Bag ‘n’ Shoes: London Sole Leopard Love Heart Flats and Hobbs Lanesley Bag

Here’s the first reveal of shoes from the epic French Sole factory shop visit I had last week! As you may remember, I came back with a massive haul, so I’m pretty booked up with my plans for these posts for a month and a half! I also hinted that they were very festive in their design, but I have to say, these are probably the least festive of the batch, which is why I decided to wear them first…

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I almost didn’t buy these ones, but I couldn’t leave the shop without them in the end! These are from French/London Sole’s spring/summer 2012 collection, specifically, their Valentine’s range. I remember seeing them at the time and thinking they were really pretty. The material is patent olive green leather – which is another reason I busted them out this week – it’s been raining almost every day!

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One of my favourite pairs of French Sole shoes are my classic leopard ponyhair flats with red trim, so I had to get another leopard print pair – I would have loved to have had FS on the heart (or even my own initials!) but LS is good enough for me, especially when they were just £25! I paired the shoes with my trusty black Lanesley bag from Hobbs, which is a versatile satchel style bag with a Mulberry-esque postman’s lock, top handle, and cross body strap. It’s my nod to the now sold-out Polly Push Lock Mulberry satchel – which of course, I would love to own, but alas are now rare as hen’s teeth and considerably more expensive!

London Sole leopard heart flats

Ah, monograms! I’d love to have a pair of personalised, monogrammed smoking slippers from French Sole! I’m thinking MS G would look pretty cool! What do you think of monogrammed shoes, or items with logos on them? Dig them, or find them too flashy?

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Shopping Alert! French / London Sole Factory Shop Visit

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!

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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…

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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:

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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 info@frenchsole.com for help!

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Shopping the French Sole Sale: A Mini Tour of London

As I may have mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of French Sole, and when a pair of sandals I’d been lusting after for weeks came up in their sale – but not in my size! – there was nothing to be done except to get myself posthaste to my nearest FS store in order to bag a pair in person. The only issue with that is that my nearest FS store is in King’s Road, about an hour and half by car or between two to three hours on public transport. So, of course, this meant a day trip to London, and negates any savings  I may have actually made on buying the shoes full price. But that is just a minor detail, so there’s no need to bring that up.

Fullham Road montage

In order to get to the French Sole shop on King’s Road via the Tube, you face a pretty long walk from Sloane Street or a shorter one from Kensington, which then takes you along Fulham Road. This then takes you past an Amanda Wakeley store (Kate Middleton fans take note!) and a Butler & Wilson shop, which is a treasure trove of gorgeously over the top accessories. You then can then pass through any of the residential streets that connect Fulham Road to King’s Road, and soak in the beauty of Chelsea living – I am so jealous of some of these beautiful front doors!

King's Road Montage

King’s Road itself is a stomping ground for the Middleton sisters (and their glam mother, Carole, of course), and Bluebird has hosted many a cosy family lunch and is definitely worth visiting. Quite a few of the shops on King’s Road will be recognisable to a Kate Middleton fan (like an awesome L.K. Bennett clearance store!), but it was one shop in particular that I was honing in on!

French Sole montage

Inside French Sole’s Chelsea branch, the sales were in full swing and the sales assistants were run off their feet getting different sizes and styles for their customers – always with a smile, I have to add. Luckily, they had a pair of the beautiful sandals I was lusting after in my size, so after purchasing I immediately put them on in order to get some wear out of them before autumn well and truly took over!

After that it was time for me to run loose in London – I didn’t have a lot of time, but I was able to visit the Burberry store on Regent’s Street (more on that in another post!) as well as to pop into Fortnum & Mason!

Fortnum Montage

I adore honey (on toast, mixed with yogurt and fruit, eaten straight from the honeycomb… Love it!) so I was really excited to see the display celebrating London honey (this festival continues until 13 October). Plus, there were loads of gorgeous Halloween goodies – and the Christmas store was open on floor three as well.

Yup, it was a pretty good day…

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: grey tote and French Sole pink woven Henriettas

I recently purchased a pretty new pair of French Sole shoes in their secret sale, and I love them! (And, pst – they have another, bigger sale on RIGHT NOW!)

French Sole Henriettas

They’re actually pinker than I thought they’d be, and to my surprise, I’ve found that even so, they’re more versatile than I thought! They go with the grey trousers I’ve been living in over summer (from Next) and blue jeans, which is perfect for me.

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Bags are also easy to match with pink – my favourite, nameless, grey foldover tote from eBay goes perfectly – which is handy, because I’ve been using it a lot lately thanks to its voluminous nature. In fact, it came to the cinema with me last night and carried my slippers (yeah, I’m not in my 20s anymore…)

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Christmas party daytime look: Nordic print T-shirt and ballet skirt combo

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…

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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!

Ballerina skirt detail

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!

Stag Tee detail

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!)

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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!

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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!

Lust List: little black shoes to go with your little black dress

You know I loves me some French Sole. I also love the new studded slipper trend. Put the two together, and you get these beauties! Black Henriettas 2Black dome studded leather Henriettas from French Sole! Oh my… Let’s look a little closer at these beautiful little studs!

Black Henriettas 3Even though I love the bold, rock chick look of the pointed studs of the current trend, these domed studs are beautifully feminine, like little golden bubbles! Black Henriettas 1

There’s something really Christmassy about these sweet flats – and it would definitely make a great Christmas present for a lucky girl! Purchase these beauties at French Sole for £150.

French Sole Olympic Henriettas

Do you remember in my French Sole Warehouse post, when I mentioned those amazing Olympic Henriettas that I stalked for months? Well, here they are! Untitled

Aren’t they gorgeous?

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They have a beautifully decorated interior too – check out that amazing flag design! (London Sole is the company’s name in the US, in case you were confused!)

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I also love this red gosgrain ribbon detailing at the back. I love everything about my shoes – especially the fact that I got to actually wear them to the Olympics this summer! Here’s a photo for proof, in which it looks like I’m trying to kick everyone in the head, which is just an added bonus…

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Although this exact design is not available any more, you can buy Union Flag Henriettas with navy trim at French Sole’s website for £130. Sigh… Is it wrong to have two pairs of Union flag ballet flats?