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.

Three is the magic number

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the minute you try to curb your trainer-buying habit, you will see loads of trainers you really like.

Having arthritis, and the preference to wear trainers with anything, I have a number of pairs now, and only one pair of feet, so I am trying not to buy any more until a pair actually falls apart, especially as summer is on the way, but I’ve seen three pairs that I really want and it’s difficult to resist. Hopefully, writing about them will have some sort of cathartic effect, and I won’t need to buy them (a sort of trainer exorcism if you will). So without further ado:

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Onitsuka Mexico 66: £69.99

I’ve been meaning to buy some Onitsuka Mexico trainers for ages. They are super-cool shoes, developed in 1966 for the Mexico 1968 Olympic games. They’re so retro and I love them. I especially love this yellow pair; yellow shoes are the thing for spring, and these are on my to-buy list after pay-day.

Unless I get this pair:

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Soludos trainers; £110

Soludos makes pretty cool espadrilles (does anyone love flamingos or peacocks? Me too!), but these are the first trainers I’ve seen, and I love them. Who doesn’t love a ‘hey’? It’s the start to many an epic online chat. If you’re in the US, you have an even better range to choose from, you lucky things. Day-of-the-dead French bulldogs? Yes please!

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Soludos espadrilles: $75

And finally, as you may be aware, I do love an embellished ‘Dior’esque trainer. They’re comfortable, fun and I love the contrast between sparkles that are usually seen on an evening high-heel on a sporty trainer. I recently spotted these, and I am rather smitten:

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Uterque Gem sneaker: £115

They have my name on them so it would be rude not to! They’re just so damn pretty, and having these would be a totally arthritis friendly way to rock a suit; if only my work demanded some smartness, I could justify them, but as it is I will just have to dream…

Spring Gazelles for the boys and girls

I’ve not been feeling very inspired in the shoe department as of late, I am not sure whether this is a mixture of the winter blues and world-wide political uncertainty leading to a desire for rose-tinted nostalgia or whether there really are no exciting shoe designs out there. Certainly there a lot of backless shoes, which are awful for people with foot problems — any shoes that require my foot to work to keep them on can get lost. There are also a lot of kitten heels, which I don’t really like… they just seem so apologetic and neither-here-nor-there.

So, I’m just going to stick with my nostalgia until there are somethings worth splashing my money on in the shops. I’ve talked about Adidas Gazelles before, I know they’re not for everyone being rather narrow, but I feel comfortable and supported in them. If you have big feet, or if you’re a man, these are my favourite Gazelles for spring:

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Adidas Gazelle: £50 (reduced from £80)

Wearing boys’ shoes was something I did a lot as a teenager as I often preferred the colours, so this is full-on nostalgia. If you are a girl, remember that you need to size one down for the same size (for no sensible reason that I can ascertain, a man’s size UK6 is the same as a woman’s UK7). UK size 6 can be found full price here.

While this might have more resonance with North American trainer-wearers, there is a collaboration between the Louisiana-based Sneaker Politics and Adidias Gazelle, producing the ‘Mardi Gras’. They’re a really pretty trainer, with subtle splashes of the Mardi Gras colours purple, green and gold.

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Adidas Gazelle PK x Sneaker Politics: £119

They’re a limited edition, and they came out in February in the US stores. The good news is that they will also be available world-wide tomorrow: March 4th 2017. The first drop sold out super quick, so if you like these, set your alarms.

If you don’t have big feet, the ladies department is more limited (although I am sure there will be different colours out soon), but I do like this pink pair, with the contrasting stripe in grey. Pink and grey are a really good colour combination, I think these ‘pop’ more than pink and white:

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Adidas Gazelle coral haze: £75

And if colour is not your thing, the unusual, geometric cut-out design on these is really beautiful. A pair of white trainers is always a classic, especially in the summer, and these will look beautiful with denim and a tan.

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Adidas Gazelle cut-out: £79.95

Anything but boring sneakers

As I said at the beginning of this month, I’m getting a bit fed up of my winter clothes. That said, I am not fully ready to embrace spring either. There are lots of colourful clothes in the shops, and spring florals, but wearing a bright jumper requires thought as not everything will go, whereas the pull to the safe navies and greys is strong when you just can’t be bothered as they go with anything effortlessly (I find the end of winter also coincides with a sharp spike in the ‘can’t be bothered’ feeling. I blame this depressing latitude.)

So, I find wearing some interesting shoes with your winter outfit can make all the difference. It’s just about getting warm enough to wear trainers and sneakers rather than boots. And I often wear wool insoles in my trainers anyway so sometimes I can get away with no socks.

I’ve talked about the much coveted, much not happening, Gucci loafers before, but I also love their sneakers; they’re iconic anyway, but I love the embroidery details:

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Gucci ace embroidered sneaker: £485
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Gucci ace studded sneaker: £430
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Gucci ace embroidered sneaker: £405

Flowers and pearls and pineapples, oh my! I reckon any of these could make me feel fully out of my winter rut. I can’t afford these, however, but fortunately the high street has some great versions, guaranteed to lift the mood without breaking the bank.

First up: floral trainers. I’m not a massive fan of floral patterns as I find it can look either a bit ditsy and cute (not a look I go for) or a bit like I am wearing curtains like the Von Trapps. It’s also a bit of a cliché…

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However, I can totally go for floral shoes! The Marks and Spencer sneakers have sold out, but are worth keeping an eye on in case they come back into stock:

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M&S floral trainer: £29.50
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Monsoon sandra sneakers: £49
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Ash dazed trainers: £165
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Anthropologie bahia trainers: £85

But my stand-out favourites are these lovely glittery shoes from & Other Stories; they are really fun (I love a glittery trainer), and I really like the colourful applique details:

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Other Stories glitter sneakers: £69

I also love these from Kurt Geiger (who always pay homage to some of the designer looks) these pearl embellished ones definitely have a nod to the Gucci trainer:

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Kurt Geiger lippy sneakers: £130

The backs are also fantastic:

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They are however not leather, which I think is outrageous for something of this price, but you may be OK with that. Kurt Geiger is definitely worth keeping an eye on in any case as although these aren’t out yet, I spotted these loitering on the website:

img_block_3-1Another nod to the Gucci sneakers here, and probably more to come so I will keep you updated…

[Edit: they are here, £120 and they are leather.]

What to wear to a gig in the middle of winter

One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was in reaction to having to wear the same biker boots over and over to gigs because they were the most comfortable and supportive for my arthritis, but they were also beginning to bore me rigid, and they’re hard to dance in. I decided then that I would be on a ceaseless mission to find acceptable alternatives to big clumpy boots so that arthritic girls like me might not feel so bored and limited, when our surroundings was making us feel inspired and limitless.

So, at the weekend I was back at Brixton Academy watching Cage the Elephant. They’re a great band to see live — they have so much energy, and it’s impossible not to want to move while watching them. Although there were far fewer stage dives and crowd surfs than I was expecting after seeing them previously, maybe Matt Shultz had hurt himself in a previous gig, but it didn’t really matter because they have such an energetic stage presence anyway. They were great.

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Cage the Elephant

 

Last time I was at Brixton, I had noticed that the floor was significantly more sloped than most venues (meaning you get a great view) but this is a bit of a gift to people with arthritis in their ankles as it means your shoes can be flatter, as the slope of the floor takes some of that ‘flatness-pressure’ off your feet. So, of course I wanted to wear my kick-ass converse-style hi-tops that I bought from Zara in the sale:

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They’re still available in sizes 2–4 for £12.99!

Unfortunately, the weather in the UK is below freezing at the moment, and keeping arthritic joints warm is REALLY important. I nearly cried these off in favour of a pair of big  ol’ clompy boots, but I figured I wouldn’t really be outside for that long (if Southern Rail didn’t cancel my train) and I wore my lambswool liners and my favourite catherine tough wool socks, and this combination was actually pretty good at keeping the cold out, and my joints were comfortable throughout the gig.

So, that was my feet sorted, but I really struggled with deciding what to wear on the rest of my body. I only have joint problems in my legs, but I really hate the rest of my body being cold too. Looking at the kids that were at the gig, it would seem that a bralette and pair of high-waisted jeans are all that’s needed when it’s –5°C, but being over 30 I have the wisdom of just not giving a **** any more, and I wore a merino vest with my high-waisted jeans.

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Icebreaker long-sleeve crew: £50

I swear by these wool vests for walking the dog when it’s really cold. They’re lightweight merino and the business for adding a warm layer without bulk.

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Wool to the power 3

Of course, I didn’t go out in just a merino vest, I wore a denim shirt over it, and a cashmere jumper over that (I think I must be the only person to have worn a cashmere jumper to Brixton Academy — I wasn’t feeling decadent, I had already wrecked it by washing it on the wrong cycle, a bit of beer flung on it wasn’t going to make it worse). I felt great: not too cold when I was outside, and not too hot when inside… merino wool has excellent thermoregulation qualities.

Then all that was needed was my leopard coat over the top and I was ready to go. Southern even ran all my trains on time!

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The great train gamble  — will I be stranded at a platform in sub-zero temperatures (again)? Who knows?

So there we are, if you know your music venue, it is possible to tailor your shoes to it and get away with shoes you wouldn’t normally think you could wear. I think the trick is to know your body’s triggers (for me it’s standing on with flat feet and the cold) and then to try to find ways to look after those aspects without having to give up how you want to look. I’ll hopefully test some more shoes out this year (Maxïmo Park are touring, so that definitely has to happen!)

Spring forward

I’m not very good at living in the moment. During the day, I’m often distracted by upcoming deadlines and things I need to prepare for (I also hate waiting for things); at night, my brain likes to entertain itself by replaying embarrassing things I’ve said/done in the past. However, I think it’s important to appreciate the time as it’s happening or you can miss out on so much, so at the moment I am trying to be mindful of how beautiful and crisp the winter sunsets are, how nice it feels to wrap up in soft layers, drink hot tea and knit beautiful things.

Even so, I can’t fight my urge to look forward to spring, and it was in this frame of mind that I stumbled on these shoes:

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Ash embroidered denim buckle trainers: £149

 

I don’t think these would be especially comfortable for arthritis, which is on my mind at the moment as I’m having a bit of a painful flare up… I think the snow has been hard work, but they are so pretty, I can’t help think fondly to warmer (and more importantly drier) days when it would be possible to wear them. I love the denim and studded buckle details too, it stops it getting too twee:

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I have a few white skirts and dresses for the summer, and these would be great with those if we were to have an early warm spell (fingers crossed, right?)

And with this spring feeling, I have also treated myself to this skirt from H&M:

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H&M pleated skirt: £24.99

I usually stay away from pink as I often wear red lipstick (MAC Ruby Woo is the best), but I love this bright bubblegum pink and how it works with the more monochrome elements of my wardrobe, and it wasn’t very expensive. Accordingly,  it’s not very well made: it’s unlined (and the fabric is pretty thin, I’ll have to cut the care label out as you can see it through the fabric), but for a little pop of colour, it’s not too bad. I just need to invest in some more nude-coloured knickers, and I’m planning on wearing it with long layers like in the photo, so there shouldn’t be any embarrassing skirt-related incidents for my brain to replay to me for years to come. Here’s looking forward to spring.

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Skint-mas

Christmas is coming, and my bank balance isn’t getting fat. This time of year is always expensive, and not just because of Christmas — I have a lot of family birthdays around now, but also people need to invest in winter clothes at this time of year. Maybe a new coat, maybe some more jumpers or warm boots. Winter things are thicker, larger, woollier, and as such I always find myself trying to be a little more frugal.

My old pair of brogues are wearing out, and I although I want to save up for a really lovely pair of Grenson shoes, I feel they may fall apart before that happens.

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LUST! Grenson Martha: £205

So, I wanted to set myself a pre-Christmas shoe challenge: could I find a decent pair of leather shoes that I could wear to work, non-sale (so other people could easily find their size), for under £50? Well, I think I have.

OK, so these guys are no Marthas, but the ASOS Mai leather brogues are an attractive shoe and a total steal at £35:

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ASOS Mai: £35

They also come in black, grey and my other favourite, tan:

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ASOS Mai: £35

Although these are more expensive, I am also very taken with these loafers, the burgundy is a lovely colour:

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ASOS Manning: £50

I also really like these loafers from M&S, they are almost verging on boring school-shoes, but the orange rim around the comfortable-looking sole saves them:

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M&S loafers: £45

I usually get my brogues from Clarks, but these year I have not been that impressed with the selection. I talked about these gold ones a few months ago, and I was expecting more brogues to come out so I could do a feature, but that just hasn’t happened… the gold ones get an honourable mention, as they definitely could be partied in, but the rest of them are just a bit boring. At £60, they would certainly make me think twice at this time of year:

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Clarks Hamble Oak gold: £60

So, I final shout out to some trainers, because I can’t help myself. I try to look at smart shoes, but get drawn by the dark, casual, not-giving-a-**** side. These are leopard, leather and really nice, and probably my favourite out of all of the shoes here:

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M&S leather lace-up trainers: £49.50

Hopefully, that can tide everyone over until pay-day!