Hannah Rochell, feet above, is the founder of the flat shoe blog EnBrogue.com and is Fashion Features Editor at InStyle magazine. Here, she talks Step Up through her self-enforced flat shoe regime and spills the beans on how to dress for the office without a pair of crippling heels. With news of the ridiculous ‘no flats on the red carpet’ dress code at Cannes, flat shoes are back in the press. For the record, I haven’t worn heels since early 2012; I’ve even written a book on the subject and my blog, EnBrogue.com is booming.
I work in the fashion industry where what you wear to work is pretty important. At the time that I started my self-enforced flats-only rule, I was definitely in the minority, in my brogues on the front row.
But let me tell you this: you do not have to wear heels to the office. Once you’ve got used to the freedom of being able to take the stairs, run for the train, not have a bag weighed down with spare comfy shoes, you won’t go back to wearing heels.
And there’s never been a better time to make this empowering decision, because flat shoes are Having A Moment. Designers have been showing them on the catwalk for the past few seasons, and for many brands, flat shoes actually generate more sales than heels. Which means that the selection is better because everyone from designers to high-street stores, are putting more effort into designing fashionable flats.
Even better, there are new niche labels like Jemima Vine and Rogues, who have women designers at the helm, to fill the exact gap of wearing flats to the office. To make the transition from work heels to work flats even easier, here are my top tips for finding the right shoes for the office.
What to wear with a pencil skirt: This is probably the trickiest bit to master, and if your office has a strict dress code, it is also the most important. I find the most flattering shape with a pencil skirt is a pointed-toed pump, where the vamp (that’s the top bit of the shoe) is cut low down towards your toe. The more foot you show, the longer your legs will look, and the pointed toe helps with that too. Avoid round-toed ballet pumps if you can; they’re just not as elegant.
How to wear brogues: If you don’t want to feel too masculine, it’s probably best to avoid wearing lace-ups with a full-on trouser suit. Instead, try a pair of slim fitting cropped trousers with a cashmere sweater or a silk blouse. The most important thing to remember is to try and show a bit of ankle, as this gives a more feminine line. Plus, if you’ve invested in some statement brogues like a pair from Grenson or Northern Cobbler, you won’t want your trousers to cover them up!
What to do in the summer: I find dressing smartly so much easier when it’s warm enough to wear sandals. Suddenly all of my summer dresses become an option, and in my opinion there’s no reason why you can’t wear a shirtdress and sandals to the office. It is probably best to avoid Birkenstocks and definitely leave the Havaianas for the beach, but sturdy leather styles with straps are office appropriate. Try Havva and Ancient Greek Sandals for gorgeous, incredibly comfortable and work-friendly sandals.
Hannah's book - En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels. - is published by Saltyard and is available for £10 from Waterstones and all good book stores.