to buy right now. So there’s really no need to lug your heels around in your handbag, now is there?!
I don’t usually write news stories on this blog, but this one is important! An actor called Nicola Thorp (new hero!) was sent home without any pay when she turned up to work as a temp receptionist at PwC in London in flat shoes and refused to go out and buy a pair of heels. She even says she was ‘laughed at’ when she pointed out it was discriminatory because her male colleagues were allowed to wear flats.
This is obviously ridiculous, but when she called an employment helpline she was told that companies are allowed to enforce their own dress codes. That includes demanding that a woman purchase a pair of ‘two to four inch heels’ and also that she wears make-up.
Outraged, Nicola had started a petition to get the law changed so that no employer can force a woman to wear heels to work. Sign it now, people! Just click here…
Back in September last year, I watched Christopher Kane parade his latest incarnation of safety clasp designs: slip-on trainers. He has a thing for safety clasps: they appeared in his first ever London Fashion Week show in the form of fluorescent belts on neon bandage dresses, and more recently he has been revisiting the idea on bags and high tops. And they’re lovely, but very expensive (the slip ons are £295 at net-a-porter.com). Christopher Raeburn has also used them on sandals with his catwalk collection for Clarks Originals, and although they’re considerably cheaper at £75 (clarks.co.uk), sadly you can only get them from size 6 up as they are in the men’s collection. Foiled again by my tiny feet. So imagine my delight when I discovered these beauties!
People Footwear, the brand that makes these amazing pool slides, is new to the UK this season, and its Lennon Chiller sandals are still pretty hard to get hold of. But if you are willing to hunt them down, it’s definitely worth the effort. As well as being a massive tick as far as catwalk trends are concerned, they’re reasonably priced (£55) and are very, VERY comfortable. Like, Birkenstock comfortable, but without the first week of wearing in. Literally the most fantastically comfy shoes ever from the very second you put them on your feet. I’m not even exaggerating, honest.
In the recent heatwave I’ve struggled to find the will to wear anything else because as well as that comfortable thing, they seem to work with everything in my wardrobe. Even the fact that the temperature is rapidly dropping won’t stop me sporting my beloved Lennon Chillers, because they just so happen to look great with a pair of ribbed socks and culottes, too. Bonus.
If you’re a size 6 or more, you can pick up a pair in black or red from Zalando, but for smaller sizes and a range of colours, you’ll have to try in person at Choice Stores (Bluewater, Lakeside or Westfield Stratford) and soon at Size? on Carnaby Street. I know it’s old school, but you’ll be glad you made the effort, I promise! Oh and one final thing – they come wrapped in this beautiful illustrated tissue paper. You’re sold, right?
I love MUJI. The simplicity of everything in store really appeals to me, especially the stationery and those really nice coloured gel pens (I have dozens of them). But other than socks, I’ve never really shopped in MUJI for clothes. Until now.
For summer, it has brought out ‘customisable sneakers’. They’re not customisable like the adidas adicolor trainers from the ’80s (the ones that came with pens to draw on the white leather) but this version takes far less effort. Simply choose your sneakers – which are classic canvas and rubber tennis shoes priced at a very reasonable £24.95 – and then add some coloured laces and a snazzy patterned insole.
Now, you might wonder what the point is of a snazzy insole, what with your foot covering it up while you’re wearing the shoes and everything, but I have open shoe shelves so I like my shoes to look just as good when they are off my feet. Not only that, it gives you the option of replacing the original insole when it inevitably gets stinky in the hot weather. Because no-one likes stinky summer shoes.
The sneakers come in white (my favourite), red, navy and black. Because they’re such a classic style, they’ll go with everything in your wardrobe and add a distinctly French look to your outfit. They’re made from water-repellent organic cotton, too – bonus! All come with white laces (except the black, which come with black laces and also have a black rubber sole rather than white) and a plain insole. There are six coloured lace options (in addition to black and white, which you can also buy if you happen to need new laces, and they’re only £1.50) and the insoles are jaunty stripes or gingham (£6.95). If you have a store near you, it might be easier to buy in person as the sizes are a little confusing and I had to go down half a size. But I if you do I challenge you to come away without a little something extra for your new sneakers! They also have them in men’s sizes, and don’t forget to make sure your insole is the right size for your shoes!
Sometimes I find out about brands and I can’t believe I didn’t already know about them. Sometimes my friends tell me about brands and I think I’m listening at the time but actually I’ve probably had a couple of glasses of wine and I’m not concentrating properly. And sometimes I come across a brand and its shoes are so amazing I literally can’t stop talking about them. Blundstone boots are all of these things.
Blundstone – or Blunnies, as I have discovered they are more commonly known – are sturdy leather boots from Tasmania and the brand has been going since 1870. My mates who have spent time in Australia and New Zealand have tried to tell me about their virtues in the past and I now have to put my hands up and say I was a complete fool for not listening. I’d seen them in The Natural Shoe Store too, but until I got a dog, I wasn’t as obsessed with finding the perfect outdoor boots as I am now. (side note – The Natural Shoe Store now stocks both my books, En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels. and En Brogue: The Trainers Guide. Self-promotion plug over!)
Anyway! What’s so great about Blunnies? Firstly, they look great. The leather is so soft and smooth that they look like rubber from a distance (and if you’re lucky, the members of your Pilates class will line up to stroke them because they look so lovely. This happened to me). The classic ones are brown with a ‘rustic’ ready-worn-in look but I love my black ones with electric blue sole and elastic gusset (they also come in a red option). Second, and probably most importantly, they are INCREDIBLY comfortable. Like, in my top three ever most comfortable shoes kind of comfortable. And, considering how many pairs of shoes I’ve hoarded over the years, that’s saying something. The more you wear them, the more comfy they get, until you can’t very well imagine having to wear anything else.
I wear my Blunnies every single day. They’re the first shoes I put on in the morning to walk the dog, and the last I wear in the evening to, well, you guessed it, walk the dog. They’re brilliant for weekends because they look snazzy enough to take you from country walk to pub lunch. And I can tell you from experience that they are completely waterproof too, having got caught out in a hail storm of biblical proportions when I was wearing mine, as well as needing to wade through a few unexpectedly deep puddles. I don’t think I could live without them now. So if you’re looking for walking boots, weekend boots, or just a lovely pair of comfortable Chelsea boots, Blunnies come highly recommended from me. If a little belatedly…
It’s that time of year again! I’ve teamed up with the lovely folk at Seven Boot Lane to bring you this season’s En Brogue discount of 15%. If you’re not familiar with the brand, it’s LOVELY – I live in my Eva sheepskin lined boots (perfect for dog walking – my personalised colour will be available for everyone to buy next season!) and my new season sandals have just arrived in time for what appears to be the first heatwave of the year.
Anyway, until May 3rd, you can get 15% off any purchase you make on the website. Here are some of my favourite styles (but do look online too – there are plenty more!).
Let’s start with the sandals I’ve got for myself, Fennel. I went for plain black, and they’re also available in pale pink (both are £10 cheaper), but this Jaguar print just looks so great I had to show you these ones! They have a moulded footbed, so feel really comfy, and will go with pretty much everything in your wardrobe. Win.
I do love a gold lace-up, and these are the perfect kind of gold for a shoe – not too brash and slightly vintage looking. They’re also available in black suede. Wear with turned up jeans or in the case of the gold ones, your favourite summer tea dress.
Everyone needs an elegant pair of black sandals in their repertoire, and these ones are just the ticket. I love that they have a thong AND the security of straps over the top of the foot too. This style comes in brown and pale pink (top) too – both these options have Aztec-style woven detailing.
Finally, the skate shoes I illustrated top – Flame – because who doesn’t love a leopard print skate shoe? This style is also available in black, silver and sand (all £10 cheaper). I would suggest wearing exactly has Seven Boot Lane has styled them: with culottes!
To use your discount code, simply enter ENBROGUESS16 when you check out. It’s valid from today until May 3rd. I’d love to see what you buy so tweet me @EnBrogue or tag me on Instagram @EnBrogue. Happy shopping!
2016 is a good year for trainers birthdays! Back in February, I wrote about K Swiss turning fifty, and sharing its 50th year celebrations is Vans, who had a big old party on Thursday and have made a great little film to tell you all about the brand’s history much better than I can. You can watch that here.
So I thought I would celebrate by showing you some of my favourite pairs of Vans, as well as a previously unseen watercolour I did for my book, En Brogue: The Trainers Guide (above). Turns out I painted far too many shoes in yellow (see my Converse One Stars) and we went with a photo in the end for the Vans Classic Slip-Ons anyway, but it’s a shame that no-one has seen it before! So here you go.
One of the things I love about Vans is the HUGE variety of colours you can get. They don’t mess about with loads of different styles – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I say – so you can keep going back to your Slip-On or your SK8-Hi sneakers year after year. Same great fit, slightly different look. I love the classic checkerboard print on my Slip-Ons and have a couple of different pairs, including some new ones (above) that have a clashing print that’s meant to look like a late night snack. Oh yeah, another thing I love about Vans: the sense of humour!
The other thing that Vans must be commended for is the price: these shoes won’t break the bank but are sturdy and last ages. I interviewed my friend, and ex-pro skateboarder John Cattle, for The Times a while ago when skate shoes first got really fashionable, and he told me that they really are the ones that last the longest. Given the battering that skateboarders give their shoes, that’s praise indeed. I know you all love your Vans too – I’d love to hear about your favourite pairs! Leave comments below or tweet me with a picture to @EnBrogue.
Have you ever done that thing where you’ve imagined the perfect item of clothing and decided that you’re going to buy it before you know whether or not it actually exists? I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, and often it ends in disappointment. The first time it happened was one of the rare occasions when it worked out in my favour, though. Regular readers of this blog and my books will know about my legendary first ever pair of Converse All Stars – the shoes that got me into shoes – a purple pair that I’d set my heart on before I’d ever seen a pair in real life. Thankfully for my parents, who had decided to buy them for my thirteenth birthday, they did exist and I’ve never looked back.
Last week, fantasy Converse came into play again when I saw that they were bringing back the Converse One Star sneakers. You might remember these from the ’90s when they were huge, their popularity due largely to a certain Mr Cobain being a fan. I never had a pair, and when I was researching my book En Brogue: The Trainers Guide last year, I really wished that I had got some back in 1994. Because how I would LOVE a yellow pair now, and knowing me, I would have kept them for over twenty years. I had to make do with painting them though, because believe me, I did a thorough search, and they really weren’t available to buy anywhere.
So imagine my excitement when I saw that a certain well-known trainers store was going to be stocking them! IN YELLOW! I enquired on their Instagram account whether they would be available in a size 4, and they didn’t reply…sure enough when I checked on the on sale date, they started at a size 7. NOTHING MAKES ME MORE CROSS! (Except when people refer to all lace-up shoes as brogues regardless of whether they featured brogue detailing or not. Again, regular readers will be familiar with this)
I was so disappointed. But a few days later I noticed them pop up on the Instagram feed of another store – Offspring – and this time when I asked about sizing they actually emailed me directly to send me the link to the yellow size 4s. Now THAT is customer service for you! I promptly ordered a pair and they arrived this week. LITERALLY THRILLED.
Even better, it turns out that these Converse One Stars are new and improved. The suede is called ‘hairy suede’, which basically means that it’s longer and more textured and looks really cool. Plus hidden inside the shoe is a Nike Lunerlon sole – anyone who has a pair of Converse All Star Chuck IIs will know all about this. Essentially, it just means that they are far more comfortable than your average pair of Converse. As with the Chuck IIs, the sole takes up a bit of space, so it’s worth trying them on to see if you want to go up a size. I wear my regular size but they are pretty snug.
The Hairy One Stars come in black, blue, red and yellow as well as camouflage, but that doesn’t come in the smaller sizes. I’d love to hear your memories of wearing Converse One Stars in the ’90s – leave your comments below! Now we just need to work on Converse to bring back the One Star pool slides…