Boots that prove cheap can be chic
News, Review & Features
All this talk of Trump’s first in-office anniversary has reminded me of other hitherto unimaginable world events that have come to pass in recent months. I’m thinking mainly of The Daily Telegraph fashion team’s near universal volte face on cheap shoes.
Not just any old shoes – mainly decorative ones, since generally, these don’t take much pounding. Even this is a turnaround since the team has been, in all honesty, somewhat snooty in regards to its footwear. That’s because we had diligently listened to our mothers who brought us up to believe in the NHS and in “investing in good shoes”. If you’ve been wondering how on earth Gucci has managed to chalk up record sales in the past 18 months, look no further than beneath the desks in this newspaper’s office.
But this autumn, revolution has been afoot. It started when my colleague Charlie (our acting senior fashion news and features editor) took delivery of her first pair of Zara cocktail sandals back in August. At the time, none of us was precisely sure what a cocktail sandal was, but several deliveries later, we can narrow it down to something that looks madly and thus desirably inappropriate for winter. It will either be silky, satiny or velvety, probably involve jewels and almost certainly require huge amounts of toe upkeep.
Generally you’d think cut-price crystals and glue were not a reliable combination. But that was the old order of things. High street embellishment probably won’t be as robust as Gucci’s or Blahnik’s. So factor this into the outlay and examine carefully before buying (if there are already several pairs with missing adornments on the shelf, avoid).
Zara has excelled itself in the cocktail shoe department this season. Recently it has added closed-toe designs. Since many of them are flat or low-heeled, and because the weather has been unseasonably mild – thank
you, God – Charlie has been able to persuade herself and, to be fair, us, that they are “surprisingly practical”.
It’s true that once the realities of cooler weather dressing set in, the cocktail shoe is a relatively easy way to spruce up the jumper and trouser combination that many of us will be wearing from now until late May, and Zara is not the only player in town. Marks & Spencer, now the country’s second biggest supplier of shoes after Clarks, is having a bit of a shoe moment. One of its embellished offerings, uncannily similar (apart from the side seams) to Manolo Blahnik’s Hangisi, is online in six colours and both a 3.5in (90mm) and 2in (55mm) heel (£35). There’s also a very pretty velvet kitten heel slingback (£29.50). This one features Insolia, patented technology that redistributes foot pressure and really does make a huge difference to comfort.
Currently the consensus here on the fashion desk is that the cocktail shoe looks strange with tights – although we may have come around to the idea by next week. Meanwhile, we’re still in the tentative-experimentation phase as far as socks are concerned, but have high hopes that Falke’s Lurex ones (£14, luxury-legs.com) might do the trick. If you’re thinking £14 is an odd amount to pay for socks when the shoes may only cost £26, then you’re clearly still having problems adjusting to the aforementioned topsy turvy world of 2017.
Don’t worry, you’ll get there, because if el cheapo cocktail shoes don’t grab you, dressy ankle boots might. Excellent with trousers and midis, these make going barelegged in the evening – generally a more glamorous option than thick opaques – much more achievable. Zara’s chartreuse embroidered ones are particularly good. And then there are the on-trend kitten heels – from Dior-esque slingbacks to the Celine inspired high-fronted V-cuts that make everything you wear look just a bit more modern. The pointier the shoe, the more likely it is to wear away in the first two hours, but that’s equally true of luxury versions, and far less disappointing. Comfort varies, and not just from brand to brand. One woman’s torture is another woman’s all-day standby. It’s best to try on in store. Nancy Mitford would probably consider cheap shoes most non-u, but Nancy didn’t have Zara. She was also a snob – so last century.
The cocktail shoes Satin embellished sandals, £25.99 (zara.com) Velvet strappy flats, £90 (boden.co.uk) Embellished mules, £26 (bershka.com) The kitten heels Leather slingbacks, £59.99 (mango.com) Bow kitten heels, £29.50 (marksandspencer.com) Checked...