The kooky wedding

Last year, I talked about the problems of trying to dress glamorously for weddings when you have arthritis, thus delicate spindly shoes are out.  This year, I was invited to the wedding of a friend I have known since I was 12 years old (a very long time ago now), which gave me the chance to go all out on dressing how I wanted. That’s not to say I shouldn’t have looked amazing, my friend has high standards and a very strong eye for detail, it’s just she is cool and not very mainstream so, traditional wedding attire was out, and celebrating the unique was in.

So, my mind wandered straight to buying a jumpsuit! Jumpsuits have several advantages at weddings: trousers are easier to move about in, you don’t trip over them on stairs, and nobody sees your pants when you fall over during the giant tug-of-war (it was that sort of wedding), but the advantage of a dress is that you don’t have to mess about getting the top and bottom sorted. The jumpsuit has the best of both worlds, and they look more ‘special occasion’ than trousers and a top because it’s not something you wear (or I wear, anyway) everyday. Sometimes, smart trousers and a top can look a bit ‘meeting with head office’. The downsides of jumpsuits are, first, getting them to fit. I have a long body and relatively short thighs, so you can imagine how easy it is to find jumpsuits that don’t ‘cheese-wire’ in the delicate areas and, second, most are cut with a tapered leg, which makes anyone with a big bum look even wider, especially if you have a small waist.

However, I found this jumpsuit at The Finery; I loved the print, and it fitted like a dream.

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Finery columbia jumpsuit: £69 (in the sale)

The fact that the trousers are wide-legged helped to balance out my proportions, and the belt helped to highlight the waist, Also the fabric is really flowy and flattering, which helps to make it dressy. I really want to wear it again (if the dry cleaners can get the wine stains out).

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holding my first of many flutes of fizz…

 

Also in the sale are these jumpsuits from Whistles, which I think would flatter all figures (although some are tricky to wear a bra underneath, which would put me off):

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Whistles tangerine dream jumpsuit: £135
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Whistles nadia jumpsuit: £175
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Whistles jaipur jumpsuit: £255
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Whistles delia jumpsuit: £235

And as for the shoes, the beauty of jumpsuits and trousers is that you can wear robust shoes on the feet without it looking strange. I was going to buy some white brogues, but the hot weather ruled that out, and I wore some petty awesome gold sandals:

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These are old sandals I bought in the sale from a shop called Northern Cobbler, who make really beautiful, quality shoes.

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They’re not the cheapest shoes, but they’re so lovely, and perfect for weddings where you can go a bit off-piste in the shoe department (when I got these shoes, I was thinking of this particular wedding, before it had even be proposed…)

This style has long sold out, but for some funky, bad-ass retro sandals, Grenson do this pair:

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Grenson Ethel: £220

But if you like the woven sandals, I think they’re called ‘fisherman sandals’, Churches have this beautiful silver pair:

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Churches kelsey : €390

But if your budget won’t stretch that far, Saltwater sandals make a nice pair of sandals, and you can wear them on the beach afterwards:

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Saltwater sharks: £65

 

Bargains with a side helping of bargain

So, the UK had a general election, in which you could legitimately vote for Lord Buckethead and Mr Fishfinger, so it’s not been the most normal couple of days. The knock-on effect of the surprising exit polls was to send the value of the pound down against the euro. So, what should you not do if you’re in the UK? Shop in euros. What did I do anyway because of free delivery and 20% of already marked down prices? Yes! I shopped in euros!

If you are also feeling a bit nuts, you may like to know that Ancient Greek Sandals are having an extra 20% off their sale items with the code MRK20, which is valid until the 18th of June 2017. If you do it today you will also get free shipping to EU countries (better make the most of that while we’re still in, eh? #toosoonforBrexitjokes?)

But seriously, these discounts do make the prospect of an expensive, yet very beautiful, pair of sandals a bit less of a hit on the bank balance, despite the weak pound, and if you’re shopping using euros as currency, you go girls and boys! There are bargains to be had.

I went for these because I love the steel grey colour:

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Alethea: €120 + 20% off at checkout

But these also took my fancy, there are a range of sizes left, so everyone should be able to find something that they like…

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Athanasia: €102 + 20% off
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Clio croc: €128 + 20% off
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Eros: €116 + 20% off
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Fotini: €116 + 20% off
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Niove: €156 + 20% off

This is just a small selection; I purposefully haven’t included the ones that tie around the leg or the slides, as they are not great for the arthritis, but there are some beautiful shoes in both these categories if they tickle your fancy so have a look…

Taste the rainbow

We’re big believers in equality at Shoeslifeblog Towers, and I was interested to hear on the news today that the Scottish Episcopalian church was voting on allowing gay marriage in church. As an honorary Scot, I am proud my favourite country is being progressive and challenging dogma.

So, it seemed fitting to write about the Converse Pride range that has just come out. Not only is it super colourful, all net proceeds from the 2017 Pride Collection will go to the It Gets Better project and the Happy Hippie Foundation, which are committed to empowering LGBTQ youth around the world.

I love going to the Pride parade in London (not as much as my daughter who would dress as a rainbow everyday if I would let her), and although I am missing the parade this year to go to a festival, I might get a pair of these to celebrate in absentia.

For a subtle touch of rainbow, the rainbow laces on these white converse are perfect:

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Chuck Taylor All Star Pride core: £65

 

However, if you wanted something a little more rainbow but not too over the top:

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Chuck Taylor All Star Pride mesh: £55

I love the rainbow tabs at the end of the laces!

These are my daughter’s choice, however, and the ones to pick if you really love rainbows too. Sadly they don’t come in children’s sizes, which she was very disappointed about:

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Chuck Taylor All Star Pride geostar: £60

All the soles in the range have a rainbow colourway. They really are pretty special:

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Unfortunately, the Pride range is only available in the original Chuck Taylor model, which is not as cushioned as the Chuck Taylor II (which is much better for people with arthritis). That said, they’re so happy, it would be difficult not to feel good wearing them. #yestoall

Back to black

It’s finally summer, and as such it is time for me to reacquaint myself with all my summer shoes that I store away for winter. Picture a grown woman delving through boxes like a child at Christmas, cooing and sighing at the discoveries; it’s a pathetic spectacle to witness but a lot of fun to do, so I stand by my actions and thoroughly recommend hiding shoes away for 6 months of the year (be sure to do an inventory before you buy anything out of season though!).

One of my most hard-working purchases this year has been this black dress from Me+Em:

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Me+Em drape front dress: £119

I love a black summer dress, and this is a great summer staple that does day and evening. It’s little clingy, but flatteringly so, and it looks very elegant (it is long though, and it’s not the sort of dress you could easily alter because it has a wide hem. It fits me at 5’7″, but if you are a lot shorter I am not sure it would work so well). It’s so elegant, in fact, that the best way to wear this dress is with simple black sandals like the ones in the picture: simple clean lines. No faff. No messing.

The sandals in the picture are by my favourite sandal company: Ancient Greek Sandals. I think these are the Clio, but so many on the website would be perfect. They’re beautiful, really well made and very soft on the feet, I rate them very highly:

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Ancient Greek Sandals clio: €125
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Ancient Greek Sandals sofia: €145
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Ancient Greek Sandals apli yianna: €135

They are, however, not that soft on the bank balance, and at the moment I’m spending a lot of money on my house, so I can’t really justify spending ~£100 on a few straps of leather for my feet. So, I have turned to the highstreet for some cheaper inspiration, and at the moment it’s hard not to find anything that’s not covered in studs, pearls or tassels (not that that’s a bad thing, I love me some embellishment, it’s just not what I want right now).

Fortunately, ASOS has come up with the goods. They’re not all leather, but they are all much less expensive, and unlike a few I have seen on the highstreet recently, they don’t look really cheap (Next and M&S, I am talking to you):

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Monki gladiator sandal: £25
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Fiasco western buckle sandals: £22
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Fixation plaited leather sandals: £16

£16 for leather sandals! I mean, I don’t expect these to last longer than one summer but still…

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Fiona tie-leg sandals: £10
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Feline jelly sandals: £10
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Forceful leather sandals: £18
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Flery leather sandals: £16

I think my favourite of these is the ASOS Forceful, my only concern would be that the quality of leather won’t be so good, so they might rub on the heel. If you suffer with rubbing shoes, the Flery is probably a better bet…

If you’re prepared to spend a little bit extra, for a little more quality (which often translates as comfort), Clarks have a plain black strappy sandal.

They’re nothing to write home about, it’s very basic, but Clarks shoes are comfortable and they do last. I have a pair of gladiator sandals that work with everything, and I bought them years ago:

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Clarks voyage hop: £40

They have ‘cushionsoft’ padding in the footbed, so are a better bet if you have arthritis and want something a little sturdier, and they’re still not going to break the bank.

Birkenstop!

So, I received an email today informing me that the British Birkenstock website birkenstock.co.uk was soon to cease trading from the end of May. Oh no!

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What? It’s about shoes

You will still be able to buy Birkenstocks (and other foot-loving shoes) online in the UK from thenaturalshoestore.com but the brand’s own website is being decommissioned, which I hope is not a reflection on how the company is doing nor an unwillingness for European companies to stay in the UK.

In any case, Birkenstock are offering a 20% discount across The Natural Shoe Store (non-sale) range with the code: BIRK-SS17-20

I’m a fan of Birkenstocks, and they’re the only slides I seem to get away with (though I wouldn’t do any long-distance in them). They’re what I tend to wear around the garden, and I always have a pair of the excellent wool slippers:

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Amsterdam slippers: £44.95 (£35.96 with discount)

Although I am kind of tempted by the Mahabis slippers. Does anyone know whether these are any good? They’re a lot of money to take a chance on when the Birkenstocks (although not exactly a cheap slipper let’s be honest) suit me very well…

Anyway, Birkenstock, I am sad to see your online presence diminish somewhat (although your website was particularly convoluted and unfriendly), though I am sure The Natural Shoe Store will provide an adequate fix for my arthritic pins.

Adidas NMD R2 — a review

So, the 2nd version of the Adidas NMDs have been out for a while now, and given how annoying I found every aspect the NMD R1, I haven’t really been that bothered about them (my good opinion once lost is lost forever). However, that all changed when I saw this polka-dot pair on the &OtherStories website. That’s right, my good opinion can always by swayed by POLKA-DOTS:

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Adidas NMD R2: £130

I love polka-dots, and I like the contrast between the retro dotty fabric and the futuristic shape of the trainers. I am all about the contrast. What I also like about these is that they’re a bit different to the endless sea of white trainers that are ubiquitous in summer; the Reebok Club Cs seems to be the white trainer of choice at the moment, but they remind me so much of my high-school PE teachers, I get a Pavlovian ‘being-picked-last-for-the-team’ anxiety when I see people wearing them and an urge to protect my face from a stray wet netball.

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Reebok club C85: £64.95

I don’t really like the shape of these, and I think it is the association with PE lessons, and to be honest, if you want to go down the ‘not cool so that makes them cool’ hipster route, the best trainers are the Hi-Tec silver shadows, as issued to men and women of the British armed forces — purposefully chosen to be as functional as possible.

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Hi-Tec silver shadows: £24.95

But back to the NMD R2s. There are some small differences in the styling of the NMD R2 versus the NMD R1, which I think improve the look. First of all, the plastic lace tabs have been removed, giving a more streamlined look, which I think is a good change, especially as the laces didn’t actually tighten the shoe anyway:

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R2 laces (left) versus R1 laces (right)

But the most important change is that the tabs on the lateral side of the sole have been removed, which I found a little uncomfortable on the R1s, but they have left the tab on the medial side, which is great news for an overpronator like me who needs support on the inside of the ankle.

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New ‘medial only’ tab design

The R1s did very little for my overpronation, so I was really looking forwards to trying the R2s out, and to my surprise I really liked them!

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Box Fresh!

First of all, the knit fabric is much, MUCH, easier to stretch and so they were really easy to put on — no puffing and panting trying to squeeze it over my swollen joints like with the NMD R1, and there is no pressure across the joints:

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Looking good

As for the comfort factor, this is much improved in the NMD R2 compared with the NMD R1. The outer sole is smooth but grippy, and there is nice smooth cushioning inside.

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Underneath
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Inside

I would say the fit is true-to-size, verging on small, I am a UK6.5 (or I take a 7 if there is no half-size),  the EUR40 in this (which is normally classed as a UK7) is a UK6.5 and they fit perfectly. They are very roomy across the toes, so great if you have joint problems there. Like the R1s, you cannot alter the width of the shoes with the laces, so if you have very narrow feet, you may find them too wide.

So, how are they with the overpronation? The lack of supportive tabs on the lateral side works so much better for me than the R1s. They are not very rigid and so I don’t think you can describe them as preventing overpronation, and there is no support under the arch; however, they are supportive enough on the medial side to encourage proper joint placement, and the encouragement is often all I need, and indeed my leg positioning was better with these shoes.

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Medial support

So, in short, I was impressed with the NMD R2, I think the changes they have made have really improved the shoe and made it worth the price. They’re a nice-looking shoe, and something a bit different to the retro shape of trainer I normally wear. I feel like I could wear these for sport, or (more likely) for brunch with a skirt, so they’re hard-working too; the R2s get the shoeslifeblog seal of approval.

The kids are alright

I’ve been meaning to write a blogpost about children’s shoes for some time now. I’m certainly no expert on children’s physiology (other than they need room to grow) and there certainly is a dearth of sensible advice about what their feet need (it seems they either need lots of support or no support at all depending on what you read).

My arthritis, fortunately, is not genetic and my daughter doesn’t have the condition, and most cases of rheumatoid arthritis start in early adulthood (though there can be childhood onset). That said, when you have issues finding comfortable shoes for yourself, you tend to be more aware of buying the ‘right’ shoe for your children. So, when my daughter was young, I used to buy Bobux shoes for her, which are a New Zealand brand that make super-flexible shoes for babies and toddlers.

I have heard the arguments for ‘barefoot’ shoes, and they are very compelling; however, a problem with barefoot shoes is that the soles are very thin. If you’re in the UK, you’ll be acutely aware that it’s been winter for about 5 months now, and the thinner the sole, the closer contact your child’s feet have with the ground. This isn’t so good when the ground temperatures aren’t making double figures. What I liked about Bobux shoes was that although the soles were flexible, they weren’t so thin that you would worry about frostbite.

Now, Bobux have brought out a ‘big kid‘ range, which go up to a European size 33 (which is about a size 2), which they suggest is about an age 8 (maybe more if your child isn’t long froggy-footed like mine). The designs are also pretty cool, and the toddler shoes are often unisex (non-pink shoes for girls can be a nightmare to find on the high-street), and the shoes are good quality:

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Bobux spin fuchsia with cheetah: £49
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Bobux tune gold: £49

The sticking point is the price, they are expensive shoes and for something they will grow out of maybe they are too much money; that said, the run-of-the-mill school shoes from Clarks are £35–£45, so we already do fork out a lot of money for our kids’ shoe requirements.

My personal favourites are these animal trainers (this is just a narrow selection of the range), especially as the design is only on the inside. So, you could get away with them for school, but they are also useful for kids to be able to tell the left from the right:

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Bobux dragon hi-tops: £49
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Bobux unicorn fuchsia: £49
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Bobux panther black: £49

I wish they did the black panther shoes in adult sizes, it even has subtle black spots like a real panther. I’m a sucker for biological accuracy…