Ancient Greek Big Buckle

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet on the blog as of late, to be honest I haven’t seen that much to inspire me in the shops for next season. Also, it’s not really spring yet, and nobody wants to read a post about me moaning about British weather and being bored of wearing boots all the time (note to self: I would love to read a blog where people moaned about the British weather).

I do like the latest offering from Ancient Greek Sandals, however. Their ‘big buckle’ style has been out for a while, but only in the slides (and you know how I feel about shoes with no backs). Now, there are more feet-friendly shoes available, and I’m rather taken with the Anesi:

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Ancient Greek Sandals Anesi: €145

They come in classic red, navy or white, and there’s something about that big buckle that looks pleasingly retro… a bit like the Scholl shoes my Nanna used to wear:

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I’m not a big fan of platform shoes either, because you ankles have to work harder to move your feet, but the Clio version are also very cute, and if you don’t have ankle trouble, these shoes would be a good way of getting a height boost, without losing any comfort, as the heel to sole height ratio looks perfect:

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Ancient Greek Sandals Clio: €180

They come in silver and white too, but this pink is just gorgeous: the colour block stripes on the sole are just right.

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Festival season: Bluedot 2017

It’s that time of year again, when a music lover’s mind turns to days devoted to listening to their favourite bands live in the sun, and when my arthritic bones start complaining about element exposure and long standing times in fields. Yes, it’s festival season, and if you have arthritis and love music in equal measure (I REALLY have arthritis) it’s a double-edged sword.

After enjoying Bluedot in 2016 I decided to do it again, as the fact I can combine a single day at the festival with staying at my mum’s house makes it a really attractive option. It’s nice to see my family and catch up with them, and the festival turns it into a little bit of a holiday, especially as it has a good range of science talks and kids’ activities.

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3,200 tonnes of science

So, as I always recommend, I checked the weather forecast religiously in the week before the festival, which suggested it would be 17°C, and as last year I remember being really cold when he sun went down (which is hell for arthritic bones) I packed a jumper, gloves and a hat. Of course the day before the festival, the meteorologists realised that the approaching cold-front wasn’t going to hit until the following day and instead would be 24°C and sunny. If I had had access to my wardrobe I would have worn a dress or a pair of shorts, but making an outfit from what I had, I went for a shirt and cropped jeans, and it worked pretty well:

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Jeans: whistles. Shirt: OtherStories. Trusty gig bag: Boden (all old, bag is bloody ancient). Scarf: Rockins

On my feet, I wore the Clarks Tri Angel, which are a great choice for a festival if you have arthritis and don’t feel the need to make a statement with your shoes. There was plenty of glitter at the festival, but generally people don’t do fancy dress for Bluedot: people realise it’s a field in Cheshire, not Coachella, and I only saw one flower crown. Comfortable, flexible and light, the Clarks Tri Angels really helped me last all day: I ended up walking over 7 miles at the festival, but my joints didn’t feel too bad at the end of it.

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My daughter’s infinitely cooler converse trainers and my Clarks angels

So, the festival itself, Bluedot is a good one for families or if you’re with people who like music but get bored just doing it all day. There were lots of interactive science displays from all over the country, interesting talks, comedy and activities for children. Maybe it was the weather, sunshine makes people chilled out and chatty, but I ended up chatting to lots of scientists over the course of the day, and I learned a lot. My favourite was discovering a robot I would actually like living in my house:

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Miro robot: cute AND clever, get a robot that can do both

I don’t want robots that do stuff apart from be petted and enjoy my company, because then they won’t want to kill me (I’ve seen sci-fi, I know what happens).

Musically, on the day I attended the festival was OK. Alt-J were the headliners on Sunday and played a good mix of old and new songs. They’re not the band to see live if you like a lot of interaction, but they always have great stage design — their lighting is always beautiful — which makes up for it:

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Alt-J

But aside from Alt-J, there weren’t that many musical highlights that grabbed me. Warpaint (who were given the penultimate slot) were so insipid that I wandered off to a tent where people were coding electronic music live, and you could see the coding and algorithms they were using (yes, it was super nerdy, but it was really interesting and it’s the sort of thing that allows more people to make music, which is no bad thing. I was inspired to have a go at coding music, and I don’t code):

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Drop some weather report in there

The early, lesser-known bands and performers had lots of energy and were better festival fodder, my daughter had a great time dancing to them:

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A particular highlight was the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, which did a set on stage, playing various sci-fi themes, and then joined the crowd later on in the day, getting everybody dancing with some traditional music:

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It was impossible not to dance to this

Another highlight from Bluedot is that although there was some corporate sponsorship, it was fairly low-key and not too much in your face (the worst offender being Blue-Moon beer), but generally it didn’t feel like you were in the middle of a massive advert like so many festivals. Also, the litter pickers were AMAZING, Bluedot not only had great recycling bins everywhere, the teams worked really hard to keep it spotless. You can see from the photos, it was pristine and that really made a difference to the atmosphere for me.

My one criticism of Bluedot this year was their decision not to allow re-entry on a day ticket. The best way of managing a small child at a festival, is to take the child to your mum’s when she’s had enough and go back for some grown-up festival experience. If you have a really family-friendly festival, they should be issuing wristbands because a) kids need to be able to leave if it gets too much and b) it’s great to be able to leave coats, picnics, changes of clothes and all the stuff kids seem to need rather than carry it round all day. I know some kids can get by with very little, can eat anything, will be chilled out all the time etc… I do not have one of those kids. In addition, if it’s hot, you don’t want to be carrying a coat, but it does get cold when the sun goes down, which can be hard on people with arthritis, so being able to go back to your car to get a coat and sweater, or maybe a pair of warm socks, is a massive bonus.

I hope Bluedot changes their stance on this next year, because it probably is a deal breaker for me, and it would be a shame to miss it because it’s a great festival.

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Stay classy Bluedot

 

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!).

 

 

20% off Clarks all weekend!

I received the email about the Clarks discount yesterday, but with the terrorist incident that unfolded in London on Wednesday, I didn’t feel much like blogging about shoes. To be honest, I still don’t, but life goes on and I intend to live it to the full, and that involves doing things I enjoy, such as blogging.

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So, there is 20% off adult shoes at Clarks until midnight on Monday (27th March) with the code BSPRING17. So of course my mind went straight to their Trigenic range, because they are so good for people with arthritis. The summer range is now out so it’s worth using the discount to stock up ready for summer.

One of my favourite styles is still the Tri Angel, which I have in grey, but for spring, I am seriously loving this pale yellow version:

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Tri Angel: £52 (with discount)

These shoes are perfect for a casual weekend. They are light and comfortable, and they look great with a pair of jeans.

I also loved the Tri Alexia shoes last year, which I wore pretty much constantly, including a trip to Venice, when I walked for miles and still looked good. The design also draws attention away from any swelling at the ankle or toe joints. I have the black, but this year I am very tempted by the nude colour:

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Tri Alexia: £48 (with discount)

I have a few tan-coloured sandals (and these also come in tan) but nothing camel coloured. It goes with everything (it’s especially good as a neutral against bright colours). I wear a lot of red in the summer, so these sandals may be perfect. I am very tempted!

Similar to the Alexia are the Tri Nora, which have a similar shape, but without the moccasin-style stitching, and with padded uppers:

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Tri Nora: £44 (with discount)

There are also some new designs in the Trigenic range. I really like these trainers, and if it weren’t for the fact I am trying to curb my trainer-buying habit at the moment, these would already be in my wardrobe:

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Tri Swirl: £48 (with discount)

I love the orange bands and the mesh fabric, they look a bit like Marni (a brand I really like, but can seldom afford). I am not sure how good these would be for something like running, as they are not adjustable, they slip on and off and have an inner sock, which I find comfortable, but you may have to try if you have wide or swollen feet as they only come in regular width.

If you needed more of an adjustable trainer, the Tri Soul have a classic upper design, which contrasts with the chunky sole:

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Tri Soul: £52 (with discount)

Or these lovely blush-coloured trainers:

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Tri Actor: £56 (with discount)

These are more fashions shoe than a high-impact sports shoes, I certainly don’t think anyone would be running marathons in these, but the Tri Souls are certainly supportive enough for long walks, and their lightness helps a lot.

And finally, although I don’t like straps that fit around my ankles because I find them restrictive (and they emphasise when my ankles are particularly swollen), but I realise that some people need the support there, in which case I do love the colour of these:

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Tri Alice: £52 (with discount)

I love the leopard (it adds an edge to an otherwise standard strappy sandal), and I really like how it’s teamed with the pink edging to really make it stand out. It just elevates it from something that could be quite dull into something quite cool, and these are very arthritis friendly with the adjustable strap over the foot… it’s not often you get such arthritis-friendly shoes in a cool, edgy pattern.

There are, of course, the non Trigenic shoes that are also on offer. I have a wedding to go to in June and as it’s one of my oldest friend, who is pretty original and quirky, I am planning to forego the usual bland ‘smart wedding attire’ for something a bit more ‘me’. I am currently planning on wearing brogue shoes (though that may change as the weather warms up). My ultimate fantasy shoe would be these from Grenson:

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Grenson Rose: £220

However, these from Clarks are a good, much cheaper, alternative:

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Clarks Alania Posey: £48 (with discount)

So, there are lots on offer from Clarks for the spring and summer, and with 20% off, it’ a great incentive to think ahead.

Rock and Rollie into spring

Last summer I wrote about the Australian brand of shoe Rollie Nation, the ethos of which is to make awesome shoes as light as possible. As people with arthritis, including myself, often have to go with a more substantial shoe to give their foot joints support, they can be affected by the weight of these damn chunky shoes, which puts strain on their leg joints, or just adds to tiredness, and dealing with chronic pain is tiring enough.

So, I was really interested in these shoes being available over here in th UK, and I wore my sunset huraches throughout the summer. I’ve been a bit disappointed that Schuh didn’t really stock the amazing and interesting designs that you can find on the Australian website, and it doesn’t look like they’re getting any new stock. Yes, you can have them shipped, but you will have to pay VAT and duty on them, and that can be a bit of a sting when you get your parcel.

So, I was very pleased to find this beautiful pair on the Anthropologie website:

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Rollie Nation cut-out Oxfords: £158

Now, Anthropologie is not known as a place you find a bargain, and these are quite expensive shoes, but if you’re after something a bit special to see you through summer, Rollie Nation make great shoes. These shoes are available on the Australian website for AUS$179.95 (which converts to ~£112 at the time of writing); of course Anthropologie marks up the price, but when you factor shipping, currency conversion charges and tax, I am not sure how much you would be saving. You can phone the HMRC customs and duty helpline to get a better idea if you want to go down this route, but my dealings with HMRC helplines makes me want to stick pins in my eyes.

In any case, one of my best friends is going to Australia for a year this summer, which may precipitate a holiday given I will have a number of friends over there (a lot depends on how I will cope with a 24 hour flight with a 6-year-old kid) so I may well be stocking up on Rollie Nation shoes then. Meanwhile, if I see any more available in the UK, I will keep you posted.