DANCE WITH ME

I borrowed a biography of Audrey Hepburn from the library when I was a teenager. So began my admiration for this talented actress and humanitarian.

With her slim boyish figure and effortless chic, Audrey became my style idol. In the late 90s, ballet flats were worn by a few sophisticated ladies in the UK, but were not widely available.

My first pair were French Sole, and I still have them to wear as slippers.

Since those days, I have loved and worn out many pairs of ballet pumps in different colours and textures. My go-to brands now are Miu Miu (when I’m feeling flush) and Bloch.

Bloch have a selection of classic styles, which they update from season to season in different materials and colours. When it comes to the ballet pump, simple lines are best. Channel Audrey with one of these attractive options on Summer evenings and Autumn days.

Navy is a useful neutral, and can be more flattering than harsh black. This soft leather has a subtle pearlised effect making it great for day to evening wear.

 

Patent adds a smarter finish to any shoe. The muted orange gives a splash of colour to an outfit without being garish.

 

These “dark orchid” pumps can fit in your handbag. You just fold them up. This makes them great for travel, commuting or a night out when your feet won’t last ’til midnight in heels.

 

I couldn’t resist this glitter-covered option. Invest now for late summer glam, and be the comfortable one at December’s parties.

 

This small-scaled snake-effect leather comes in black, or subdued red. Great with the leaf tones of Autumn fashion.

 

Check out the Bloch website for more colourways, and some fabulous sale bargains.

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PONY NOT REQUIRED

  • Subtle saddle
    Subtle saddle
    An easy "stone" coloured Chelsea boot in suede with a Western-inspired leather patch. The 2" heel gives height without discomfort.
  • Green gelding
    Green gelding
    Dainty stud work and subtle embroidery add cowboy hints to this mid-height style. The inside zip allows quick entry and exit.
  • Wider Western
    Wider Western
    With just a nod to the equestrian, this style is available in extra wide EEE fitting. The rich blue adds colour to an outfit, without being garish.
  • Raised reptile
    Raised reptile
    Neutral shades of black and sand combine on this snake-print style from Calvin Klein Jeans. The kind of style which looks better when worn in.
  • Stallion silver
    Stallion silver
    With leather linings and uppers, these silver boots are a bargain at under £100. Metallics make a subtle statement worn with any outfit.
  • Black beauty
    Black beauty
    These elegant calfskin Chelsea boots are a classic with a couple of twists. The textured toecap and heel hardware add a luxurious edge.
  • Tan tassel
    Tan tassel
    Snap up these affordable boots if you want a one season wonder. They might not last you until next winter, but the cowboy trend might be over by then...
  • Galloping glitter
    Galloping glitter
    Add a bit of bling to your boots with these glamorous Cuban-heeled Chelseas. Useful if you want to do smart casual evening without the pain.

 

My older sister’s Sindy doll had cowboy boots. I thought those plastic accessories were unbelievably cool, and I don’t think that feeling has ever left me.

The longing for a pair of my own grew and grew, until I bought a black pair from a line dancing shop in Torquay at the age of 18. I wore those boots for years, through several cycles of fashion. I didn’t care whether they were trendy. They got incredibly comfortable and I just loved the contrast of edgy pointed toe, black leather, embroidery and silver hardware.

Those boots wore out and are long gone, but my heart is aflutter as I see the Western trend emerging once again. Miu miu’s resort 2016 collection featured cute cowboy boots (sadly sold out), and shoe designers for the high street have been inspired by this look.

Miu Miu resort 2016

Click through the slide show for my selection of the most wearable, affordable new cowboy-inspired boots.

Will you channel your inner cowgirl this season? Let me know in the comments, or on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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FEET TREATS

Our feet work particularly hard in the summer. We’re out and about more, walking further and generally being more active than in the cold, dark months.

In the winter, feet are all tucked up like hibernating creatures. Surrounded by thick socks and cosy worn-in boots. In the UK, it can take more than one summer to wear in a pair of sandals if the weather is cool. Boots get worn day in, day out from Autumn to Spring.

Long walks combined with rubbing straps from newish sandals and exposure to the sun, combine to make our feet dry and in need of a treat.

At the end of a long day, follow my tips for a quick pampering session:

  1. Remove your toe nail polish
  2. Wash your feet with your favourite shower gel or soap
  3. Apply a luxurious foot treatment, rubbing it well into dryer areas such as your heels.

Here are a few of my favourites:

For cooling hot and swollen feet

For exfoliation without the hassle

For luxurious deodorising

For overall beautifying

For sorting out cracked heels

If only feet could actually say “thank you”.

What are your favourite foot pampering tips? Let me know in the comments, or on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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SNEAK PREVIEW – YULL AW16

I fell in love with everything about Yull shoes a little over a year ago.

Here are my favourite things about this brand:

  • The founder: Sarah – an entrepreneur with a quirky sense of humour, fantastic design eye and great business savvy.

 

  • The shooooes! My friend from shoeniversity messaged me today saying “I have discovered Yull shoes. I’m a fan. I love shoes that look like sweeties.” I concur.

 

  • They’re made in Britain. This country is still known for making fine men’s shoes, and we also used to be famous for women’s styles. It doesn’t seem fair for the women’s side to disappear, and for the dudes to get all the great shoes. As the brand grows, so will UK manufacturing of beautiful women’s footwear. An indisputable excuse for buying shoes.

Union flag

 

I met Sarah and Trang (job title: Catalyst!) at the Pure London trade show a couple of weeks ago. They were showing the Spring/Summer 2017 collection (it’s very cool), and the fabulous Autumn/Winter 2016 styles. I couldn’t wait to share some of my favourites from AW16 with you, before the launch in early September.

There’s nothing as easy and comfortable as a Chelsea boot on a cold day. The rubber sole helps with grip, so pull the Fulham on when you need to leg it out of the door.

 

Have you been inspired by Theresa May’s penchant for unusual kitten heels? Try the bold blue croc-print Green Park, for a smart look without too much height.

 

Ever had trouble getting boots to fit your calves? Well, the new Cumbria knee-high boot is a great-looking answer to that problem. The entire back panel of the leg is elasticated. The dinky snaffle hardware detail adds a subtle equestrian nod.

 

When you just want a simple, elegant black court shoe, Cambridge is for you. Nothing takes you from work to evening like patent leather. A small metal version of the Yull logo in its pretty scroll font, adorns the front.

 

A 3″ heel gives you added height, whilst still allowing you to balance. Avoid the burn on the balls of your feet with the classic Borough capped court shoe. Stand out in the new red and black colourway.

 

Suede and tweed combine to provide a rich contrast. Give a nod to the gentlewoman farmer in these easy flat navy blue brogues.

 

What better way is there to support the British economy (ahem, we may need a little help…), than to buy British?

 

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FLIP OR FLOP

This hot weather means we can finally get our toes out. It’s tempting to live in your flip-flops/toe-posts/thongs, whatever you like to call them. You might even be thinking about wearing them on your commute to work.

This style can cause issues when worn in the wrong environment, so it’s time for some more top tips.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of the humble flip-flop:

Driving

Don’t do it because:

  • Flip-flop soles rarely have good grip, so your feet can slip off the pedals
  • Your feet can slip out of these sandals, and the flip-flop could get stuck under a pedal
  • The shoe may twist away from the sole of your foot causing discomfort, distraction, and affecting your ability to use the pedals
  • Your toes will need to grip to keep them on, which can cause short- and long-term foot problems
  • It’s not currently illegal in the UK, but the RAC advise against it.

 

Beach

Do it because:

  • They protect your feet from hot sand
  • If pebbles or sand get stuck between your foot and these sandals, you can easily slip them off and remove the offending object
  • You’re unlikely to be walking far
  • They keep your feet blissfully cool
  • You can slip them off and run into the water at will

 

Hiking

Don’t do it because:

  • They don’t provide enough support to prevent you from twisting your ankle on uneven ground
  • The sole is unlikely to provide enough grip
  • There is very little foot coverage for protecting your feet from unfriendly plants such as brambles and stinging nettles

 

Town walking/commuting

Don’t do it because:

  • Your heel can come off the back of the shoe, on to unsanitary or dangerous surfaces
  • People may tread on the back of your heel, as it’s unprotected
  • Your toes are vulnerable to being stubbed
  • Someone could tread on the back of your flip-flop, causing you to trip, and the strap to hurt the tender area between your toes

Where do you like to wear your flip-flops? Tweet me a photo, or let me know in the comments.

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HEAL YOUR FEET (IN THE HEAT)

Suddenly the switch of summer has been turned on, and it’s well and truly scorching.

Your feet may face any number of hazards, as they innocently wander around, carrying you hither and thither.

Here’s how to help your feet cope with the perils of summer:

Walking barefoot on hot or rough surfaces

I wouldn’t normally ruin your fun, but don’t get carried away and act all carefree hippy chick this summer. If your feet aren’t used to walking barefoot, you could cause some damage. Cuts, scrapes and burns on the soles of your feet, will make walking excruciating for some time to come.

Save yourself the pain by slipping on a pair of seagrass flip-flops. This natural material doesn’t heat up in the sun like rubber and synthetic rubber do.

Sunburn

Letting your feet get singed by the sun is, as we all know, dangerous. Preventing skin cancer is worth a few seconds of faff putting cream on. Short-term discomfort caused by burnt feet can also prevent you from wearing your favourite shoes. Why restrict your wardrobe choices?

Unless your feet were bare when they got burnt (in which case all shoes will rub), you are likely to be left with unattractive tan lines.

Wearing sandals on escalators

Be very careful getting on and off. Watch out for the serrated edge at the top.

After a number of incidents, Crocs started putting hang tags on their products. These advised customers to stand in the centre of the escalator step. I’d recommend watching your step, rather than standing in the middle. This is especially true when travelling on the London Underground, as commuters get very agitated when people don’t stand on the right. In the hot, sweaty summer, tempers can be quick to flare.

Wearing sandals in crowds

Have you ever experienced the pain when someone treads on the back of your flip-flop while you’re walking?  That horrible sensation you feel between your toes is worth trying to avoid.

Sandals which are secured to your feet rather than being slip-on, and those without a toe-post, are best for wearing in crowded places this summer.

Swelling feet

Shoes which are usually comfortable, may chafe when your feet are swollen. The change in fit can cause friction and blisters.

Soak your feet in cool water. If you don’t own a foot spa (or can’t be bothered to get it down from the loft), grab a glass of something iced to drink, and pop your feet in a washing-up bowl of cold water.

If you’re lucky enough to be by the sea or a pool this summer, your feet will love a dip. Alternatively, get the kids to share their paddling pool.

Elevating them will also help your swollen feet. Grab a foot stool, sun lounger, the dog, or your child, and raise them up.

Perspiration causes friction

When your feet are moist, shoes or sandals are more likely to rub against your feet. You might think that wet = slippery, but this isn’t the case. Read about the physics in more depth to find out why.

Wearing footsies or socks rather than bare feet can work well to prevent abrasion. Anti-friction balm is useful for wearing sandals, or other styles which look best with bare feet.

Being on show

During Spring, Autumn and Winter, our toes are usually hidden away. Come the summer, they finally get their chance to shine.

If you have time, take your feet for a full pedicure including dry skin removal. If you’re in a hurry, bright coloured polish on your toe nails can distract onlookers from any unsightly foot issues.

 

Your essential foot kit:

Blister balm = reduced friction on sweaty feet

Fabric plasters (they stay on best) = protection for scrapes

Antiseptic cream = keep the bugs out

Sun cream = prevent burning and tan lines

Pumice stone = spruce up hard skin

Footsies = absorb moisture + reduce fiction

Washing up bowl = easy cooling

Foot spa = luxury cooling

Bright polish = happy toes

and don’t forget…

Base coat = unstained nails

 

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THERESA MAY’S SHOES

There has been a lot of discussion in the press about the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom’s footwear.

As the UK’s footwear expert, I thought I would add my thoughts to the debate.

 

Do I care about Theresa May’s shoes?

I’m interested in all shoes, and how they help their wearers to feel comfortable and self-assured.

I’ll be watching how this high profile politician selects her footwear according to the context of her various public appearances. Will she pick more sombre colours when commenting on sad events? In particularly challenging situations, which are her confidence-boosting pairs?

Do I think that the new PM’s choice of footwear has any impact on her ability to lead the nation?

Certainly not. However uncomfortable shoes can adversely affect your mood. I’m sure Mrs May’s colleagues will be grateful if she wears footwear which does not cause her pain.

What do I think of Mrs May’s footwear choices so far?

I admire her confidence in wearing colour and print in her shoes, rather than dull neutrals. There are too many pairs of black footwear in the world. In my book The Shoe Shopping Kit, I encourage women to experiment with alternative shades and textures. Life’s too short not to look at your feet and smile.

Often I have looked at the new Prime Minister’s outfits, and found the footwear to be the most fashion-forward part. Slimmer-legged trousers would further accentuate her bold shoe choices.

Do I think Theresa May will become a fashion icon?

Anyone in the public eye will be photographed and scrutinised. Women may well be influenced by the PM’s outfit choices. Buyers for footwear retailers should ensure their leopard print styles are well stocked.

Do I think being Prime Minister will affect Theresa May’s sartorial choices?

Perhaps her tailoring will get sharper, and she’ll add to her footwear collection. Mrs May will be a very busy lady, so I’d be happy to help her with a quick VIP shoe shopping trip.

Which top shoe tips would I give to the new PM?

Replace your heel tips regularly. Once the plastic has worn down, the metal piece is exposed. This creates a loud sound when you walk, and in my opinion sounds cheap. For the same reason, never replace your heel tips with metal ones.

Theresa May appears to have a penchant for styles with a pointed toe. I would recommend that she alternate them with round or square-toed options, to avoid deforming her feet over time.

 

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COOL COMFORT AND COLOUR

  • Wedge of ochre
    Wedge of ochre
    Yellows can be so cheerful that just wearing them lifts your mood. The wedge + platform elevation means your maxi skirt won't drag.
  • Tri-colour
    Tri-colour
    There's something scholastic about this T-bar. The white sole and heel outline gives a clever graphic look for what could be called education chic.
  • Orangeade
    Orangeade
    Feeling bold? Float along in these incredibly comfortable bright hued flatforms. A sporty style best accessorised with abs (or a glass of Fanta).
  • Shiny point
    Shiny point
    The metallic bronze gives a dash of glamour to this clever flat. Make your feet stand out, by wearing these with a black silk dress or trousers in the evening.
  • Blue trio
    Blue trio
    Just an easy slip-on flat in three shades of blue. Great for getting the comfort of more foot coverage, whilst rocking the sporty bright look.
  • Rose tinted
    Rose tinted
    A pretty and flattering pink without being insipid. This sandal protects your heel from the clumsy foot of the person behind you.
  • Dark print
    Dark print
    Not feeling particularly bright and perky, but want an interesting look? This dark foliage print gives sophistication to summer sandals.
  • Tutti frutti
    Tutti frutti
    Get noticed in these tri-colour sandals with a low block heel. The slim straps are elegant, and there are enough of them to comfortably support your feet.

 

It’s hard to disagree that the summer has been somewhat lacklustre so far. If life were a musical or a cheesy rom-com, then wearing brightly coloured sandals would encourage the sun to come out.

At this point I’m getting desperate, and Camper are making some stylish and completely wearable non-neutral options. I say, let’s give it a go.

Click through the slide show above to get inspired (and fingers crossed the sun will come out…soon…please!).

Build your confidence in trying different shoe colours, by downloading my book The Shoe Shopping Kit.

Let me know which bright colour you’re willing to try, on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

 

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PACK WITH JUST 3 PAIRS

Have you ever:

  • Been accused of packing too much to go on holiday?
  • Worn only 3 of the multiple pairs of shoes you packed?
  • Paid for excess baggage?
  • Wanted to travel with hand luggage only?

Wherever you’re travelling to this summer, it’s my philosophy that you only need to bring 3 pairs of shoes: Wear one, pack two.

Check out my essential formulas for each destination:

DESTINATIONS

Beach

Wear to travel: Trainers

Pack: Flip-flops and comfortable evening sandals or pumps

 

City break – Warm weather

Wear to travel: Trainers

Pack: Comfortable day sandals and comfortable evening sandals or pumps

 

City break – Cold weather 

Wear to travel: Comfortable casual ankle boots

Pack: Trainers and smarter, comfortable ankle boots

 

Back-packing

Wear to travel: Waterproof walking shoes

Pack: Flip-flops or comfortable sandals and smarter lightweight shoes or sandals

 

FOOTWEAR ESSENTIALS

Trainers

Great for: Planes and airports, as they can be quite cold, so a closed shoe will keep you comfortable. Slip-on trainers are particularly useful for whizzing through airport security, but lace-ups are fine too.

 

Waterproof walking shoes

Great for: Climbing mountains or trekking through rain forests, rainy days.

 

Flip-flops

Great for: Getting on and off easily so you save valuable pool/sun/sea time. Compact and lightweight.

 

Comfortable sandals

Great for: Doing a lot of walking in warm weather

 

Ballet pumps

Great for: Looking smart on cooler evenings or in air-conditioned restaurants. Compact and lightweight.

 

Evening sandals

Great for: Eating outside or in smart restaurants without air-conditioning

 

Comfortable casual ankle boots

Great for: Walking all day in colder climates. Wear these on the flight rather than packing them, as they weigh more; and take up more space than your trainers.

 

Comfortable smarter ankle boots

Great for: Looking elegant in the evening, without compromising on comfort or warmth.

 

PACKING TIPS

Keep your shoes from being squashed by stuffing them with your pairs of socks.

Unless you need to pack your shoes wet (avoid this if possible), keep them in pairs in fabric shoe bags. These can be found on Ebay.

Insert them in the dust bags as shown, so the soles don’t touch the uppers. They also take up the least space this way.

 

Happy holidays to you! Let me know which 3 pairs  you’re packing, on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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SEE-THRU SUMMER

  • Bright light
    Bright light
    A sandal of contrasting materials from United Nude. Lifted by a mid height light-shaft acrylic heel, with patent raspberry and matte teal leather straps.
  • Tansparent
    Tansparent
    A simple, classic tan leather court shoe by Dune. Given a subtle but modern twist with its perspex heel detail.
  • Fly flat
    Fly flat
    Not completely transparent, so more flattering to the feet. The cloudy straps of these Ancient Greek Sandals offer support, elegance and comfort.
  • Glass slip-on
    Glass slip-on
    A chic red suede pointed pump by Office. The transparent side "windows" display the most attractive parts of the foot (not the sweaty toes).
  • See-thru silver
    See-thru silver
    London Rebel offer this flat sandal, for a tasteful version of the perspex look. The see-thru piece adds extra support to the slim silver straps.
  • Ethereal elevation
    Ethereal elevation
    Grey and navy combine to be wearable and on-trend. The elastic slingback on these Office sandals gives comfort, as does the 3½" perspex block heel.
  • Crystal clear
    Crystal clear
    This glam version of a jelly sandal by Stuart Weitzman is covered in tiny glittering rhinestones. The woven looking upper is undisturbed by fastenings.

 

Not so long ago, styles with transparent parts were seen as shoes for strippers. Now, designers have become more creative and playful. Altered opacity is used on innovative sculptured heels, or mixed with leather on uppers.

We’ve gone from this…

…to this

Footwear can appear to be floating, or not attached to the foot. Elements of light and reflectiveness are introduced to sandals. Even American Vogue is talking about the “nothing shoe” trend.

The big question is, how can you style this new breed of perspex footwear? Here are my top tips:

1. Unless you work in an environment where anything goes, keep these shoes for evenings and weekends. Those not in the know may still subconsciously associate transparency with overt sexuality.

2. Style them any why you like, as long as it’s smart casual or smart. Scruffy jeans and perspex look odd together. Go pretty with a circle skirt and blouse, relaxed but glam with silk tailored trousers, or do wedding chic in a knee-length shift dress.

3. You know when you smooshed your face up against a window when you were a kid? That’s how feet look in sandals with perspex uppers. When you start to perspire, the look gets worse. Choose styles with smaller perspex panels or straps, that have plenty of breathing space around them. Alternatively, try them with socks or tights you want to show off.

Now have a look at my selection of wearable perspex styles in the slide show, and decide how you’ll style this trend.

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