My spring essentials are pumps. I’ve lived in my tan brogue boots and my hiking trainers all winter but now that the weather is warming up and the clocks have gone forward I’m confident that it’s time to switch over to springtime shoes. So that’s what I’m talking about in today’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post, plus I’m giving you the opportunity to win ANY pair shoes from StriveFootwear.com in my giveaway so read on to find out how to enter this fab giveaway..!Now it’s not yet time for summer sandals, but my usual boots are too heavy for this transitional season; what I really need is a pair of pumps. I usually live in flats throughout the spring and summer, so over the past few years I’ve got through countless pairs. You know the type; cheap, flimsy and prone to holes! Okay, I haven’t spent much money on these budget shoes (thank goodness, because I’m getting through the like a packet of biscuits) but ideally I’d like a pair to last me a season and save me the effort of taking regular trips to the shops.After wearing Strive trainers in my day-to-day life, I concluded that the brand might be the solution for my spring/summer pumps too. I knew they make comfy sandals but I hadn’t ever investigated their shoe collection. Thankfully, the brand didn’t disappoint and I managed to find a pair of Hampton flats in the new season collection.
Did you know that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the famous Converse All-Star high-top trainers? I didn’t either until I started Googling “Converse” when I was looking for a gift for my husband. A quick search not only brought up a whole host of classic designs to choose from but also a whole lot of history about the brand itself. I’m such a geek when it comes to gaining knowledge about the things I buy so I delved deeper to find out more. Read on to find out what I discovered about Converse…Let’s take it back to the very beginning; The Converse Rubber Shoe Company (to give the brand it’s full, original title) opened its doors back in 1908 in the US, making all kinds of athletic shoes before specialising in tennis shoes in 1915. This early success led the company to develop new styles of sports shoes with rubber soles… I think you know where I’m going with this! It was in 1917 that the Converse All-Star Basketball shoes were introduced. And when basketball player Chuck Taylor put his name behind the brand in 1920, the high-top style really started to take off. It was no longer just a shoe for playing sports in. Oh no.
Over the years the iconic design has become the footwear of choice for off-duty fashionistas and is the ultimate in casual cool. Fans started customising their All-Stars to make them their own and the style was reproduced in countless new fabrics, patterns and colours. Nowadays you can even have your own design made just for you by Converse using the customizer tool on their website.
Enter my £50 giveaway below…
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hubby and I celebrated a day early because it was a really sunny day yesterday and we wanted to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a walk. So we bundled up with our coats, scarves and gloves (it might have been sunny, but it was still a little nippy!) and headed out into the Suffolk countryside for a walk.We planned our walk around Framlingham Castle – Ed Sheeran’s ‘castle on the hill’ – so that we could take some photos of the stunning landmark in the winter sunshine. I’d been inspired to enjoy a low-cost day out after reading an article full of ideas for Valentine’s Day on a budget, so a walk (with a packed lunch!) was just the ticket. With it being half term (and a ‘Knights and Princesses’ event taking place inside the castle) it was a busy spot for a Monday morning, but all the other walkers we met were in good spirits. What I didn’t bargain for was just how muddy the paths around the picturesque mere would be. At least it gave us a chance to test out our new walking shoes – this terrain certainly put them through their paces. If my feet could stay comfortable and dry in this environment, then I’m pretty sure that the shoes will stand up to anything we throw at them in the future.
When my husband suggested walking around the castle moat, I was hesitant. I wasn’t planning on going for a paddle! He insisted that it was a ‘dry moat’ (well, I’ve never heard of a dry moat before, have you?!) so we climbed down the stairs and fair enough, it was pretty dry… as far as moats go.Interestingly enough, there were some lovely views from the moat looking up at the walls of the castle. It feels really imposing from below and the blue sky set off the stone castle walls beautifully. Even looking back into the sunshine created some really impressive silhouettes of the ancient walls.
Just what IS the difference between a £25 pair of boots and a £250 pair? Can the higher priced pair really be that much better than the cheapy shoes? For some reason, there’s a big difference in this area between mens and womens shoes (proably something to do with the construction of ladies shoes) so today I’m focusing on menswear in this price v quality comparison. I’ve done my research and found out why some boots are worth so much more than others and that’s what I’d like to share with you this Tuesday Shoesday.It’s easy to say that the quality of the shoes is simply better in the higher priced pair but in what way specifically? I focused my research on Joseph Cheaney & Sons, who are Britain’s oldest boot and shoemakers. They produce handmade footwear for Boden, Shackleton Company and Herring to name just a few, and the price is definitely at the upper end of the scale. So let’s have a look at this producer and find out what goes into a pair of their boots.The first thing to note is that their footwear is still handmade. Okay, the product is made in a factory environment but it’s in Northampton, not China, and each stage of the process involves a real person handling the boots, not just a machine. In fact, each pair of boots goes through more than 200 hand-tooled processes and takes over eight weeks to ‘build’. When you hear the phrase ‘built to last’ this is probably what it means! Just to be clear, this isn’t a promotional blog post for Cheaney and Sons – although I’d be doing a good job if it was! – I’m just using them as an example of a traditional bootmaker that is still creating handmade items here in the UK and comparing them to the cheaper end of the footwear market.All I know for sure is that my husband’s shoes last years longer if they’re £100+ leather shoes from Clarks or Boden, or if they’re £300+ handmade boots from Shackleton. But when he wears supermarket or high street shoes, it’s barely a matter of months before they are worn through with holes that let in the rain, and have cracked, broken or flapping soles. So it must be the production method that make all the difference, right? That, and the quality of the materials too.So, back at Cheaney and Sons, the uppers are all made in genuine leather and the rubber soles are made by Goodyear. Yes, the tyre people. That probably explains why these soles don’t wear through like the cheap plastic versions in the budget fashion stores. If it’s good enough for a car, it’s probably okay for my husband’s feet! The soles of Clarks shoes also wear really well, and quite often the colour and condition of the shoes is what ‘gives up’ before the soles do. In fact, I made a video about giving my husband’s Clarks blue suede shoes a makeover with fabric dye, which goes to show that although the colour faded, the shoes were still absolutely fine to wear and could be brought back to life with just a little bit of effort (and some dye!)The same goes with real leather shoes – if you look after them and ‘feed’ them with polish, the leather will stay supple for many years. And the longevity of these higher-priced shoes is actually what makes them the ‘thrifty’ option. Okay, I know it doesn’t seem thrifty to splash out hundreds of pounds on a pair of boots, but if you’re sure that they are the style, colour and fit for you, they will probably last you a lifetime. And if they do, just imagine how low the cost-per-wear would be after just 10 years of wearing them! If you pulled on a pair of £300 boots every day it would be 0.08p per wear by the time the decade was over, and the boots would probably still be fine for at least another 10 years too.Still, as such a bargain hunter I really struggle to part with my cash all at once. It’s a difficult one to call, but when my husband can get through 4 pairs of £20 shoes in a year, yet his £100 Clarks shoes have survived 3 years without complaint, I think that the sums kind of add up in favour of the ‘investment’ footwear brands. Let me know if you have any experience of high prices vs bargain shoes and what you think is best by leaving me a comment below. And if you’re interested in watching my suede dying video – here it is:
I’ve decided to write about my new handbag for this week’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post. Okay, I know it’s not strictly a shoesday post without any shoes, but the handbag did come from shoe brand Hotter, so I think it’s the ideal time to talk about handbags.Now, I’m not someone who will buy a new handbag just because I like the look of it, or because it matches an outfit or follows a new trend. In fact, I don’t buy bags very often at all. I don’t have a different bag for every occasion or for different seasons. Nope, I tend to choose one bag and that one bag will do me very nicely until it falls apart. And that’s when I’ll buy another one.You may have guessed from this that I don’t see handbags as a fashion accessory. I see them as purely practical; something to carry my important stuff from one place to another. I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter at all what the handbag looks like, because I have my preferences in the looks department too. But most important is that it can fit everything in, with lots of pockets and is easy to carry. My last two handbags have been Disaster Designs satchels. The first one I tried was the best. I really liked how it looked, with a map-print design and brown faux-leather flap. It was big enough to fit in everything I needed to carry, even notepads and ipads could fit in there. In fact, it was a little too big at times – if I only needed to carry a purse, it seemed to get lost in the vast space inside the bag, swishing around like a teabag in a bucket. But it lasted for years. I’m taking maybe 2-3 years before it finally started coming apart. I’d already ruined the lining with a leaky pen and plenty of spilled makeup by this point, but I was still sad to see it go.
This Tuesday Shoesday I want to talk about one of my favourite new trends for A/W16 – textured shoes. I’m talking suede, velvet or even crushed velvet being used to decorate even the daintiest of sandals. It’s not just about chunky suede boots this year (although I did already invest in a lovely pair of suede boots that go with everything for Autumn), tiny pumps, classy court shoes, platforms and strappy sandals have all been given the textured treatment.
I think it’s the soft texture that makes them feel suitable for this time of year – its as though the texture makes them feel more cosy. Even though the shoes might be dainty or strappy and totally unsuitable for cold days, the soft texture gives the impression of warmth. Plus, it looks great with party dresses and wooly suits alike, so will fit in with your winter wardrobe seamlessly.
The textured fabric seems to lend a vintage feeling to most styles of shoes. The slightly muted colours created by a brushed suede or crushed velvet fabric resemble the faded hues in an old photograph. I really like this effect and, as a vintage girl at heart, it makes me want to invest in textured shoes even more to get that 70s vibe. I spotted these retro-inspired t-bar shoes below and fell in love.
I’ve never seen an autumn like it. There are so many leaves on the ground at the moment that you can’t really see the grass anymore. The colours are so vibrant and I’m sure there are more shades of orange, red, green, yellow and brown in this year’s fallen leaves than ever before. And with a garden covered in beautiful autumn leaves like this, who wouldn’t go outside for a spot of leave-kicking at the weekend? Well, that’s what I did anyway!My husband did the most adorable thing and raked the leaves into the shape of a heart. And then even went to the trouble of spelling out the word autumn across the middle. He’s a creative sort and knows how much I love this time of year. I’m pretty sure that’s why he did it, and not just to get a great Instagram photo for himself. Anyway, after he’d finished taking some snaps, I had the best fun kicking my way through the words and destroying the whole thing, bwahahahha!As it’s Tuesday Shoesday I felt it would be appropriate to share some snaps of my new autumn boots at the same time. After my trusty brown boots finally crumbled after two years of constant wear, I decided it was time for a new pair. I wanted them to last me well, but look a little more cool than I usually choose. Plus, I needed my shoes to come in under my £20 budget too. That’s not too much to ask is it? Well, apparently yes, it is.I had trouble finding a pair of boots that did everything I needed. I mean, I just wanted some boots with a small heel, speedy zip fastening (I’ve no time for laces these days), in lovely faux suede or leather, and in this year’s hottest colour navy blue. After shopping around it started to look like my thrifty budget wasn’t going to stretch to a new pair of boots for me this year. However, when I hopped onto the Deichmann website I found rows and rows of shoes and boots, with most of them priced at £20 and under.I perked up a bit at this point and clicked through out their most recent collection for Autumn/Winter 2017. Wahey! Boots! Wedge boots, Chelsea boots, ankle boots and knee-high boots. And not just boots; my favourite shoe style brogues were available in patent navy blue too. But that’s not what I was there for. I stuck to my shopping list and looked only at the ankle boots section. My will-power is strong. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Blue suede boots for autumn” »
Whenever September rolls around I get that ‘new-term’ feeling. Even though I’m no longer a student, when you add up all the years that I have been studying in one way or another (yes, I’m even counting primary school), we’re looking at upwards of 20 years in education. So it’s no wonder that I still see September as the start of a new chapter – and still use an academic diary! I see it as a time to kick off some resolutions. In fact, it’s probably a better time of year to make resolutions than January, as you’ve got the end of the year as a marker for quantifying your goals. Whether it’s learning a new language (yes, I’m trying to learn Spanish this year), getting fitter, changing your working habits or improving your savings, I think that September is a great time to start.So, why am I talking about new goals on a Tuesday Shoesday? Surely this blog post is about shoes, right? Right! But my new shoes are linked to my new-term resolutions, and here are the reasons why: I took a bit of time off over the summer and it was only when I got back into the swing of full-time work that I realised just how bad my back and neck is. I went for physiotherapy earlier this year to correct a neck problem (caused by a historical whiplash injury over 10 years ago) and I thought everything was getting better. Over the summer, I barely noticed anything wrong with my neck and all those headaches were gone. However, as soon as I got back to my desk it became obvious what the problem was – my working environment. All the aches and pains came rushing back and it was difficult to get through a full day of work. So here’s my solution, and how it links to the shoes:I’m now a standing worker. I realised that sitting down all day was causing a lot of problems; heavy legs, pins and needles, bad back and strained neck. No matter how ergonomic my desk set-up was, I needed to get up off my bum and work standing up. So I gave it a go by moving my computer onto a higher work surface for a couple of days to see how I got on. It worked miracles. No problems at all. Apart from one small thing; my feet ached. My cheap flat pumps were clearly NOT made for standing all day! It reminded me of working in hospitality jobs when I was running around all day and really needed a foot massage at the end of the day. So one problem solved ended up causing another problem, but there was something I could do about that…
If you need new sports clothing I think that Fabletics (designed by Kate Hudson) can’t be beaten for style and performance.
I’ve reviewed comfort shoes on my blog in the past and I discovered that, for heels, Hotter cannot be beaten. However, I’ve always struggled to find a decent pair of comfort shoes that are also a little more on the sporty side. Most flat comfort shoes are a little bit too ‘old lady’ for me (no offence) and I’ve shied away from them, preferring basic low-cost pumps when I want to wear flat shoes. I read some reviews about sports shoes and zumba shoes online (read the article at NicerShoes.com) and now I’ve finally found a pair of comfort shoes that I want to show off – they’re sporty, available in great colours and are SO comfortable it’s unreal.
When you really love a pair of shoes, you find yourself wearing them at every opportunity. Perhaps they are the comfiest shoes you’ve ever worn, maybe they are the coolest colour or are an on-trend shape, or it can be as simple as ‘they go with everything’. Whatever the reason, it’s really sad when they come to their end of their wearable life. Fabric fades and scuffs appear, and they get relegated to the back of the wardrobe.This is especially true for suede shoes, which need a lot of looking after to stop them from looking worn. So if (like me) you’ve been a little too lazy to waterproof your suede, or haven’t given them a daily brushing, and you didn’t not wear them on rainy days, then you might have a pair of rather poorly-looking suede shoes under your bed. When hubby’s favourite suede trainers ended up faded, mucky, scuffed and stained, I knew it was either time to throw them out… or do something about it.I hopped online and googled “shoe dye”. It turns out that it IS possible to give his old shoes a new lease of life with dye, and I picked up this Dylon navy blue shoe dye for less than £4 on Ebay. The bottle of dye comes with instructions and a small brush and can be painted onto onto any shoes that need a makeover. The colours of shoe dye tend to be quite dark, so you can easily go from blue to navy, or something like green to black. If you want to dye your shoes to refresh them year-on-year just go one step darker each time, so red shoes could be dyed brown and next time they could be painted black. Okay, you’ll end up with much darker shoes than before, but they’ll look good as new and you already know they’re comfy! Check out my step-by-step video below (it’s only 3 mins long) to find out how to bring your shoes back to their ‘box-fresh’ best with fabric dye (or view it on my YouTube channel here):
I hope this helps you refresh your own favourite shoes so that you can keep wearing them for years to come – and save cash on replacing them! My husband was really chuffed when he found out that I’d dyed his shoes and that he could carry on wearing his favourite comfy trainers. And when he ruins them again (on more off-road walks!) this year, I’ll simply dye them again. Good plan, eh? Let me know if you have a go at dying your own footwear, and any tips you have for looking after suede in general – it’s pretty obvious that we need some advice on this (!) so please leave me a comment below.
You know the story – you are looking for that perfect pair of shoes for that perfect outfit, but the high street stores just keep coming up short. Heels are too high, too chunky, and actually in general, colours are a little muted. So what’s the next step (pardon the pun) to finding that idyllic pair of shoes that combine both incredible individual style along with supreme comfort? Well the answer could very well lie in choosing vintage. Made in an era of assured quality with longevity of use in mind, the vintage shoe is far from being a cheaper option, but is more of a wise move for those who want incredible style with that unique touch.Colour Pop wow!
The 1980’s were famous for bright colours that had no respect for matching, a look that has returned to the fashion world recently, making these shoes ahead of their time. The advantage of a vintage pair of shoes can often be the condition. Bought in an era where you often bought shoes with the sole purpose of matching a certain outfit, this means they can have minimal signs of wear, just as with these suede shoes in red and purple. With a lower heel that makes longer wearing a breeze, a coloured sole that screams designer and an overall look that is sure to make a positive style statement, they are pretty much shoe perfection. Yet, by buying vintage, these shoes come at a fraction of the cost you would expect from buying a new pair.Quality wins out
There is no denying that leather shoes, as with many leather products, can improve with age. Not only does it provide a look that develops over time but in terms of comfort the shoe will start to adapt to your foot shape. With vintage, the advantage is that often you have cut out the middle-man as it were, meaning that the shoes are already supremely comfortable from day one. These iconic courts are a modern day office dream, exuding the professional working look. Dated to the 1960’s, the buckled look has not aged and reflects current trends perfectly. The burgundy/brown colour means they will match almost any outfit whilst still creating a bit of a shoe buzz.