Is there anything more delicious than a factory store dedicated to your favourite brand (and, of course, I must mention, a brand worn by the Duchess of Cambridge herself!)? I don’t think so! You might remember I visited the French Sole warehouse sale last October, and came away with five pairs of gorgeous shoes. So, when I heard that there was to be a permanent factory shop, I made plans to visit as soon as I possibly could. I was skeptical that it would be as cheap as the warehouse sale – because, why would it be, when it’s a permanent installation? – but it turned out to be even better than I hoped!
The French Sole warehouse shop might look unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s a bargain boutique that looks amazing, and is full of drop dead gorgeous shoes at rock bottom prices. You can purchase a pair of metallic silver or gold fold up flats for £10, and the bargain bins are full of sample shoes priced at £20 (but these are mostly 37s, I believe). The shoes on display are just £25 each, and boots cost £40! At the warehouse sale, flats were £20 and quilted flats were £40, so I think, on balance, the shop is cheaper by far. With these crazy prices, no wonder I came away with a couple of amazing pairs! Okay, maybe more than a couple… Maybe six…
I’ll be revealing my gorgeous purchases one by one over the following weeks – I’m calling them my ‘holiday collection’, because I came away with sequins, velvet, lush green, vibrant red, bows and jewels! Here’s a small sneak peek:
The French Sole factory store is open every Friday from 10am to 4.30pm at Lambs Farm Business Park, Basingstoke Road, Swallowfield, RG7 1PQ. They get fresh deliveries every week, and carry end of lines, discounted styles, press samples, factory samples, and catwalk shoes. They also carry London Sole shoes, which is the company’s name in the US, so don’t be put off if you pick up a London Sole pair – they’re the same shoes, same company, just a different name! The shop takes cash or card. And, there’s a very nice farm shop just up the road where you can have lunch if the fancy takes you – or if you want to make a day of it, pop into Reading city centre, which isn’t far at all!
Some small words of caution: you really need to visit this store in person to try these shoes on properly, unless you have a twin sister with the same sized feet as you – who somehow has such sisterly love for you that she’ll sacrifice up her bargains to pass along (I don’t think so… Am I right, girls? Ha!). I came away with shoes in sizes 39, 39.5, 40 and 40.5. French Sole shoe sizes vary from model to model, and with factory samples, you can never be 100% confident with your usual size until you put them on! I truly don’t think you’d save money trying to get someone to pick some up for you, as £25 is only a bargain if the shoes actually fit… Also, there are no exchanges, returns or refunds, as this is a factory store (this is very common policy for these kind of discount shops).
All of this information was correct at time of writing, but I can’t guarantee that the prices or opening hours will remain the same – if you have any doubts, contact email@example.com for help!
I accidentally did a bit of high/low fashion melding for this week’s Bag ‘n’ Shoes post, pairing a cheap as chips Primark foldover clutch with some gorgeous Jonathan Kelsey boots. These were part of Mulberry’s first foray into the shoe market in 2008, where they teamed up with Kelsey to create a capsule collection that included these rather beautiful cropped, polished, gunmetal booties.
(This was actually for my Medusa outfit for Halloween – which was pretty uninspiring, to be honest, but I did go all out on the accessories!)
I have to say, the more I look at these shoes, the more I love them. They’re not so high they’re impossible to walk in, and the colour is phenomenal, but they are a tad battered, poor things! In the end, I thought they went pretty well with the snakeskin clutch – I’m not a huge fan of snakeskin, so I wasn’t prepared to spend much at all on the bag. Primark to the rescue – this was just £6!
If you told me a year ago I’d be proudly modelling Ugg boots, I would have thought you were crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re super comfy and I’d love a pair, but they’re not exactly the prettiest of boots. However, earlier this year, I popped into the Ugg outlet store at Bicester Village, and came home with a beautiful pair of Illanas! And, what better bag to pair them with than my new Mulberry Bryn?
These shoes definitely kick started my love of ponyhair, once I’d realised they weren’t made of actual ponies, that is (derp).
The shoes are lined inside with a shearling type material, making them super fluffy and comfortable – although they are very high (and slightly perilous) and I’ve been banned from wearing them around certain people!
But hey, life’s too short to wear practical shoes every day. And you can quote me on that!
- Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Mulberry Bryn and glitter Aldo ballerinas (foodfashfit.com)
I thought I’d go back in time for this week’s bag ‘n’ shoes post – these are probably my oldest ‘fancy’ shoes and bag. In fact, I think the Juicy Couture bag was my first ‘designer’ bag, bought way back when at Net-A-Porter in the sale for a little over £100. At the time, I was young, free and single, and living at home, but that was still a huge chunk o’cash! Luckily, I still love the bag to bits – literally. There are missing embellishments everywhere, and owing to some storage issues, it was recently rediscovered smelling a tad musty – but I’ve been working on that! (Oh yeah, this isn’t one of those fancy ‘lifestyle’ blogs that paints over all the less than rosy aspects. I mean, look at those weeds on my patio!)
It’s fair to say I’ve grown out of JC since, but this bag will always have a place in my wardrobe. The jute and pink thread combo, plus the chocolate brown trim, just does it for me every time! I paired it with another blast from the past – one of the first pairs of shoes I ever bought in the Harrod’s sale – brown croc Kurt Geigers, which seriously need another clean and polish!
These were probably the first pair of flats I ever bought, because as a teenager, I just lived in trainers. I can’t believe how long these shoes have lasted, but, again, I still love them as much now – maybe more – as the day I bought them! That square toe, those laces! The curved trim! Ahh.
I guess this is a caution to make sure you always store your bags properly – and even if you think they’re safe, air them out every season. Trust me, it’s a lot of trouble to freshen them up again!
Wow, what a week so far! It was my birthday yesterday and I’ve barely had time to stop and think all week – the next time I’ll be free to take a breath is probably Monday – but I’m certainly not complaining! However, it does leave little time for blogging. That said, I definitely had to make time for my bag ‘n’ shoes of the week, so I could show off my beautiful birthday present from my husband (which I bought myself in the summer sale, cough, ahem) – a new shiny oak Mulberry Bryn! I’ll definitely be featuring this baby more in an upcoming post – but for now, here she is!
Because it was a special occasion, I had to break out the glitter shoes I bought last year for the Christmas period – they’re super comfy Aldo ballerina flats, and they’re a mix of silver with some light flecks of gold. And, you can just about see the lovely pearl bracelet my husband bought me as a wedding gift too. This was definitely a combo that brought back happy memories!
I’m not even going to pretend I’m not excited that summer is over and autumn is on the way! Autumn is easily my favourite time of the year and it always feels like coming home to me. Crisp country walks in the chilly air and bright sunshine, brand new winter coats, the first hints of red and brown leaves… There’s not a lot I don’t love about autumn!
Of course, I love the accessories that come with autumn and winter – hats, scarves, boots – more importantly… Wellington boots! Here are my picks for the most fashionable wellies on the market, for every budget, from Next to Burberry!
Ever since I saw the debut of Issa’s amazing collaboration with Banana Republic, I was intrigued by the Zebra striped kimono dress – even more so once I saw it in this picture – and with these beautiful shoes! Once it sold out, well… I was even more certain I wanted one!
Luckily, I’ve managed to bag myself one of these dresses (and not by paying scalpers on eBay – a lovely Facebook friend offered to post me a Tall version from the US), so now I just need to track down similar looking shoes. I really love the idea of slipper shoes, and this version with high heels just knocked me for six. I still haven’t found a simple pair of black velvet slipper shoes at a price I like, with the heel height I’m after, but in the meantime, I’ve found some interesting options online…
We all like a little luxury in our lives, and when you have an expensive leather product with an unusual finish that you want to keep fresh, it doesn’t matter whether it cost £10 or £1000 – you still want to treat it with care! So I thought I’d put together a guide for protecting and caring for patent and suede leather shoes and bags.
First of all, the most important thing is to check with the company you purchased the product from about what they recommend. Brands like Russell & Bromley, Mulberry and L.K. Bennett all recommend specific brands or treatment for their products. In some cases, failure to use the recommended product could result in your warranty being invalid, as these higher end retailers are all happy to take in items to repair after you’ve bought them, provided you have followed the care instructions carefully. You may not always be given this information at the point of purchase, but often they will have guidance on their websites – or you can contact their customer services for more information. I haven’t experienced this personally, but I have heard, for example, that Russell & Bromley will repair shoes, but only if you haven’t taken them to your own cobbler beforehand. Always check first!
Secondly, you should note that this is advice from my own personal experience, and I can’t be responsible for any damage that could occur from following it… As with everything on the internet, do your research first, and always make sure you have tested any products you are going to use in an inconspicuous area before you begin using them.
Suede is gorgeous. I love suede shoes and bags – but let’s face it, suede is not the most forgiving of fabrics. Before you take the plunge and purchase a suede product, just ask yourself whether you’re prepared to baby it. Suede can rub off, get wet and grow damaged as a result, and the nap is easily disrupted by simple knocks that happen during the course of everyday wear. If you’re prepared for that to happen, you’re ready to purchase suede!
Mulberry recommend just one product for suede, and that is Collonil Waterstop Spray. You can purchase it at any Mulberry store (and they’ll even give you a lovely bag, too!) for £10. You should treat your bag (or shoes) with this spray once every six months at a minimum. However, before you do so, you should use a suede brush or sponge to remove dirt and fluff to ensure that the suede is clean. I use this Woly sponge which is recommended by L.K. Bennett. I’ve cut it into halves as I have navy suede items, and black suede items, and as you can see, some of the colour does come off onto the sponge. It just takes a very light brush and your suede will look in great condition again.
To apply suede protective spray, follow the directions on the can, and spray lightly, in small bursts, and from a distance. Do not let the item get soaking wet, and ensure that you cover or wipe off any embellishments, bag furniture, detailing, or heel material that isn’t suede right afterwards. Allow to dry for 2-3 hours after application. When I’m spraying my shoes, I like to put rolled up newspaper inside them to prevent the spray from touching the leather inside, as it can get incredibly damp and hard to dry off.
Just remember that this doesn’t protect your bag or shoes from the elements. Avoid wearing suede in the rain at all costs!
A final point is to avoid completely coloured liquids that are sold for the care of suede shoes. Not only can they ruin the nap of the leather, but they may not match the colour of your shoes and can result in a patchy effect when used. And, I’ve found them harder and more time-consuming to apply as well.
Patent is often thought of as being more durable than other kinds of leather, but it still requires special care. Two issues with patent leather are blemishes or marks which can appear when it gets rubbed, and also cracking, which can occur if you don’t take care to polish and nourish the leather between uses.
To take care of patent leather bags and shoes, I use Woly patent liquid, which is recommended by L.K. Bennett for their patent products. I have also used this on my black patent Jaeger Kate bag as well. It’s a white creme which you polish into the shoe using a duster or some other soft material – be sure to use one that won’t scratch. The same liquid can be used to try to remove patent marks that appear, but they can be very very stubborn and require several attempts to remove. Never try to remove marks without first checking with the manufacturer what they recommend, as some tips online (such as using nail varnish remover) can damage your finish.
To apply patent creme, you simply pour a little liquid onto the shoe and polish it in until it disappears. This should keep the leather supple and very shiny! As with suede protector, always purchase a colourless liquid – not only is it better, but it also means you only need one bottle for all your patent (or suede) products!
Now, if only I could buy something to get rid of marks inside the shoes! Pro-tip – this is what happens when you remove your shoes wearing tights, and stand on the dusty ground, and then get back in your shoes again. Where possible, do not do this…
I can’t be the only girl who secretly wants to wear ballet skirts all the time, can I? There’s just something so beautiful and elegant about the soft layers of netting that will make anyone, even a heffalump like me who only barely knows what a pirouette is, feel like a prima ballerina! So I took the plunge and ordered a cheap skirt from eBay, figuring that even if it didn’t suit me, at least it wouldn’t break the bank in the process…
I have to say, I think it looks pretty good, even with my pear shape – the length is long enough to make it tolerable for winter, too!
I paired it with my new Brat & Suzie Loose Fit Nordic Stag T-Shirt from ASOS (here), which I love, because it’s very festive and comfortable. AND, it’s not another Christmas jumper, but it’s still very seasonal. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas jumpers. But, as we all know, most of the time, the heating on in people’s houses means it’s actually too hot for a lovely thick jumper, and then what are you supposed to do? My answer: rock a festive T-shirt!
Check out the adorable detailing, with the Rudolph-lookalike, and the Fair Isle style patterns. Love it! The colour is bang on trend, too.
I had to break out my latest favourite shoes, which I’ve been coveting for months now – these beautiful leopard print, pony skin* India flats from French Sole! (* Just so you know, pony skin is not actually made of ponies!)
If you had told me last year I’d be buying a pair of animal print shoes, I would have thought you were mad, but somehow the trend has really grown on me – I think it’s all the vintage fashion I’ve been looking at recently! And the red trim is amazing, too!
Of course, you know I love me some French Sole, right?! There’s just something about these shoes which are really Christmassy and festive – I guess it’s the implied warmth of the animal print, and the red trim which just screams FESTIVE TIMES ARE HERE!
This kind of look is the sort of thing I think would work really well for an informal, daytime Christmas party – it’s not too dressy, but it is playful and festive. And, you won’t be panting like a dog in your thick knit jumper when someone whacks the heating up!