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.
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).
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):
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:
These are old sandals I bought in the sale from a shop called Northern Cobbler, who make really beautiful, quality shoes.
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:
But if you like the woven sandals, I think they’re called ‘fisherman sandals’, Churches have this beautiful silver pair:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Or these lovely blush-coloured trainers:
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:
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:
However, these from Clarks are a good, much cheaper, alternative:
So, there are lots on offer from Clarks for the spring and summer, and with 20% off, it’ a great incentive to think ahead.
I’m going to be very light in posts this January. Partly because I’m trying not to buy anything new so I am staying away from shops that could tempt me, and partly because dry-January, trying to eat better and doing some exercise is taking more effort (and time) than I would like to admit.
Shops that are too expensive for me are fair game, however, because I can’t get tempted anyway. Thus, I was perusing the Christian Louboutin website. I rarely find anything I like there as the heels are so much nicer than the flats, but occasionally they produce a belter. That’s where I saw these:
My initial reaction was that they were a bit like a mullet: business at the front, party at the back. But they have really grown on me as they’re pretty awesome and, were I to be getting married this year, these would definitely be on the ‘bride shoe’ list with its nod to traditional bride shoe, with the true me coming through at the back.
When I got married, I didn’t wear any shoes as I couldn’t find any that weren’t super ugly, and ruined my outfit, that didn’t aggravate my arthritis, which was much worse back then. I’m not saying that these shoes would have passed the arthritis test, they look narrow and not particularly supportive if you’re standing all day (and boy, do you stand all day when you get married), but if you want special shoes for your wedding, and many brides splash out on Louboutins for their wedding as it is a special day, these shoes are worth a look.
Last weekend I was invited to an Iranian wedding, which posed a new challenge to my usual ‘what to wear’ quandary, Normally, at weddings I err on the more quirky, dressed down side of apparel, which allows me to pair a dress with flat, smart, arthritis-friendly shoes such as brogues and not feel out of place. I would happily wear trousers to a wedding, if I could ever find a pair that fitted really well (as anyone with a big bottom and small waist knows). However, Iranian weddings are very glam affairs, black tie rather than morning suits, and I wanted to be able to rise to the occasion.
So problem one: I am not a very glam person, but I like a challenge. I also wanted to feel like myself and not like I was wearing someone else’s clothes. In addition, my hair doesn’t do glamorous shiny mane, it only knows how to do fine and flyaway. I’ve learnt to live with this and purposefully style it a little messy, so there was no point going for a super-smooth dress, it just wouldn’t look right on me. So, the challenge was to find a glamorous dress that still felt like I was wearing it, rather than the other way round.
So, first off, I decided to check my wardrobe for anything suitable, as I try to avoid buying new things just for the sake of it. As I said, I’m not a big dresser upper, and I don’t often go to black tie events. I have one ancient blue dress from Phase Eight, which is very nice and drapey (if a little dull and uninspired) that I have worn for every black tie event since I bought it:
It’s a flattering dress but I’ve worn it so many times, it bores me rigid. I needed to lift my game a little and get something a little more interesting; I decided to hit the virtual shops and found a number of really nice outfits that would work well with flat shoes:
I swooned over all of these; however they weren’t quite right. The Diane Von Furstenberg dress is a stunner, but way too expensive for me (even at the reduced price). The colours on the Mango dress are divine, but as I have discussed before those straps wouldn’t work on my big boobs (and I hate wearing a strapless bra, it’s just something else to worry about). The Finery dress is beautiful, and a shirt dress is an acceptable way to wear white at a wedding, but it wasn’t glamorous enough (and looked a little ungenerous in the boob area). And the Needle and Thread skirt is a good option for those, like me, who are long in the body and find the waists on most dresses sit high. However I have a shorter version of the tulle skirt and it’s not a flowing fabric, it really emphasizes my hips, and that wasn’t what I was going for. You may find these dresses perfect for you, however, so I’ve included my browsing finds as they’re all fantastic.
I begrudgingly decided that the best route for me to go was a typical ballgown, even if that was the predictable route. And I dragged myself to the shops to make sure I got the right fit. I ended up in Coast, which is a shop I tend to avoid when looking for wedding attire, because EVERYONE gets wedding outfits from Coast, and you wouldn’t want to wear the same dress as someone else at a wedding, photo evidence is mandatory! And then I found this dress:
This was perfect, and it fitted like a dream. The skirt is swishy and flows nicely over the hips, and I love the polka dots. They’re a bit retro and a bit unusual on a ball-gown type dress. It also lends itself to being blinged up with a bit of sparkly jewellery. I was sold.
Problem two: what to wear on my feet… this problem was easily solved for me as I knew I wanted something sparkly. I had bought these diamante cage shoes from Dune a few years ago, and they are really comfortable, despite being quite flat and unsupportive:
The reason I think they’re so good is because the zip at the back allows you to take them on and off really easily, and also, the sides of the straps are elasticated.
This gives the shoe a surprising amount of flex, so there’s no restriction of the foot’s movement. This is important when you have arthritis, as your joints are often moving in unusual ways. As I said, I bought these shoes a long time ago, but there are similar shoes in Dune, with a trendier higher heel, which is probably more comfortable, and the strap across the foot is elasticated on the inside.
In the end, I think I scrubbed up OK despite a bit of a rush to get there on time and an incident with some false-eyelash glue:
The wedding itself was held at the lovely Danesfield House, which has really beautiful formal gardens, and the shoes held up well for a little wander.
The back of the house looks out over the Thames in the rolling Berkshire countryside, which shone on the idyllic summer’s day:
And most importantly, the newly wedded couple seemed to be having a whale of a time. The bride was radiant, the groom was so happy. The food was excellent and the champagne flowed. It was idyllic, and I also learnt some excellent Farsi swearwords – a perfect wedding and nobody else wore my dress!
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:
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.
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:
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.
Of the other Rogue shoes, the pear drop is a beautiful yellow colour, and I love the contrasting black and white facings:
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:
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:
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:
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:
The soles don’t look the squishiest, but they don’t look uncomfortable either, and they would look amazing at work!
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:
And I love the cut out detail on these shoes, they’re so pretty I think they would be perfect for a wedding:
Finally, if you REALLY want to push the boat out, these brogues from Paul Smith are beautiful and a gorgeous soft mustard yellow colour:
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!
If there are words that strike fear into my very core it is ‘shoes for weddings’. Not that I am not overjoyed at sharing in my friends’ happiness, that is a given, but it’s the thought of what I am going to wear on my feet on a day that involves lots of standing and hopefully lots of dancing (just because I have arthritis doesn’t I mean I don’t love to dance, it just means I can’t do it as much as I want). I find it very difficult.
I have made a LOT of mistakes when it comes to choosing shoes for weddings, the most memorable was when my arthritis was at my worst and I was a bridesmaid for one of my best friends. I panic-bought a pair of, admittedly beautiful, silver ballet flats from LK Bennet. The leather was quite firm and in my mind going to be supportive, but in reality it was unforgiving, just rubbed my feet raw, offered no support, restricted my movement and my ankle was in agony. You think I would have learnt my lesson, and yet I just repeat the same mistakes flitting between a pair of super-ugly yet comfortable ballet shoes until they finally fell apart and buying shoes that I wear once, kick off when I hobble home and pass on to someone else at the first opportunity.
The only guideline I now give myself for purchasing shoes for a wedding or party is that they have to be soft leather or textile. I have an ankle with reduced mobility and, in order for me to walk around, my other joints have to flex more or in a different way to people without this problem. Thus I find shoes that are restrictive in the toe and foot region very difficult to wear, they will rub me and will generally make my ankle work harder, making my leg completely miserable by the end of the day. Pain in my bones is one thing, but when it is coupled with blisters I start to fall apart because, cumulatively, the pain adds up to be more than the sum of its parts. In the summer I can wear strappy sandals, which are less supportive, but also less likely to be restrictive, and I find that is better for me. But what about spring and autumn weddings? I can’t wear strappy shoes on cold days because having cold feet makes the pain worse. It’s like a horrible catch 22.
These shoes have all successfully been worn to a cooler-weather wedding. I can’t say my feet were in paradise or anything like that, but in terms of working with my outfit and not ruining my day, these were OK. Despite having quite a small area for the toes, they were soft enough (and for the blue ones, this involved stretching with newspaper and warming the leather with a hairdryer… I have learned that dealing with arthritis takes prep) to allow my feet the extra movement that they seem to require.
As you can see, I have usually gone for ballet shoes, and the total flatness is not a particularly comfortable thing to deal with (especially for the standing around that tends to come with weddings). So, I have been on a bit of a quest to find something fashionable that isn’t totally flat. Kitten heels are out (were they ever in? I mean it always seemed like a non-committal response to a high heel, and no one wants non-committal at a wedding), they are too tottery and unstable for my ankle; the surface-area of the heel is just not large enough.
But fashion may have dealt shoe-lovers with arthritis a good hand this year: the granny shoe!
I say may, as, first, I find this shoe is difficult to style without looking like my nana (she was awesome but not a glamour-nana). You have to pay attention to look ‘ironic’ by making sure you’re looking supercool in the clothing department (I’m not great at this as I tend to gravitate towards my natural inner-geek, but that’s why instagram exists, right?).
Second, the heel is maybe a smidge too high for me at 2 inches (and I am going through a ‘good period’ in terms of pain at the moment, there’s no way I could take this height if I were worse). But I’ll you know how it felt in the following shoes and you can decide whether to take the plunge and see whether they work for you.
I know it seems like I live in a Clarks shop, but there’s one right next to my station and I am very, very good at missing my train, and I can either wait for half an hour on a draughty platform or I can try on more shoes. I choose shoes.
Weirdly, I couldn’t find these particular ones on the Clarks website, or any website, so they may have been a limited run, but they also come in fuchsia or black, I found an ivory colour in Next (yeah, I don’t get it either) or if you like this aqua colour, you can get an unadorned version called the Chinaberry gem (!) from Sarenza. I also tried on the Chinaberry pop, but I didn’t like the strap across my foot, it seemed less elegant than without.
I hated to admit it, but the granny shoes looked pretty good on. The assistant even remarked on it (I know that’s their job, but it did seem genuine) and was surprised that I didn’t buy them (I didn’t tell her I had arthritis, I never seem able to get the words out). The problem was they just weren’t very comfortable. Because the leather was patent, it felt very hard on the toes and across the foot, despite the cushioning underneath. The heel itself felt OK; they were very stable, and if requiring stability is your main issue you should definitely give them a go. The height was surprisingly OK, it certainly felt higher than normal; it wasn’t instantly more painful, but I wasn’t sure how long I could deal with that height. To me the main thing putting me off was the restrictive nature of the shoes, and I was prepared to leave granny shoes on the ‘no’ pile. However, I figured just trying one shop was not good enough for it to be a proper review, and in any case my interest in these shoes was piqued.
It’s a bit of an effort for me to get to a decent Topshop (my local one is small and never has anything interesting in), but I have heard the Juno shoes praised so highly from various sources that I went to the absolute chaos of Topshop Oxford Street to try them out. You are welcome!
I’ll admit now have a bit of a thing for metallic shoes! I am a bit of a magpie, and I like to look down and see the shiny leather. Fortunately, it seems that metallic is in at the moment! The Juno shoes did come in other colours, but I went straight over to the gold and fell in love.
These were really lovely shoes, the leather was really soft and felt nice over my toes. I walked around in them a fair bit (again, I didn’t mention the arthritis so the assistant probably thought I was crazy), and they seemed OK. To be honest, as much as I liked them I just didn’t think I could last that long in them. They were just maybe half an inch too high and I think I would wear them and regret it.
I also tried on the Juliette shoe, which comes in silver, but found the leather to be harder and more restrictive. Also, the size was a bit weird. I am a 6.5–7, but the 7 was very big.
So, the jury is still kind of out on this one. I am not convinced enough to part with £50+ on the shoe gamble, but I would love to know how anybody else gets on with these. There are other options for weddings, however, so I will look further into this soon.