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…
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…
Yes that’s right – you could win a supply of shoes for the whole year with Oasis at the moment. Oasis might not be the first place on the high street you think of going for shoes, but they have a really good selection. And the Chelsea boots that I’m wearing below – which come in lots of different colours – are INCREDIBLY comfortable. They have a cushioned sole, so it’s like wearing slippers. What’s not to like about that?
To give you a taster of the sorts of flat shoes you could be kitted out with for your year if you win, here’s a small selection of what’s online at the moment. Of course, they will be getting more styles throughout the year though!
To enter, simply upload a shoefie to Instagram (that’s a shoe selfie, like mine at the top, but you knew that already, right?!) tagging @oasisfashion and including the hashtag #meltintospring. You’ve got until January 31st to enter and you must be wearing a pair of Oasis shoes in the picture. Good luck!
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.
A brand I only really discovered earlier this year is Vagabond. It is HUGE in Sweden and is gaining momentum in the UK too, which is no surprise given the cool designs and great prices. The new season styles are all now available online, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to review a few of my favourites.
Stomping boots – that’s just big, clompy flats – are having a moment this season and you’re spoilt for choice with them at Vagabond. Take styling inspiration from Alexander McQueen and wear with an insanely pretty, white lace dress.
Whether a single monk (one buckle) or double monk (two buckles), this is style is still reigning strong on the high street and with designer brands for AW14. I’m particularly fond of the Amina monk with a leather kiltie, though I would buckle mine underneath the fringe for a look straight off the catwalk.
Vagabond is fond of a chunky sole but it has a good offering of chic classics too. Not only that, most of the styles here come in at least three different colours, so the choice is brilliant as well. Happy shopping!
So you think Fred Perry shoes are all about sneakers? Think again. On a recent trip to its Seven Dials store (which is awesome, by the way; a converted pub with excellent tiles and very well dressed shop assistants) I discovered that it’s really upped its game as far as shoe design is concerned. Sadly, some of my favourite styles only start at a size 6, but as many of you won’t have silly tiny size 4 feet like me, I thought you’d probably like to hear about them.
This first pair is a collaboration with Drake’s of London as part of the Laurel Wreath Collection. When I stumbled across them a few weeks ago on the website I was gutted that they were in the men’s section. “Men aren’t that flamboyant” I thought, “men wouldn’t be brave enough to wear those. What a waste!” but I showed them to Mr Brogue and was pleased to learn that he loved them too. Sometimes it’s good to be proved wrong! Besides, they start at size 6, so will fit most women anyway.
Next up, these fabulous creepers, a Laurel Wreath Collection collaboration with George Cox, and they go as small as a size 3.5. I’ve resisted the creeper trend for years now (I know; why?!) but I’ve finally given in to the temptation. I love the pointy toe and golden colour. They look great with skinny leather trousers and a long-line cardigan.
Fred Perry also has a brilliant selection of Chelsea-style boots, again in women’s sizes. These pull-ons are lovely and lightweight, so have the comfort of a sneaker and the style of a leather shoe combined. The brogues come in tan or brown, or if you prefer something more akin to a safari boot, there’s navy or claret suede versions too.
Read my guest Christmas edit on the Fred Perry blog here.
Now and then, it’s nice to have a little lust after something you can’t have. No, I’m not talking about Daniel Craig in Skyfall (Mr Brogue will be relieved to hear that) but beautifully crafted high end shoes that I can’t afford. The label I keep coming back to recently for a lunch time swoon is Italian brand Pollini.
It’s no wonder that Pollini’s shoes, like these fabulous two-toned boots, are so covetable. The brand’s creative director is Nicholas Kirkwood, who trained at London’s world renowned Cordwainers College (which has been teaching the art of crafting shoes and leather goods since 1887) and has won many accolades including Accessory Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards for his self-titled own brand.
I love how Kirkwood has reworked the classic Chelsea boot style, particularly on this second pair with their navy toe and bright yellow sole (regular En Brogue readers will know I am a sucker for a pop of colour). It’s probably a good job, then, that this style has now sold out, so I won’t have a new purchase to feel guilty about. They’ll just have to remain the boots of my dreams.
Neon can be a tricky trend to wear. It says “look at me!” and “I’m a bit whacky!”, and reminds those of us old enough to remember of Timmy Mallett and questionable cycling shorts/crop top combos from Tammy Girl. I find neon far less scary in moderation; a fluoro necklace here, a pop of colour on a bag there. Or how about a flash of elastic on your boots?
I love the neon detailing on these Penelope Chilvers safari boots. It’s the perfect statement if you’re dying to experiment with colour, but aren’t quite brave enough to wear that Acne lime mohair sweater. I can tell you from experience that PC’s safari boots are comfortable and durable, so are a really good investment buy. These also come in black, tan and chocolate.
Urban Outfitters have jumped aboard with bright elastics too. These suede Chelsea boots are currently in the sale and come in a tan/yellow colour option too. A great buy if you suspect this is a trend you will tire of come next season.
This final option – asos.com’s brogue Chelsea boots – is my favourite, though. There’s something about that mix of traditional polished leather alongside such a vibrant colour that’s really unusual, yet very familiar. And 60 quid for a leather boot is an absolute steal!