North Face approach shoes bargain

Just a quick note to let you know that the North Face Hedgehog Fastpack approach shoes that I reviewed here are on sale in T.K. Maxx at a much more palatable price of £69.99. This will be an old colourway, but I think I prefer this to the current grey–blue option. Most sizes are available (and I would size up rather than down). They’re excellent shoes if you have narrow feet, and they’re waterproof, which is kind of useful at the moment!

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T.K.Maxx North Face Fastpack: £69.99 (was £110)
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Sale Watch

Shoes for arthritic girls is an expensive business; there are exceptions to this of course, but I think generally people with sore feet will have to spend more money on a good piece of design. This is where sales come in! I try to buy only the things I have lusted over at full price, although the odd bargain impulse buy can also happen too!

I’ve not been that bowled over by the sales this spring (Clarks has been particularly disappointing), but I found these brogue shoes in M&S, which have ‘Insolia Flex’ soles (they sound comfy). There aren’t that many sizes left, but they’re definitely a bargain. The putty is my favourite colour, lovely for summer and for weddings, but the tan is a wardrobe staple too, and could be worn well in to Autumn. They are reduced from £59 to a very reasonable £29.50.

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M&S Leather lace-up in putty: £29.50 (limited sizes)
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M&S Leather lace-up in tan: £29.50

Here I am trying on the putty colour:

Image from Gem Ryan
They were less taggy in real life

 

They’re quite wide (good for arthritis), but I would recommend going for the half size rather than sizing up if you’re between sizes, as the size 7 were too big for me. One thing to note is that the soles were not very grippy, so if you lack stability you may find these too slippery to be comfortable.

Goosey Goosey Gander, how shall I wander?

In the last post I mentioned that I had amazing shoes, which looked amazing yet felt great (i.e. perfect gig shoes… in fact, perfect anything shoes: the holy grail of anyone with foot/ankle issues) but were too expensive to get wrecked by going to a gig. And when my potato-ankle was really sore the day after the gig, these were the shoes I reached for, because they really do make my feet feel and look amazing.

Behold my favourite shoes: Golden Goose Deluxe Brand Slides.

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Glitter + hi-tops = best shoes ever

They are really incredibly supportive; I can walk all day in them and, well, just look at them! They’re glittery but not too in your face, the black suede tones it down a lot. They never fail to attract compliments: random people tell me they love my shoes. So why did I not wear them to the gig? Well, the price!

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Golden Goose Slide: £285

Now, it’s worth me saying that I did not pay full price for my pair, not anywhere near full price, but they were still not cheap, and there is no way I am wearing them to a gig to get wrecked. With these shoes you kind of get what you pay for; the reason why they feel so good is on the inside (as well as glitter on the outside). These on the insoles of the Golden Goose Slide compared to that of the Converse Chuck Taylor II:

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If you look at the shape of the footbed on The Golden Goose, the heel height is perfect and the arch is supported. The converse is much flatter, and you can feel the difference in your joints — overpronation is much less likely in the Golden Goose because of the support. In addition, the height of the hi-top of the Golden Goose is just right for not restricting my ankle. In short, they were money well spent on some excellent design. And, yes, I’ve tried putting the Golden Goose insole into my other shoes… it doesn’t work. I will write a post on insoles another time, but generally I have found that any insole that is supportive (such as that a podiatrist might have made for you, not a soft, cushioning insole that can be cut) won’t fit most shoes; unfortunately, firm insoles have to be made for the shoe in question, or at least will only fit in very wide, roomy shoes, such as approach shoes.

Golden Goose Brand also saved my life this week as I stupidly managed to injure my toe by fighting a rabid bear walking into a box (the toe wasn’t broken, but it was a close run thing and involved a lot of swelling and horrible bruising [Edit: it was in fact broken]). The only shoes I could wear all week were trainers, and typically (because the universe hates me) a friend was taking me to a very posh restaurant a few days after the injury, which had been planned for a good few months. I wore these Golden Goose Superstars and felt like one:

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Golden Golden Goose!

They are not as comfortable as the Slides (they are closer fitting and the leather is quite thick so make my feet sweaty), but I could wear these with a strapped-up toe injury (the only other shoes that could comfortably be worn were the Mango embellished trainers) with a skirt a bit like this one, and I didn’t feel like I was underdressed.

In short, these trainers cost a fortune. However, if you are restricted to trainers (or love them to the exclusion of all else) and really want to treat yourself, these are an excellent buy, as your money will be buying something you will get wear (and therefore value) from. Not all expensive shoes are worth the money, but I think these are. Still, full price is a big ask for me, so if you don’t mind wearing shoes from previous seasons, the outnet is a good source of cheaper designer gear, though you have to be quick. At the time of writing, these shoes are available in most sizes, reduced from £290 to £159.50.

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Golden Goose Francy from the Outnet: £159.50

They shift quickly, however, but if they have all sold out, keep an eye on the site as they get new stock (they have an app and instagram if that helps).

 

What to wear to a gig: the flatform experiment

So, last week I went to see Teleman, a band I’ve liked since their first album ‘Breakfast’ came out in 2014 (which had some good songs, such as the excellent 23 Floors Up and Skeleton Dance, but the rest of the album didn’t do that much for me).

They have a new album ‘Brilliant Sanity’ that’s just come out, and I am really enjoying it. I LOVE the darker Fall in Time and the wonderful synthy Düsseldorf (the video has the band turning the nerd levels up to 11):

After the Converse Chuck Taylor II last time, I wasn’t really sure what to wear to this gig. I did think about embracing the nerd-core vibe and wearing a pair of brogues, but then I remembered about the fact I have arthritis and stopped being silly. I have very comfortable shoes that don’t look great, but I don’t really want to walk round Camden in hiking shoes. I also have really supportive, great-looking shoes that are really expensive, and I’m not going to get them wrecked by someone chucking weak beer all over them.

A few days before the gig I was having this ‘what to wear quandary’ conversation with my friend and fellow gig attendee (and Converse aficionado) Naomi, when an email from Kurt Geiger popped into my inbox. It was then I remembered some rather excellent shoes I had seen in Kurt Geiger and joked that I should buy these flatforms:

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Kurt Geiger Lucky: £120

Now, I am about 170 cm, so not exactly short, but I always seem stuck behind the tall person during a gig, and these would sort that right out! In all seriousness, however, these are kind of cool. I love the bow on the top, it’s very Joshua Sanders but without the price-tag. However, really, I can’t walk in these shoes, my ankle lacks stability and a 5 cm sole really doesn’t help that at all, and my feet need to be able to flex, or the ankle has to do all the work. In any case, they’re far too expensive for me to wear to a gig. Also, if someone wearing these were standing in front of me at a gig, I’d want to push them off their literal pedestal. I respect my fellow music lovers and like to avoid getting punched as much as possible: Lucky shoes were ruled out.

I had a feeling I should properly checkout the flatform though; 5 cm is too much for me, but reasoned that a smaller flatform might give me a useful height boost at the gig, the question was whether it would be too much work for my ankle. A question that needed an answer! I set myself a £25 limit to spend, which ruled out leather and, as I don’t do plastic shoes, meant I was looking for textile. In the end I found these from Asos (glitter!):

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Asos Day Trip: £22

The shoes themselves are obnoxiously glittery, they’re definitely not a classy shoe, but they are a lot of fun. I can’t take the insole out to show you, but they are just completely flat on the inside. Despite the chunky sole, they are not too heavy (heaviness was a big concern with these) but they don’t have a lot of flex. During the gig, I had the usual complaints from the potato-ankle about wearing too-flat shoes, especially as I was having an arthritis flare up on the day. But to be honest, they weren’t too bad. The gig was really good, and the extra bit of height allowed me to take some good pictures:

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Top songs. The new album is worth checking out

It was on the way home, however, that I started to feel the ache; a few hours in and walking up and down steps on the underground, and the weight of them was beginning to take its toll:

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Achey legs on the northern line… I should write a song about it

But it wasn’t until I had to walk home from my train station that I really noticed my ankle was struggling. I live at the top of a steep hill — my station is at the bottom of it. The flatform sole is quite rigid and, to walk up the hill, my ankle had to work REALLY hard to compensate for the lack of flex in the foot region, so hard that I had to side-step some of the way, which only happens when my ankle is at its worst. The next morning, my ankle made sure I knew it was still unhappy, which, coupled with the incessant damp and cold of London this April, gave me a tough, sore day.

So, my verdict: if you are short and live right next to a gig venue, these are the shoes for you (maybe you could get away with them in you lived somewhere very flat) because they are pretty awesome, but otherwise, sadly, they are really hard work, especially if your arthritis is flaring up, which is a pity because I liked being really tall at a gig for once. Flatforms and arthritis just don’t mix.

The one-sided-shoe phenomenon

I was in Next the other day, not really looking for shoes, but having ended up in that section deciding to explore, when I noticed something strange about a pair of shoes I tried on.

Let me start by saying that I don’t really like Next shoes very much, I find them unusually uncomfortable and never very soft: they always look better than they feel. However, when you have arthritis, it can be a total faff to be continuously bothering assistants to try on more shoes because the last ten pairs weren’t quite right (as I have mentioned, I don’t really like bringing the arthritis up with shop assistants… I’m not sure why). Next has rows of shoes (especially flat shoes) hanging up in different sizes so you can conveniently try on as many pairs as you like without having to ask anyone else. I like this set-up, especially when the potato-ankle is feeling particularly irksome because that usually makes me quite grumpy too.

I was very much drawn to this pair because I love leopard:

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Mary Jane points: £26

I know leopard can have certain Bet Lynchesque connotations, but if you keep the rest of your outfit toned down, it’s a total game changer because it’s quite literally the best pattern ever, and in small quantities (like on your shoes) it can make your outfit come to life:

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Images from Pinterest

These shoes are super flat and I was expecting to immediately hate them; however, I instantly noticed that I wasn’t overpronating as much as I normally would in shoes this flat and unsupportive. There was no support to hold my ankle in place but, even when I walked around, my feet stayed more neutral than I expected.

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So, what is going on? Well, if you look at the shoes, you will see that the outside is totally open, whereas there is a closed part of the shoe on the inside. I think, by having the outside open and the inside closed, my feet want to fall into the gap on the outside, and on me this actually helps me to correct my position. I’m not sure whether there is any true support on the inside or just that my skin registers that there is something there, and it gives a stimulus that makes me subconsciously shift my weight away from it but, even if it is all in my head, it still kind of works. 

To test whether the shoes really were helping (I have a science background, I can’t help it), I tried these shoes, which have open sections on the inside and the outside of the shoe and didn’t find the same effect, so I think it’s having the one-sided shoes that helps to push the balance of my feet to the outside. (These other shoes were also really uncomfortable on the heels as there is no strap to keep them on).

The one-sided shoes also come in patent navy and suede-like cream colours, but they didn’t have the soft fabric over the toes and weren’t very comfortable. Leopard wins hands down. I am not saying the leopard shoes were like wearing running trainers or that I could wear these for hours and my joints wouldn’t be struggling, but every so often people need or want to wear smarter, strappier or just more elegant shoes than their regular ‘arthritis-friendly’ shoes, and having shoes that help my ankle to feel better even a little bit are worth buying over others that don’t, especially when they look pretty cool.

So either I’ve discovered something amazing regarding ankles and shoes (the Nobel Committee can get in touch by clicking on the profile button. I promise to spend the Nobel prize money on shoes furthering my research into shoes) or I might have completely lost the plot, but either way, at £26, these shoes aren’t too bad at all.

Colours of spring: lace-up shoes for unpredictable days

Over the Easter holidays, I made the decision to put all my winter boots away and fully embrace the wearing of non-winter shoes. The universe decided to punish this rash piece of decision making by sending storm Katie. Since then the weather seems to be lulling me into a false sense of security: beautiful sunshine but with bitter winds followed immediately by rain. It’s definitely spring.

Spring is a difficult time for dressing; I have metal-work in my leg and it doesn’t like being too cold. I’m sure that any arthritic joint doesn’t like being too cold, regardless of metal content, so at this time of year I tend to wear lace-up shoes, such as brogues and derbies, as they’re smart, you can wear them with trousers or skirts and, importantly, on colder days you can wear socks with them.

This is my one of my favourite pairs for spring:

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Potato-ankle (L) looking particularly swollen at the moment

They were from Clarks last year, and they are super comfortable with a squishy sole, and they are such a happy shade of spring yellow, they always make me feel good… even when storm Katie blew my fence down. I just love colourful shoes. I usually wear these with a denim dress, which seems to work with spring, and there are lots of different styles for everybody at the moment.

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1 Fatface: £45. 2 Warehouse: £49. 3 Boden: £55.65 (was £79.50). 4 Boden: £79.50. 5 M&S: 45.50. 6 Next: £28.

Sadly, yellow isn’t massive this year, so there is no equivalent in Clarks, but it is a good year for buying other colours, particularly metallic shoes, and after the gloom of winter, in which my whole wardrobe seems to consist solely of navy, grey and black, colourful shoes really makes me feel good. These from Clarks have an EVA sole, which I have found to be really cushioning:

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Clarks Hamble Myth: £48 (was £60)

I also really like the cut-out section on the side, it just makes them seem optimistic, like they’re expecting it to get warm any minute.

As the sun has come out, I have also started wearing my iced gem Rogue shoes! They are so beautiful, and I love wearing them.

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(I’m hitching my trousers up a bit so you can see the shoes)

Of the other Rogue shoes, the pear drop is a beautiful yellow colour, and I love the contrasting black and white facings:

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Rogue Pear Drop: £169

However, the sole is neolite (a hard rubber) rather than the EVA of my iced gem shoes. I don’t know what these feel like (though if Rogue shoes wanted to send me a pair to try I would be up for that) but it’s not going to be as comfortable as EVA, it just can’t, but there are always gel insoles. Of the other EVA-soled Rogue shoes, I love the colour of the Tutti Frutti, the pale blue is lovely, and I love the contrasting orange laces:

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Rogue Tutti Frutti: £169

Aldo is a Canadian shop that has been around for ages, launching in the UK in 2002, but it’s only recently been on my shoe radar despite there being a shop quite local to me (which probably reflects more on my powers of observation rather than the shop). Anyway, These Kerrobert shoes are quite interesting, I like the relatively plain and sensible uppers contrasting with the fun splash of yellow on the heel:

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Aldo Kerrobert: £60

These have rubber soles, which look nice and squashy, and I really like the flatform sole — a nice way to get a little bit of height when you are confined to flat shoes.

I also really like these gold shoes from Aldo:

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Aldo Casoni: £55

The cut-out sections and the black–gold contrast are really nice, and the rubber sole looks good. I like also that these are an Oxford-style shoe (that is, the facings are stitched under the main body rather than on top as in the Derby-style shoes above), which is unusual. That said, these are not leather and, for £55, I think that’s a bit expensive.

Asos is one of my favourite internet shops as they have good delivery options (free over £20), free returns and have a really good range that is updated regularly. I really love the colour of these blue brogues:

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Asos Moral brogues: £50

The soles don’t look the squishiest, but they don’t look uncomfortable either, and they would look amazing at work!

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Asos Matched Up: £45

I also love the colour and texture of these light blue shoes, the sides of the shoes are cut low, which looks really nice (and means there is nothing to press on swollen ankle joints). The soles look like they are EVA, although it doesn’t explicitly say this. My only worry with these are that the soles look very thick and may lack flexibility, but with free delivery and returns it’s not a huge deal to give them a go.

Some beautiful shoes that I have just discovered are from the online shoe shop Sarenza. I’ve not bought from them before, but I have heard good things about them (they’re also good at delivery and returns). I don’t know how these shoes feel, but they are really beautiful. They also have leather soles, which although more luxurious can be difficult for arthritis sufferers because they are harder than rubber, so less shock absorbing, and are slippery when wet! That said, there is something special about leather-soled shoes. They make a beautiful sound when you walk, so if you have a special occasion, it may be worth investing. These shoes have such beautiful colours:

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Georgia Rose Paralia: £113

And I love the cut out detail on these shoes, they’re so pretty I think they would be perfect for a wedding:

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Geogia Rose Parlie: £113

Finally, if you REALLY want to push the boat out, these brogues from Paul Smith are beautiful and a gorgeous soft mustard yellow colour: 

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Paul Smith Bertie brogues: £275

In my experience, Paul smith shoes are rather narrow, and the leather takes a while to soften (and at that price, there is no way I am going to have a go at pre-softening them with a hairdryer). Paul Smith shoes are really well made, however, and feel really nice to wear (like proper grown-up shoes), and of course the soles are leather. So, if you really want to treat yourself, a trip to Paul Smith might be worth a look (these shoes also come in a lovely coral colour). May be one to keep an eye on in the sales?

I am sure there are other brogues and lace-ups that I have missed, as lace-up shoes show no sign of going away. If any one wants to share a find that they they like, I love getting comments!