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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HOW TO WEAR CLOGS

  • Nice neutral
    Nice neutral
    The beauty of this wooden-soled River Island sandal is in the graphic simplicity of the upper, and the contrast of leather and wood.
  • Beautiful blue
    Beautiful blue
    Free People bring their quirky bohemian aesthetic to this open boot. The unusual "marino" blue upper is a fresh twist on traditional clogs.
  • Beige bliss
    Beige bliss
    For a soft Ugg experience without looking as though you've stepped out in your slippers, opt for this beige suede mule.
  • Racy red
    Racy red
    Swedish Hasbeens are one of the most well-known clog brands. They are great at producing simple but beautiful styles like this retro scarlet beauty.
  • White wood
    White wood
    Jigsaw's simple slide has the extra support of an ankle strap. The platform wedge against a sleek white upper reminds me of a beautiful sailing boat.
  • Bold black
    Bold black
    A cleverly woven toe is complemented by a chunky strap which has a back strap that swings around. Moheda's sole is only wood veneer but is flexible.
  • Organic ochre
    Organic ochre
    Cool Scandi brand Monki has teamed with Moheda to bring us this mule in a deliciously warm hue. The plaited strap adds just enough detail.
  • Back-in-time brown
    Back-in-time brown
    This Y-strap Dorothy Perkins sandal is a classic 1970s style. Perfect with all of those flowing maxi-dresses or a pair of flares this summer.

Wooden soles and backless footwear are key fashion trends this summer, so the beloved clog is having a moment.

Here are my top 4 tips on how to choose clogs wisely:

1. Wooden-soled footwear is not usually flexible, so look for styles with an exaggerated upward curve towards the front of the sole. This helps the rocking movement you’ll need to walk.

2. If you try on a pair of mules or slides (slip-ons) and it takes some effort to keep them on your feet, then they will be a nightmare to wear. Save your ankles from twists and your poor toes from having to grip constantly: pick a style which clings naturally to your feet.

3. For those who stick to smooth pavements, the clog could be very comfortable. If you frequently walk off-road or on cobbles, then the inflexible nature of this sole will make walking very tricky indeed. Match your footwear to your lifestyle and preferred terrain.

4. Even if the style fits perfectly, if the leather gives a little bit due to the weight of the wooden sole, then your new pair might have a short life. In case your clogs end up a bit bigger than they started out, a back strap could be useful. Note that sometimes a back strap is swung over to sit around the front of the shoe, so don’t miss it.

Have a look through the slide-show, for my pick of the most practical, beautiful wooden-soled styles available this summer.

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TICKLE YOUR FOOTBUDS

  • Cool contrast
    Cool contrast
    Shades of tan and blue leather create a surprisingly pleasing colour combination. These Aldo slip-ons look great with all shades of denim.
  • Swinging suede
    Swinging suede
    With a long sweeping fringe, these Kendall & Kylie "nude" suede sandals are an elegant version of this trend. Pretty enough to wear to a wedding (or five).
  • Jumbo jelly
    Jumbo jelly
    Made from PVC and rubber, Kenzo have caricatured the classic fringe. The exaggerated upper gives a bold but simple aesthetic perfect for fashionistas.
  • Opulent opalescence
    Opulent opalescence
    The Lost Ink chunky flatform sole contrasts against the ethereal iridescence of the snake print upper. A ramped-up metallic, which still works as a neutral.
  • Rich raffia
    Rich raffia
    This fabulous Manolo Blahnik statement sandal is covered with multi-coloured raffia tassels. A real investment pair, to make your feet sing.
  • Prominent pink
    Prominent pink
    Pick this double-fringed style from Office to stand out at festivals, barbeques, and picnics. Pink is grass green's polar opposite for total contrast.

 

With festival season upon us, and summer teasing us with the odd guest appearance, it’s time to think sandals. Warmer weather brings out the fun side of many of us, as there’s nothing like the sun to elevate your mood.

What’s more playful than adding movement to your sandals as you walk…or dance?Unless mosquitoes would steer clear of a swishing fringe, this adornment is completely frivolous. It’s time to embrace the whimsical.

Click through the slide show to see my pick of the best (and most fun) tasselled flat sandals out there.

 

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WOULD YOU SUE FOR SHOES?

I frequently hear of shoe brands suing each other over intellectual property infringement issues. Steven Madden has been confronted by umpteen brands. Representatives of Christian Louboutin regularly appear in court to uphold a patent for the Chinese red sole colour. But have you ever thought you would take the company who made your footwear to court (excuse the shoe-themed pun)? What if you wore a pair of pointed toed, high heeled court shoes to work every day for a year and your feet sustained long-term damage?

For years, the USA has been known as a country in which litigation is rife. This culture seems to be gradually working its way into the British way of life, and I’m uncomfortable with this. I think people should take responsibility for their own decision-making, but I do wonder what would happen if shoe companies were held more accountable for their products.

Actually there has been one case I know of, where a class action lawsuit was brought against the brand Skechers in the USA. This was based on advertised health claims of the toning abilities of certain styles of footwear. The ability of the shoes to firm wearers’ buttocks was claimed to be unfounded, and there were even accusations that the footwear caused back pain. According to Business Insider, Skechers had to pay $40 million to customers who bought the shoes. Perhaps if a shoe brand doesn’t make any claims about the wearability, comfort or durability of its shoes, it won’t make itself vulnerable to lawsuits.

It appears that Christian Louboutin is taking the opposite position of Skechers. He is quite open about the discomfort his footwear can cause. The designer has been quoted as saying “High heels are pleasure with pain“. He was even reported in the New Yorker in 2011 expressing “‘Comfy’—that’s one of the worst words!“. Is this a clever way of insuring the Louboutin brand against legal action?

What if a sales assistant recommended a shoe style, which turned out to be unsuited to your feet. Only yesterday I was chatting with a lady who has bunions and a hammer toe, and had been ill-advised by sales staff in the store of a well-known comfort brand. The shoes they recommended to her were so uncomfortable that she was only able to wear them once. In that circumstance, would you return the worn footwear?

As explained in Spectator Health just a few days ago, “calf muscles may shorten, and tendons thicken with long-term wearing of high heels“. This article by health expert Dr Roger Henderson also details “strain on the knees, lower back and hips” as a consequence of wearing high heeled footwear. A study of patients in USA emergency departments published in The Journal of foot and ankle surgery, found that “high-heel-related injuries have nearly doubled during the 11-year period from 2002 to 2012“. These articles don’t even mention how an inherited tendency for bunions can be aggravated, or corns develop as a consequence of wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Have excruciating and dangerous high-heeled shoes become the norm? The Journal of foot and ankle surgery study explains how more injuries were caused to women between the ages of 20-29 than to older women. Should we be teaching our daughters to look after their feet as well as they care for their teeth?

The thing is, shoes can be comfortable and beautiful. These two elements are not mutually exclusive. You just need to know what to look for. It’s time to take responsibility for your own comfort and foot health. You’ll discover lots of essential tips and tricks for finding the holy grail of footwear in my book The Shoe Shopping Kit.

How long will it be before all footwear comes with a disclaimer? To avoid this extreme anti-litigation measure, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask shoe brands to make foot-shaped footwear. I provide consultancy services to help them work out the best way to make this happen.

We all have the power to stop companies from making uncomfortable footwear. Stop buying it, and they’ll stop making it.

I’ll leave you with one final thought: If a washing machine looked great but gradually ruined your clothes, would you still buy it?

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SILVER IN THE SUN

Metallic shoes are often thought of as Christmas party wear or evening footwear.

Case in point: when I showed my husband this latest purchase, he was confused by the intended wearing occasion (um, flouncing around in daisies obviously).

I explained that metallics, and silver in particular, are on-trend on sporty flats this season. I think I also muttered something about day to evening, then realised our evenings tend to be rather Netflix based these days, thanks to our 4½ month old.

Having mostly worn (v. glam) trainers during pregnancy and the early months with a newborn, it was time to try something a little sleeker. Moccasins like these wrap cosily around your feet, giving them a gentle hug. Frankly, I can cope with nothing less than extreme comfort these days. Don’t we all have better things to do than worry about our sore feet?

These Clarks slip-ons are seriously comfortable, with their soft leather and bouncy white soles.

With their reputation for comfort and durability, it’s great to see a bit of modern glamour injected into this British stalwart’s range. Clarks have also introduced a brogue and a chukka boot on this athletic-inspired sole.

To find out more about experimenting with different shoe colours, download my book The Shoe Shopping Kit.

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