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

 

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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…

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.

Viva espadrilla

Nothing says summer like the plaited jute sole of an espadrille shoe (mainly because they do not cope well with rain). There seems to be a lot of espadrille shoes around this summer, maybe shoe manufacturers know it’s going to be a hot one (we can hope). Unfortunately, these shoes, although pretty and flat, are not ideal for people with arthritis. The jute sole tends to be inflexible, which is fine if there is some cushioning there, but the sole also tends to be firm and not bouncy, giving little cushioning to the joints.

For this reason, I’ve shied away from espadrilles in the past, although I did succumb to this pair of Louboutin leopard espadrilles, which I wear for summer parties when I know there will be a lot of lounging with a cocktail and little walking about. They are beautiful and elevate any outfit, but they’re not particularly comfortable (does anyone find Louboutins comfortable? That’s a genuine question, so many people I talk to have sold theirs because they’re so uncomfortable):

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But recently, I read about the company Air and Grace, a company that strives to make beautiful but comfortable shoes. This quote is from the founder, Claire Burrows:

“Great shoes make us feel amazing. But in common with most women I know, I’ve found the shoes I love haven’t always loved me back. My wardrobe is full of beautiful shoes I hardly ever wear. Sound familiar?”

Yes! It sounds so familiar! (I shouted at my computer screen). So, Air and Grace make shoes with memory foam cushioning inside, and the first thing I wanted to try were their trainers, which all look fantastic, especially these leopard print:

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Air and Grace copeland: £149

and these:

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Air and Grace copeland: £149

However, as they aren’t the cheapest of trainers (but by no means ridiculously expensive) I had to wait until pay-day to get them, and as I waited, they brought out a range of espadrilles, which I immediately set my heart on:

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Air and Grace hula: £89
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Air and Grace hula: £89

Leopard print with neon tassels! It’s like someone looked inside my head and designed the shoe from what they saw. However, given that I already have leopard-print espadrilles, I went for the red. Red is summery, and exciting, and I love wearing red shoes.

When they came, I was super excited to try them on, and they are SO comfortable! They’re like walking on little pillows but they’re not too soft that they’re unsupportive. The leather is also really soft, and the area in the foot-box is well proportioned: there’s room so that it doesn’t squish my feet, but they’re not so roomy that I feel they’re going to fall off (I have narrow feet, and have this problem). The tassels are perfect too. They just make a plain shoe have that wow factor. I can’t recommend them enough.

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Hurry up summer!

I also noticed that Clarks have also produced espadrilles this season, in a lovely bright yellow (as well as a nice cream-coloured lace):

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Clarks clovelly sun: £40

The Clarks shoes also boast “Cushion Soft™ foam insoles”, and being substantially cheaper, I thought I should give them a go.

When they came, they do have a cushioned insole, most noticeably in a little pocket in the heel, it looked big but I couldn’t feel it when they were on:

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The Clarks soles (top) are rather thin in comparison to the Air and Grace espadrilles (bottom)

In terms of fit, the Clarks espadrilles are quite large, and a bit too wide for me. If you have wide feet, they may be a better choice (the leather was equally very soft), but you can see the difference in fit between the two here:

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The Clarks shoe is a bit too baggy, you can see the leather gaping

So for me, Air and Grace espadrilles win hands down and are worth the extra money (also, tassels); however, if you especially swollen joints of wide feet, the Clarks espadrilles may be a better choice.

In any case, I am looking forward to getting more Air and Grace shoes. They also do brogues, and I am really liking the silver. Hopefully they will bring out more colours soon:

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Air and Grave loveable: £139

Feeling peachy

In the late spring–early summer, I have a habit (a good habit I like to think) of wearing a denim dress with some yellow shoes. It’s a no-brainer of practical denim (which goes with everything) and an awesome pop of colour.

I recently bought a new denim dress from Whistles, which is a little short to be wearing in April, which has had a good dose of icy breeze, but I am really looking forward to wearing it as it looks fantastic, and I reckon it would suit most shapes as it can be brought in at the waist with the belt, and the shirt buttons don’t gape on the boobs:

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Whistles sylvia dress: £139

I know it’s not cheap, but it fits like a dream. I would also really like to buy these amazing jumpsuits, but I have a feeling the first one will make my arse look gargantuan and also unwrap over the boobs (I’ve learned my lesson about ‘wrap’ the hard way), and the second one screams summer and I think the frill is long enough to embrace rather than highlight the boobs (as I dissected here), I am imagining it with a straw basket bag and I love it… apart from the strapless bra I would have to wear and constantly faff over, and then I always sweat under the silicone strips they have — these are just not for me, but they would look great on someone else:

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Whistles denim wrap jumpsuit: £169
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Whistles nadia jump suit: £159

So given that I have a trusty pair of yellow shoes, I am sitting on my hands and trying very hard not to buy any more:

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Old yellers…

However, I have noticed a number of coral and peach shoes around at the moment, and these colours (which are just degrees of pinky orange) would also look great with denim for early summer. Importantly, I don’t have any peach shoes, so they are viable target!

So, my favourite are these Adidas gazelles. I love gazelles… blah, blah, blah. I know I never shut up about them, sorry, but they’re great, and I love this colour:

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Adidas gazelles: £90

But, trainers are not particularly summery, and I do want to look smart occasionally so here are the peachy shoes I have my summery eye on at the moment:

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1) Sezane livio sandals: €150.  2) Jigsaw tania: £98.  3) Mango pointed toe: £19.99. 4) OtherStories cross strap sandal : £45.

The livio sandals, from the French company Sézane, are really beautifully made. The soles are leather (my dream) and the tie allows you to adjust the shoe over any swollen joints. These would be perfect for any summer weddings; €150 translates to ~£125 at the moment, so they’re not as expensive as they look.

Just couple any of the above with this, frankly, awesome pineapple bag from Mango, and summer is sorted!

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Mango raffia bag: £35.99

What not to wear, but sod it, wear them anyway

It’s a rare moment in Shoeslifeblog towers that I sit back and think to myself, ‘well, I seem to have enough shoes at the moment, I do not wish to buy anything right now’. However, recently, that’s how I have been feeling, and I think the reason for this is that, although there are many beautiful shoes around at the moment, they’re not particularly good for dodgy feet. They mainly fall into these categories:

  • backless loafers
  • backless slides and mules
  • ballet pumps
  • strappy sandals that wrap round your ankle

The first two are everywhere, and in so many tempting designs, like these lobster shoes from Kurt Geiger. These would look great with a casual t-shirt and pair of jeans. Oh, how I have been tempted:

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KG otter loafers: £130

The problem with backless shoes is that in order to not kick them off when you walk, you have to arch your feet, and this movement will exacerbate any bone issues you may have in the foot. I do wear backless birkenstocks in the summer, but I’ve come to realise that there are better shoes out there for walking, but the moulded, rigid foot-bed on birkenstocks does a lot to keep your feet supported and prevent arching, so if they work for you, stick with them. Free People have this lovely metallic pair I’ve been eyeing up but there are much cheaper ones available on the birkenstock website and other outlets:

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Arizona Birkenstocks: £118

An alternative to the backless loafer is, of course, the non-backless, and I do like the lightening bolt and lobster design on these from Mango, but let’s be honest, they’re not as nice as the Kurt Geiger ones (though half the price, they look it):

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Mango loafers: £59.99

Also from Mango, I really like, but have no intention of buying because I know I will be kicking them off all over the pavement, these pompom slides:

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Mango pompom slides: £49.99

They won’t break the bank and really go with the boho–pompom trend that shows no sign of going away. Even if you don’t feel comfortable in a floaty dress made of fabric wisps and embroidery (my boobs can’t do this sort of dress, having a bra ruins the effect), your feet can get in on the boho act:

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Freepeople boho dress: £88. My boobs are laughing…

Ballet pumps are the next big no-no. People assume that, because they’re flat they must be good for people who can’t wear heels. However, if you can’t wear heels because your foot bones are not quite right, ballet shoes are not your friend because they’re so unsupportive. Any kind of pavement-pounding distance means your joints have to be really stable to avoid any over- or under-pronation. The soles are also very thin because of the lack of shock-absorption in the sole and so the cartilage in your joints has to take all the shock (and if you don’t have the cartilage, the bone is taking that shock). They do, however, look very simple and pretty, and they go with anything, so if you know you’re not doing a lot of moving about, or you’re on grass they’re not a terrible idea. Zara has some nice ballet pumps at the moment, I love the interchangeable ribbons (if you can find out how to try them on; this is a real bugbear I have with Zara. Am I supposed to sit on the floor? I can’t just stand on one leg, I will fall over):

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Zara leather ballet pumps: £29.99

And Asos always has a good selection. I like these Charlotte Olympia copies inspired ballet pumps:

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Asos Lexa ballet pumpsLexa ballet pumps: £25

The opposite problem to having backless shoes is having too much back. It’s not that I can’t have shoes that go around the ankle, but when it’s the only thing keeping the shoe on your feet it puts a lot of strain on the ankle joint. So, these beautiful Boden sandals, that are just so pretty it hurts, are off-limits to me (Boden shoes not being that comfortable to start with, they are narrow):

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Boden tassel sandal: £85

And likewise these Kurt Geiger shoes, that look like they have celebratory bunting:

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KG Raphy: £65

The most supportive shape is to have straps across the shoe too,  like on these beautifully simple Cara sandals:

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Apedi cara: £80

But the caveat is that the straps around the ankle can’t be too tight, in order to give some movement. This is harder with shoes like espadriles or laced ballet shoes, where the ribbon is supposed to criss-cross up the leg rather than pool around the ankle:

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Zara espadrilles: £45.99
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Mango velvet sandals: £19.99

It’s not that any of these shoes are off-limits or will damage your feet, you just have to be aware that you might not find them as comfortable as people without foot problems. I certainly have been disappointed by people raving about the comfort factor of a pair of shoes, only to find them lacking support and hurting my feet. I think you have to factor that in the price, because you’re not going to enjoy wearing them as much (though for the Mango velvet sandals, at £20 these are a bargain!).