SOLVE THE SHOE PUZZLE

  • The colour of the sky just before the rain pours down. These pointed loafers have a smart look with their sharp point, without the discomfort of heels.
  • This slipper-comfortable trainer style is understandably a best-seller for Jigsaw. This season's crackle finish leather modernises the look.
  • Probably the sleekest women's loafer you'll find these season. The dark red brown "morello cherry" colour perfectly complements a charcoal suit.
  • Business at the front, party at the back. No this isn't the mullet (famous 80s hairstyle) but a chic 7cm block heeled boot in smooth and hair on leather.
  • Not a style for wet weather, but perfect for crisp Autumn days. This opened up shoe is a fresh modern take on a traditional brogue style.
  • In soft, wine-coloured suede, these 4cm block heeled court shoes are a modern classic that won't date. The high front ensures a secure, comfortable fit.
  • Everyone needs an easy loafer like this soft suede slip on. The fold down back converts this shoe to a mule. Light blue lifts the mood on dull days.
  • A great pair of biker boots is a wardrobe essential for colder weather. Invest now, and you'll wear them for years to come. Soft black leather with a sturdy sole.
  • After a long day on your feet, get cosy in these warm but glam pom pom slippers.

 

If you want beautifully made footwear in easy to wear neutrals this season, Jigsaw is definitely worth a look. Many of the styles are made in Italy or Portugal, and leather linings are used on most options.

From sharply pointed flats to kick ass biker boots, your smart and laid back needs are pandered to. As I reveal in my ebook The Shoe Shopping Kit, you don’t need to pay designer prices to get great quality shoes.

Click through the slide show to make your wisest investment this Autumn.

 

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SHOE DESIGN’S SECRET HEROS PT 1

Celebrities from Katy Perry and Paris Hilton, to Sarah Jessica Parker and TOWIE’s Jessica Wright, have made the press with their shoe designs. The celebs will undoubtedly have had creative input into their eponymous ranges, but their designs will have been finessed by experienced shoe designers.

Christian Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood and Brian Atwood are the creative minds behind their brands, but they still employ other designers to bring their ideas to life.

So who are these trained shoe designers whose names you don’t know? In this series, I celebrate the people responsible for inventing most of the shoes sold around the world.

These are the people who really design your shoes.

The interns

On a placement year from university or newly graduated with a BA (Hons) in Footwear Design, these hard working shoe people deserve a mention.

Putting in long hours to impress, the interns do the design jobs that their seniors don’t want to. They churn out reams of pencil sketches of new designs, invariably for one of the less exciting collections.

sketching-border

The intern is likely to spend a lot of time filing, and sorting out shoe samples and swatches of leather and fabric. If they’re lucky they might be able to try their hand at generating numerous print designs. That’s painstaking work, and there’s a chance that all might be rejected. These things are all in a day’s (and sometimes night’s) work for the low paid shoe design intern. She or he may need to take another job at the weekends to supplement their income.

Design teams travel abroad on inspiration trips, to trade shows and conferences. There is rarely the budget to take the intern away, so they are often left holding the fort in an eerily quiet studio. Some bosses will call and email regularly wanting instant drawings or checking the intern hasn’t left before 8pm.

When the placement’s over, the company is under no obligation to give the intern permanent employment. They might be lucky and have impressed so much that they are given a job, but the employer could just move on to the next intern to save money. The intern will then update their CV and LinkedIn profile with their experience, and search for the next internship or (fingers crossed) permanent design role.

The good news is that a great shoe design intern can become a shoe designer who does get to travel. They will also get to work on more exciting ranges, and may even get to meet and work with a celebrity “designer”.

Next time: Discover the secret life of a Junior Shoe Designer

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SCANDI SEASON

  • A sleek lace-up for a polished work look, followed by a stylish evening appearance. Just add a vampy lipstick shade.
  • Slouchy knee-high styles are back on trend. Wear these 2½" heeled boots over skinny jeans, jeggings or tights. Mmm cosy.
  • A decadent metallic printed ankle boot, perfect for the party season. The moderate height of this 2" heel gives a little lift without pain.
  • Neoprene uppers and a mid-height block heel give these over-the-knee boots a sporty not slutty look. Opt for skater-style skirts rather than tight minis.
  • In leaf-coloured suede with an unusually-shaped heel, this ankle boot makes a statement without being brash. Everyone will be wondering where they're from.
  • These flatform Chelseas offer a sporty looking option which doesn't scream the name of an athletics brand. An easy casual style in on-trend grey with black.
  • A chunky boot with a dash of 90's grunge attitude. In earthy dark olive with a polished toe, the 1" platform makes the 3" heel feel like 2". Bliss.
  • The pointed pixie boot looks fresh again. Try this sleek muted red option with cropped tailored trousers.
  • Just a simple Chelsea boot with a 2" lift, and pointed toe. The colour is a traditional English tan which is smart enough for the office under trousers.

 

The Autumn season provides you with an opportunity to showcase a different side of your personal style. Instead of strappy sandals and bright prints, it’s time to display your sophisticated take on shoe fashion.

Swedish brand Vagabond’s new Autumn/Winter collection is all about the silhouette. They bring us unusually shaped heels, boot heights from ankle grazer to thigh-high, and a selection of muted hues. All of the heel heights are wearable, with no wobbly stilettos in sight.

Have a look through the slide show and click through to nab your favourite pair.

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BROCADE BRIGADE

  • Kat Maconie's "dancer" embroidery gives a strong graphic look to these suede boots. The unique block heel adds angular interest.
  • The soft tropical floral print is offset by a sharp pointed toe, and edgy back zip. Paler colours avoid the drabness of dark autumnal colours. Great with grey.
  • Intricate Eastern-inspired embroidery stands out brightly against a black background. A modest 2½" heel gives lift with comfort.
  • Sequins give a 3-dimensional look to these black beauties from & Other Stories. Great with a short-trousered tuxedo for gender bending evening glam.
  • Red or Dead provide a dash of vintage with this embroidery pattern. This is contrasted by a more modern, unusually-placed asymmetric zip.
  • A beautiful fabric of blues and gold surrounds both the upper and heel of these simple ASOS ankle boots. The perfect 3"-heel for all-evening wear.
  • Ornate gold jacquard combines with an ultra feminine bow and 1960s-style square toe. These boots are lifted by an easy 2" heel.
  • Who says cherry blossom is only seen in the springtime? Sam Edelman have perked up a dark winter boot with this pink metallic embroidery.
  • A mixture of native American influences combine to create the earthy-toned embroidery on this Topshop boot. Go bohemian, or sharpen with tailoring.
  • Something about the style of embroidery and the shape of these boots reminds me of traditional Chinese lotus shoes. Don't expect toe-bending discomfort here.

 

Autumn weather = more substantial footwear. Your feet may feel sad at the end of summer and a little claustrophobic but it’s not all doom, gloom, and chilblains. There are some positive things about the change in season. Full coverage shoes and boots provide a larger canvas for displaying your style.

When clothing colours become more sombre, dressing from the feet up helps you to make a statement.

Brocade, jacquard, and embroidery feature on many of the new boots in the shops and online this season. Fabric boots can look rich, but remain affordable.

Click through the slide show to see my selection of the best, most wearable statement boots of the season.

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WIN THE SHOE SHOPPING KIT

Would you like a chance to *WIN* my ebook The Shoe Shopping Kit?

All you need to do is complete this quick and easy survey.

It’ll only take around 1 minute, so what are you waiting for?

Please share the survey with your friends, so they can be in with a chance of winning too.

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TO THE POINT

  • Grey suede
    Grey suede
    Contrasting heel, sole and elastic stop this neutral grey boot from Miss KG from looking drab. The 55mm block heel is a comfortable height for all day.
  • Tan leather
    Tan leather
    A smart brown option for work and weekend wear from Swedish brand Vagabond. The rubber sole, moderate 48mm heel, and pull tabs add practicality.
  • Silver lizard
    Silver lizard
    Look like the lead singer not the groupie in these Hudson boots. Perfect with black leather and grey denim. The lining is leather for day to night comfort.
  • Merlot snake
    Merlot snake
    A sophisticated option from Topshop Unique with a sleek silhouette. An easy 30mm heel for a touch of lift without feeling like a heel.
  • Sand suede
    Sand suede
    This 40mm heeled slip on from Mango, is a useful casual for dashing about while looking great. The elastic shape gives a nod to this season's Western trend.
  • Bronze metallic
    Bronze metallic
    This boot from & Other Stories was built for comfort as well as street cred with its 65mm heel, cushioned leather insole and rubber coated leather outsole.

 

I’m a big fan of Chelsea boots. They look sleek with no fussy laces or buckles, and they’re easy to pull on in a hurry.

Before I had Mini Shoe Consultant, I needed Chelseas so I didn’t miss my commuter train. Now it takes long enough to get the baby ready without delaying things further with my fussy boot fastenings.

I had a pair of white patent Chelsea boots, that I wore until they begged to go to shoe heaven. They had black elastic, pointed toes and a rubber sole. The contrast of black versus white gave an edgy rock-chick look, and the point completed that aesthetic. Once the patent leather lost its initial stiffness, those boots were incredibly comfortable.

Sale time is over, and new boot styles are jumping on to the shop shelves. The shoe gods have bestowed a fine selection of cool, comfortable pointed Chelsea boots this season. Click through the slide show for my selection.

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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 1990s, ballet flats suitable for outdoor wear were worn by a few sophisticated ladies in the UK, but were only available in a few specialist outlets such as French Sole. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that this style became fashionable for women in the mainstream. It was then that the likes of Topshop in the UK introduced a rainbow of colour options.

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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