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 you’re going to a wedding this summer but you can’t face wearing heels? Don’t worry! En Brogue is here to help. I’ve written about this a few times before, but I had a request this week for an update, because let’s face it, there’s going to be loads more flat shoes on offer now than there was last summer. If you’re still worried about ditching your heels for a posh do, I hope I can persuade you to switch to flats because you’ll have a MUCH better time. Tricky staircase to manoeuvre? No problem. Cobbled street to get to the venue? Bring it on. Amazing band playing you want to dance all night to? Just try and stop me!
This was me at my brother’s wedding last summer. I went about as unconventional as it gets – well, I didn’t wear jeans and a T-shirt, but you get the drift. No dress AND no heels. And I can tell you this: I had the BEST time on the dance floor. I even stole an older gentleman’s orange braces to complete my outfit and use as a dance prop…
Anyway, I digress – what about you? There are a few tricks that might help in your transition. If you still want to look feminine and have a similar effect to a pair of heeled courts, try a pointed toe flat. I’ve said it many times, but there’s something about that pointed toe that mimics the feeling you get from a pair of heels, and it also helps to lengthen your legs. Plus, if you find a shoe with a low cut vamp (that just means it shows more of your foot, and preferably some toe cleavage) you’ll give your legs even more of a helping hand. These are the perfect shoes to wear with a shift or fitted dress. There are lots of metallic styles around at the moment.
How about a bit of embellishment? I know some women feel they need to compensate for the lack of heels by wearing really snazzy flats (like those poor women who got turned away from the red carpet in their rhinestone flats at Cannes earlier this week) and although I don’t agree that you have to do this, there are some lovely shoes in the style that work really well for a wedding. If sparkles aren’t your thing, look for snake-effect leather or this season’s hot feature – ghillie laces. Just avoid it on round-toed ballet pumps or risk looking like you’re on your way to an 8th birthday party.
I also think white shoes are an absolute winner, particularly if you’re going for something more masculine. I felt great in my monks from Northern Cobbler (sadly they’re not available anymore). This is a good option for anyone wearing trousers, though I would advise picking something cropped or rolling up the hems so you show your ankles. It’s MUCH more flattering.
I hope that helps any of you looking for wedding guest shoes (or brides-to-be come to that – because why shouldn’t the bride wear flats too?). The best thing of all is that you can invest in a pair of shoes you’re likely to wear again; all of these would looking brilliant just with a simple white shirt and jeans. I’d love to see what flat shoes you’re wearing to weddings this summer, so tweet me a picture to @EnBrogue or tag me on Instagram.
Not all fashion inspiration comes from the catwalk. After I stumbled across this wonderful picture of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth, I was admiring both pairs of shoes, and it got me thinking about just how great two-tone monochrome shoes are. I have a couple of pairs myself, and there are so many great things about them. They go with everything. They’re eternally chic. They never go out of style. And they might make you want to break out into a tap dance.
So…here are a few of my favourite monochrome shoes available right now. I’ve included loads of different styles – from sandals to winkle pickers – but they all tick that black and white box. Happy shopping!
OK I admit, the shoes in pictures above and below are verging on a flatform. But it’s from the catwalk of one of my favourite brands – Marni – so you’ll forgive me having a little perve over these sandals as they look pretty comfortable, as well as being totally amazing. Not only that, they demonstrate perfectly a lovely little trend that’s emerging on the high street: track sole sandals.
“Has she gone mad?” you cry! “It’s February and she’s telling me about SANDALS?!”
Well no, actually. I’m a firm believer in buying the best of the new season before it sells out so you’re fully prepared for any unseasonal barmy weather that might unexpectedly come along. I remember one Valentine’s Day in the Nineties when it was 21 degrees! Of course, I was ready with my sandals – Converse One Star suede slides – remember those? Anyway, hear me out.
What I like about this style of sandal is that they look cool and are REALLY practical. The track sole is meant to look like the treads in a tire, and what does that mean? Grip! As much as I love a beautiful pair of Italian sandals, leather soles can be a bit lethal for the first few wears. And those ankle straps mean they’ll be great for wearing on long walks. I do love a good long walk. I expect more styles to be available later in the season, but for now, here are my favourites.
As with about 50% of the trends on the high street, you can blame Celine’s Phoebe Philo for the current trend for tartan skate shoes. I have to say, I wasn’t sure about it at first (the check looked a little bit too much like cheap laundry bags for my liking) but I’ve really come round to these heritage print sneakers, especially now that you can pick them up for a MUCH lower price than Celine was charging in the summer. And they feel particularly seasonal too, so great to wear at Christmas. Plus – and see my last post for details – there’s nothing quite as convenient as a slip-on (and therefore slip-off) pair of shoes at this time of year. Here are a few of my favourite styles…
It’s a week until Christmas Eve! Which has me thinking about my Christmas Day outfit already (I know, I know – but I like to forward plan!). And other than the actual slippers that you’ll no doubt be given and have to wear at some point (hopefully from Mahabis or UGG – my favourite slippers) I reckon you can’t go wrong with a pair of smoking slippers on Christmas Day. Why? For starters, they often come in snazzy festive materials like velvet, pony skin or metallics. They’re slip-on, slip-off, so perfect to kick off in the evening when you all settle down to watch the Eastenders Christmas special/play the Pointless board game/sleep off the turkey. And best of all, they go with absolutely everything from an LBD to boyfriend jeans. Here’s my pick of the best if you fancy treating yourself this week, though do check delivery options if you really need these by Christmas Day – otherwise, I suggest some good old fashioned in person shopping in an actual shop…
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.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there’s nothing more disappointing than trying on a pair of snuggly sheepskin or fleece lined boots, only to discover that the snuggly bit stops before it reaches your feet. I don’t get it! That’s where you need it the most! I really hate having cold feet, so I’m always on the hunt for winter boots that keep my toes warm. And you’ll be pleased to hear that not only did I spend today hunting, but also putting my hands inside these boots in store so I could tell you with absolute confidence that THESE boots are furry ALL THE WAY TO THE TOE.
Let’s start with these smart biker boots from Zara. They’re real leather so good quality but still come in way under £100 which isn’t bad value at all. The furry lining is really soft and looks great rolled over under the buckles. Plus that rubber sole will grip on slippery surfaces. Practical AND stylish!
Next up, ALDO. Rather short sightedly, they’ve not shot them for the website with the lovely sheepskin lining rolled over so I’ve included a picture I took in store as I think they look much nicer styled this way. I REALLY like these boots. They’ve got a bit of a workman’s boot feel to them but are very chic, too. Again, the lining extends all the way to the toe.
How nice are these sneaker-style boots from Dune? I have some old Puma high tops with a furry lining that I live in when it’s cold; you’d be surprised how useful a super-warm pair of trainers can be. My Pumas are lace ups, but the zips on these boots mean you can make a feature of that lovely lining. Good old Dr Martens has got on board as well – they only have this tan colour on the Office website but I spied black ones in store which I preferred as they’re such a classic. And Red or Dead’s desert boot style are great if, like me, you’re always drawn to mod-style shoes. Bring on the cold weather Britain – I’m ready for you!
NB: while all of these particular boots will keep your toes warm, some of these brands have other styles available that look like they will be lined all the way to the toe but the lining stops at the ankle! If in doubt, go in store and try for yourself.
Following on from my recent observation of walking sandals on the SS15 catwalks (read about that here), I thought I should point out a related trend that’s a little more season appropriate: walking boots.
Now, I have genuinely been coveting Mr Brogue’s actual hiking boots for some years (we do a lot of walking on the Isle of Wight and he has a rather snazzy expensive pair) so was thrilled to spot these at Penelope Chilvers’ autumn preview back in the spring (although if I bought these beauties I wouldn’t be trekking through muddy fields in them!). I love the sturdy rubber sole, those contrast laces and the hooks in place of holes at the top. They’re called Atlas and you can buy them for £299 here.
Penelope must be as fond of walking as I am, as she’s also got the Rodriguez boot for this season (above), available in three different colours. I’d style them exactly like this with turned up jeans, but perhaps with the addition of a brightly colour sock. There are loads more hiking styles on the high street too…here are a few of my favourites.
Sometimes, the high street really gets on board with a mad catwalk trend. With sporty embellished sandals it’s taken them a while – Christopher Kane debuted them in his spring/summer 2012 catwalk collection – but man, have they got it right this summer! When you’re investing in something silly like a sporty embellished sandal, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on it, so I’m thrilled that there are so many reasonably priced options around this season.
You see, I recently went to Bicester Village and tried on a pair in the Marni store. Even at the discounted price, they were still more than £300, so although I really REALLY loved them, I left them behind and returned to London with a heavy heart.
But look what I could have instead, and for a fraction of the price! I’ve already featured the Zara pair once but they are so good I had to include them again. And I’m very tempted to invest in a glue gun and some massive glass stones and just customise my own pair of Birkenstocks…