'Oh I hate it when people ask me this because I honestly don’t know!' says Hannah Rochell AKA @EnBrogue, when I quiz her about how many pairs of shoes she actually owns. I'm standing in her dressing room come office, surrounded by every type of flat shoe going, from trainers to sandals, you name it the flat shoe blogger and fashion writer has got it. 'I have shoes from when I was 13 that I still wear, and others that I hardly ever wear because they’re for best that are in storage, plus some that are destined to go to my nieces who have had their eye on them for a while. I’ll stop making excuses…I reckon it’s about 150 pairs,' she laughs. With over ten years experience in the fashion industry, Hannah hasn't always worn flats. However, when her back began playing up and she also realised she wanted to be truer to her own personal 'tomboy' style she made a pact to stop wearing heels. Fast forward a couple of years later and her hugely succesful blog has led to Hannah penning two books on the subject, regularly appearing on TV and radio as a flat shoe ambassador, designing her own leopard print flat with Jemima Vine, not to mention her hugely popular Instagram where she posts daily #shoefies to her 11K plus followers.
Here Hannah talks through building an essential flat shoe collection plus her major do's and don'ts. Plus watch the video above where she explains how to wear loafers withour feeling frumpy.
What three pairs of flat shoes should everyone own?
First, a pair of white sneakers - anything a bit like a Stan Smith in style but I actually prefer leather unbranded ones (I highly recommend new brand Seven Feet Apart). Five years ago they might not have been as useful, but now it’s totally acceptable to wear them with tailored trousers to work or with a dress at a party. They’re just so useful, I couldn’t be without a pair.
Second, a pair of pointed or almond-toe flats, ideally T-bar Mary Janes. I find these are the most flattering to wear with skirts and dresses for posh events like weddings because they show a lot of the top of your foot, and that has an elongating effect on your legs. They don’t have to be black either - I have some leopard print ones that work with a surprisingly large amount of outfits.
Third, a pair of masculine shoes like brogues or loafers. Loafers are really popular at the moment and are a little easier to style than chunkier brogues. Plus there are loads of brands doing them in slimmer, more feminine lines which is great with bare ankles at this time of year. Not that I am obsessed with white shoes or anything, but I do love brogues and loafers in white!
What are your secrets to keeping white trainers white?
If they’re leather, you will need some decent cleaning products in your arsenal, although baby wipes are pretty good for minor amounts of dirt. I really like Grenson’s ‘William Green’s Cleaning Tonic’ - it brings white trainers and white soles up a treat. If you have canvas trainers, like Converse or Superga, you can just stick them in the washing machine and they’ll come out gleaming! Obviously don’t do this with leather or suede though.
We’re only taking a carry on for a week in the sun! What shoes should we prioritise packing?
Your most comfortable sandals - which are likely your Tevas or your Birkenstocks - and your prettiest pair of evening sandals. Job done.
We love loafers, but often feel a bit boyish in them. How can we keep them looking feminine without resorting to an obvious floral dress?
You could try picking a pair that are in a more girly finish, so a light summery colour works well, and there are some really fun floral and metallic designs around at the moment. Always show a flash of ankle if you’re wearing trousers, either by wearing cropped trousers or turning up your hems, as it’s more flattering. And if you’re not wearing a skirt or a dress, you add a top with a ruffle.
What should we have on our Autumn Winter hit list?
Loafers are going nowhere. We are too attached. Try Hudson for a Gucci vibe at a fraction of the price. Chunky boots were a big trend on the catwalk. Everything from biker to cowboy, so anything goes - whatever floats your boat! Party season is going to be great because sparkle and embellishment are big news. Miu Miu had the ultimate, but I have faith that the high street will have some cracking homages.
What are your three flat shoes do’s and don’ts?
Do wear boyish shoes with skirts - it doesn’t have to be frumpy
Don't carry a rubbish pair of emergency flats in your bag that you don’t even like. Just wear a decent pair of flats in the first place and leave the heels at home.
Do spend a little bit more on shoes that are well-made. Your feet will be happier, and they will last longer.