Happy Halloween shoe lovers

Halloween is pretty awesome, I love dressing up and eating sweets, and this year I decided to go all-out in the papier mache stakes and make my own Big Bad Wolf mask (I had a young nephew’s birthday party to terrify):

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Contour, contour, contour

Big Bad Wolves, as it is well known, are dapper things and require excellent shoes. Fortunately, my love of shoes meant I had choice enough at home without having to shell out for some new ones. In fact, the only thing I bought was my wolf tail, which is awesome and doubles up as a pillow for the ride home (there was a lot of wine for a children’s party).

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Tell Tails wolf tail: £20

And the shoes of choice were the Lucky Charm boots from Office, which I bought earlier in the year for winter (and I can recommend them if you are going trick or treating, they’re really comfortable!)

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Office Lucky Charm boots: £85

I hope everybody else has (or has had) a fun Halloween.

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I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly

I’ve just come back from a lovely holiday in Sicily, where I had a much-needed sunshiney beachy break. I didn’t expect it to be hot-hot, so I was surprised by the temperature getting up to 29°C in October — so lovely when the UK autumn gloom has set in; it feels like I am cheating the weather system (don’t worry, it got its own back when I tried to fly home and was grounded for two hours because of fog at Gatwick).

Sicily is lovely and vibrant, and I ate a LOT of scrummy food. Most importantly, I had a lovely chilled-out time on the beach: the sea was warm (by British standards),  really clear and you could easily see the little fish following you round the sandy beds.

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Paradise!

I don’t have that much to say about shoes that I wore, as I mainly went barefoot or wore my Clarks Tri Alexia, which are still looking good despite taking a beating this year as I wore them all summer. However, it was my daughter’s shoes I wanted to talk about. She had pretty much outgrown all of her summer shoes, and I didn’t want to fork out a lot of money for shoes that she would only wear at the beach so I bought her some jelly shoes, just like I had when I was a kid! Very pleasingly retro!

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I forgot to pack nail polish…

At £12 a pair you can’t really go wrong for beach wear, although my daughter insisted on wearing them all the time as she found them really comfortable — she’d have worn them to bed if I’d have let her. They also do adult sizes! Oh yes, grown ups don’t have to miss out on the fun! I’m not sure how comfortable I would be in these all day, or wandering around towns, but for the beach and pool, they’re fab as they’re really grippy, and definitely worth considering if you struggle on the wet.

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Sun Jellies sandals (various colours!): £12

They also do the charming retro bags, I used to have one like this when I was five, surely we all had this bag when we were five:

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Sun Jellies Alice bag: £10

I would definitely consider these shoes for myself if I were going somewhere with a rocky shore (I love to snorkel but find the slippery rocks a killer). They’re much better than flip-flops too. Holiday shoes are sorted from now on…

Velvet overground

OK, it’s happened, I’ve become obsessed with velvet again.

It had to happen really — it’s such a lovely fabric and perfect for winter, so as much as I resisted going back to my teenage years, you can’t fight the inevitable. Seeing as it’s not the 90s, I’ve avoided crushed velvet. It’s not that it doesn’t look nice, but it does look cheaper, and there’s not as much joy as you sweep your hands down the nap.

These were all on my ‘want list’ (which, by the way, is pretty much infinite at the moment):

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1) Boden trousers: £79.50. 2) Zara jacket: £89.99. 3) Mango jacket: £89.99. 4) Mango trousers: £49.99

but I managed to rein myself in (particularly on the jackets, which I love but I can’t really do military; having brothers in the actual military, one looks like a prat if you turn up in faux-epaulettes) and limited myself to this skirt:

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M&S skirt: £29.50

I know I have a million pleated skirts now, but this one is really lovely velvet and great quality for the price — well done M&S!

But, if I’m honest, this skirt has just fed the velvet beast. I want more! The velvet beast wants velvet shoes for its velvety feet. Luckily, I’ve not been that impressed with the array of velvety shoes offerings as they look a little cheap. But I saw these today and I really like them:

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Hudson velvet boots: £125

These don’t look cheap because they’re not cheap; I think that’s a bit too steep for textile boots. They are super cute though: I really like the shape and the colour. I haven’t seen them in the flesh, but you can see the sole on the website, and it looks matte and slip-resistant.

At the other end of the spectrum, the ‘looks so unclassy it goes round into classy again’ spectrum, are these shoes from office. I think it’s the colours…

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Office: peach point pump: £26

Every time I think I’ve picked my favourite colour, I change my mind. I don’t know whether this is a sub-conscious rebellion from the muted colours of my winter wardrobe but these are so fun! I don’t think I’ll be rushing for the train in these any time soon, but for any parties that are coming up, I think these, with thick black tights or cropped jeans, would fit the bill perfectly.

Insoles for plimsolls

As is well established on this blog, I am a huge fan of Converse. However, after developing arthritis, I also find them uncomfortable to wear. I’ve talked about the Chuck Taylor All Star II before, which are a step up in comfort from the original Chuck Taylors, but another option is the Chuck Taylor All Star Dainty.

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Chuck Taylor All Star Dainty: £45

The Dainty has a thinner sole than the original, giving a daintier look, and it means the soles are more flexible. This can be good when you have arthritis, as there are days when you don’t need support as much as unrestricted movement — I haven’t worked out what causes me to have days like this, but it may have something to do with my feet and legs being tired.

The soles of the Dainty are really flexible, and I like wearing them; however, the thin soles also mean that you don’t have a lot of insulation from the floor and, when it’s cold, my joints really feel it, making these shoes unwearable. The metal-work in my leg is the first to complain when the temperatures drop, and in these shoes it feels like the metal is in direct contact with the floor: very unpleasant.

But there is something you can do to prevent the cold getting to your joints, and this isn’t only for Converse shoes, but any shoes that aren’t great at keeping your feet warm, and that’s lambswool insoles.

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Secretly woolly feet — toasty

Lambswool insoles are usually bought for refreshing sheepskin boots (like Ugg boots), but I figured that this could be a great way to wear my Converse Dainty in colder temperatures (and by that, I mean anything below 16°C, such is my low tolerance, but you may well be made of sterner stuff). The insoles really make a difference and keeps my feet warm, and I have heard it said that wool stops you sweating and smelling (I’m not sure how true that is but my feet never feel too hot with them either, and I’ve just done a sniff test on the white ones, which I’ve been wearing all day, and they’re still fresh). In any case, it also means I don’t have to wear socks, and I appreciate a bit of freedom. I get my insoles from Amazon, and there are lots of stockists so I can’t remember which I’ve tried, but I’ve found that you get what you pay for.

The Dainty only comes in black and white, in both canvas and leather, so you don’t get any of the exciting colours that Converse do, but I think most people want the classics as well as the colourful options, so they’re worth checking out if you prefer a flexible sole.

Now I’m all f*cked up, and I can’t stand up…

…so I better suck it up like a tough guy would. [contains strong language]

Wild Beasts did not write this song about having arthritis, but sometimes the cap fits. I went to see them again at the Roundhouse last night, and although I would never usually see the same band twice in such a short span of time, they are one of my favourites, so when I heard they were touring after releasing Boy King I bought some tickets despite knowing I would see them at the Green Man festival, as they’re a good thing I can’t have too much of.

Importantly, I wanted to talk about sitting down at a music gig, and whether that was a fair way to see live music if the thought of standing in a crowd was too much. And I could only really compare the two if I had done both for the same band (though, admittedly, seeing a band headline a festival, a massive weekend-long music party, is not the same as heading down to the Roundhouse after a long, frustrating day of circular arguments with work’s under-funded and under-trained IT department).

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Wild Beasts at the Roundhouse, London

I’m not the only one who wants to sit down for live music, on the night I also saw a chap on crutches and another wearing an aircast boot. And it was actually a really great way to see the band without the faff of having to check my work tote into the cloakroom and worry about my shoes getting wrecked — I wore my glittery Golden Goose high tops and felt I was finally wearing footwear that was worthy of seeing my favourite bands.

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Golden Goose High tops and Converse low tops: both excellent choices

If I’m honest, sitting down at the back was nowhere near as involving as being on the front row at a festival. You do feel a little out of the party, but I think the Roundhouse is not the best venue for it because of the pillars that are between you and the stage. I was seated for Cage the Elephant at the Kentish Town O2 forum and felt much more involved; however, that might also be due to Cage the Elephant’s crowd surfing/diving/climbing/involving  antics.

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Still great from further away

It is, however, a good way to people-watch (Wild Beast fans love a Breton top it seems), and as I work late and need to eat at regular intervals, or I start getting grumpy and unreasonable, it’s not as though I would ever get to a gig after work in enough time to make it to the front anyway. The sound and lights were really good from higher up too. Some songs on the new album are really bassy, and the sound guys totally nailed it: the line between interfering with your heartbeat and making your head explode is biologically delicate and requires skill.

So in summary, of course, I would much rather be at the front, where I can take this sort of picture:

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Wild Beasts at the Green Man festival

But actually, I think most of the time, if I’m sore, then sitting down is much more enjoyable than having to fight the arthritis all night, especially if I have to work the next day. And of course, I really enjoyed the gig, they’re a great band (from the north of the UK like myself, so there is a high level of respect from me anyway) and they’re talented and interesting musicians — Tom Fleming’s voice alone is wonderful. So I’m going to close to a link to my favourite song, as they did last night: All the King’s Men.