While I do love heels, it’s not often that I get to wear them (in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I wore them), which is why flats are very much my shoe of choice. However, if there’s one girl who loves flat shoes more than I do, it’s Hannah Rochell, founder of the fantastic blog En Brogue. Dedicated to her love of beautiful flat footwear, Hannah’s blog is as brilliant as it is stylish. And, as Junior Fashion Editor of In Style magazine, she is most definitely the woman to go to for the inside track on brogues, ballet shoes, sandals and boots. Of course, you can’t wear flat shoes alone (unless you are a dedicated nudist with a thing for covered feet), which is why we’re thrilled that Hannah has given us the lowdown on her wardrobe.
Over to Hannah…
I’m not naturally a very smart person, so I’m lucky that I work in fashion and this gets overlooked in the office!
- In the summer I live in shorts and loose fitting tops – weather permitting. In this summer’s fabulous weather my Folk shorts with pink embroidered panels have been a firm favourite, as have an old pair of tile print Zara ones that are sporty in shape. I’ve really enjoyed wearing my Charlotte Taylor bee print T-shirt too as the neon yellow print makes me smile.
- My favourite jeans are the Paris by MiH Jeans. I’m only 5’2” and find most jeans too long for me; these are meant to be cropped but on me just skim the ankle so are the perfect length. I prefer slim and skinny styles and ALWAYS wear a turn up to show off my shoes. Levi’s are also a great shape and length for me. I just discovered their brilliant new Revel jeans, which have slimming qualities.
- I wear skirts far less than jeans, but when I do I always make sure the hem falls above the knee. This is SO important when wearing flat shoes, unless you are blessed with longer legs than me. I like A-line skirts as I think they are really flattering, and I love leather skirts. My favourites are a chestnut A-line leather kilt by Raoul and a heavy, cream leather skirt by Marni.
Most of my wardrobe has a vaguely retro vibe to it, so I love tops with a print. I have a short sleeved knitted sweater by Ostwald Helgason that I usually wear the second it comes out of the wash! It has a 60s-style orange and blue pattern on it and looks brilliant with anything from a leather skirt to some loose fitting trousers. I also love classic Fred Perry tennis shirts with all the buttons done up. My favourite is a grey one with yellow checked collar.
I don’t buy a new coat every winter because I have a couple of favourites that come out year after year. Top of the list has to be my Paul Smith cashmere tailored coat; it’s grey but totally reversible so it can be worn on the yellow side too. Two coats for the price of one! It’s also super-lightweight and is pretty much the smartest item of clothing that I own, so it’s really special in so many ways. I’d be lost without it. Then there’s my wet weather coat – a 6 year-old black French Connection parka that is still good as new despite repeatedly being battered in the rain. When I zip up the hood it’s totally impenetrable, so I have no need for an umbrella.
- I’ve always loved flat shoes as I’m a bit of a tomboy, but when I started working in fashion I felt a pressure to wear heels. “They won’t think I’m serious if I can’t wear heels!” I thought. So I bought a few pairs and I hated wearing them. I totally lost my style identity, ironic considering the career I was embarking on. But I also have a problem with my back that gets worse when I wear heels, so as my confidence grew with my career I veered back into flats again. Then one day I just decided to throw all the heels out. It was so liberating! I’ve never felt so sure of my personal style in my life as I do now, and I can always run for the bus if necessary!
- I like all sorts of flat shoes, but I do have some favourite styles that I buy over and over again. I couldn’t live without ankle boots in the winter, and I prefer something slip-on with some brogue detailing. My favourites pairs are by Grenson and Ludwig Reiter.
- I also love desert boots – Penelope Chilvers does a lovely take on this style with an espadrille sole (I have two pairs, one blue velvet and one tile printed canvas) and you can’t beat Clarks Originals for the classic style.
- For formal events I have an array of pointy flats as I find I feel more appropriate in them than a round toe ballet pump. There’s something about that pointy toe that almost feels like a heel. I recently wore a bright yellow pair by Diane von Furstenberg when I was a bridesmaid, and I lasted much longer on the dancefloor than the other bridesmaids, who had to take their heels off. I also have some lovely pointy snake print slippers by Jemima Vine, which are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned.
I don’t really wear any jewellery at all, save for my engagement and wedding rings, and a coral ring that my dad gave my mum. I wear a few delicate charm bracelets by Monica Vinader and Astley Clarke, but generally if I have to take jewellery off before I go to bed, I’m likely to forget to put it back on in the morning, so they stay on the whole time!
- I have a few bags that I switch between depending on what I am doing. I have a large blue LK Bennett leather bag with bright orange stitching that’s great for when I have to carry lots of paperwork or my iPad.
- I use a Mint Velvet ponyskin shoulder bag for everyday.
- And then I have two leather cross body bags – a tan one by Coach and a white one by & Other Stories – that I use at the weekend when I need less stuff. I even have a tiny Jaeger wallet for my money at the weekend so I can use these smaller bags!
My style doesn’t change a lot from day to evening, as I do a lot of my socialising straight after work. But, if I am going on a night out, I might wear a Breton stripe top with a leather skirt, or one of my Raoul bright coloured silk blouses with some jeans and pointy flats. Nothing too flashy, just an extra slick of eyeliner and I might tong my hair too. I have lots of clutches for the evening though, as I think an eye-catching bag can really lift an outfit. I love my white and neon yellow one by Sarah Baily, as well as my stingray clutch by Baukjen.
- There are a few things that are always in my bathroom, but I’m pretty low maintenance. Dyptique Philosikos is the only perfume I like the smell of on me, so I always have a large supply of that!
- A cheap liquid liner is a must, my favourite is Tattoo Me semi permanent liner by Seventeen (only £4.99 from Boots and it properly stays put!).
- Dolce & Gabbana’s Perfect Luminous Liquid Foundation is amazing, and well worth the investment (it lasts ages too!).
- And as I spend so much time photographing my feet, I have a LOT of nail polish. I find Essie, Orly and OPI last the longest.
- I don’t advise buying cheap shoes as I really believe in investing in quality and then looking after what you already have. Especially since there’s nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable shoes and in my experience, cheap shoes tend to be just that.
- Saying that, I do think it’s a great idea to wait until the sales to get your shoes, because investment means buying something classic that won’t date, so I don’t really worry about fast fashion trends so much.
- For designer brands Shoescribe.com has a fabulous edit and its sales are really good. It’s always worth checking The Outnet too. Keep an eye out for sample sales; Grenson advertises its sample sales on its Facebook page and Twitter, and you can bag some amazing bargains there.
- There are some high street brands that manage to produce good quality, well designed shoes at a reasonable price. I have a couple of pairs of shoes from Office that I’ve had for years, & Other Stories has really interesting designs, and Clarks is well worth checking out this season (yes, Clarks!).