Because it’s all about your shoes. Once you’re happy with your shoes, everything else will fall into place.
When you are buying new shoes in this Capsule Phase of your wardrobe rejuvenation, do not buy anything with a heel, or anything that you can’t put on in 3 seconds. I mean that, 3 seconds. It’s got to be one… two… three… out the naffing door.
Also, during this Capsule Phase, do not get anything mental. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE WHO I AM TALKING TO!!! Nothing turquoise, nothing animal print, nothing fucking neon or patent. This is not about trying to express your inner turmoil through your clothes, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO STUDIO 54 DO YOU UNDERSTAND? this is about looking chic.
Put out of your mind, if you can, fashion. This is not about fashion. Forget fashion. FUCK FASHION. You can do that later, later, later, when your core being is fulfilled and relaxed. When you have your capsule wardrobe and never have “nothing” to wear, then you can do fashion if you want.
This is also obviously a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe. Autumn/Winter I will deal with in September. YES! There will be more of this.
Let’s go. Are you with me? Are you with me – or against me?
Do not buy Stan Smiths or Nike Air Force1s unless you can devote a good portion of your life keeping them clean. The popularity of the ice-white trainer is a social phenomenon designed, like a long nails, big earrings or huge sleeves, to denote that the wearer does not do any drudgery of any sort. Also see: white jeans.
Unless you are really quite neurotic about keeping white trainers white you will buy these trainers and within a week they will be filthy and grey and you will feel sad.
There are plenty of other excellent trainer options around to choose from. &OtherStories has a good selection of smart, non-icewhite trainers. Also stay clear of anything with white laces, as these soak up grot and grub from the street fast.
If you promise, promise, promise you will look after a pair of white trainers, get Stan Smiths with Velcro straps as these are easier to keep clean and even then don’t wear them in the fucking rain. If you don’t like Stan Smiths but want a white trainer, make sure they are leather or some other wipe-clean material.
Or how about these Nike Internationalists:
These Gazelles: Gazelles, mind – NOT Superstars please.
Or these Nike Air Max 90s.
Or some variation thereon. But KEEP IT SIMPLE LADIES. That’s all I ask.
A comfortable espadrille with a sturdy rubber sole (not a flimsy thing with a rope sole that will fall apart in 6 weeks) is essential. You will be able to wear this from May until mid-October. I find the most useful colours are grey or pale pink. Don’t go too much for metallics or embellishments – or “to the beach” written on them only because
they are naff a plain pair will go with absolutely everything and there are times in your life when you don’t want half a ton of Swarovskis or little watermelons/flamingoes on your feet (eg. when you’re having a fight with a traffic warden).
I like these from Office:
I LOVE these from Seven Boot Lane… if you can afford the £80, I have a pair of these and they are beaut.
These from Selfridges:
These from ASOS:
There is also a vg new brand about to come on the scene called Drilles, but they’re not quite ready yet. If you don’t like any of the above, stay tuned to my Instagram @esthermcoren because I am waiting for these to happen.
Right I’m just going to go for this and say that you really really ought to get yourself a pair of clogs. They are just the most versatile and useful pair of shoes you will own. They will folksy-up a too-smart outfit, downplay another and smarten up something else. Whenever I’m staring at my shoe rack thinking “Shit.. which shoes?” I look at my clogs and go “Fuck! Thank god for my clogs!”
Personally I think Swedish Hasbeens are kind of a rip-off. Mine are Lotta from Stockholm and they are awesome. Just give them a try. You will be surprised how much you like them. I would get another pair if I wasn’t worried my husband would go “Why do you need another bloody pair of clogs???????
Do not buy a wacky colour! And get the low-heeled version, they are perfectly flattering. Get any of these below. If the ones you like the most are out of stock, just hit the “email me when back in stock” button and be patient, they will come back around.
A beautiful tan sandal will never, ever go out of fashion. Get the plainest tan sandal you can find and it will last you many years. Vraiment chic. Again, cool it on the glitter and two-tone stuff. That was all very 2015 and now looks dated.
Try these from ASOS:
These from John Lewis:
These from Office:
If money is no object, these from Ancient Greek *drools*: I have a pair of AGs with little lightening flashes down the side and they get more comfy every year. I recommend.
Okay? We’re done!!! See? That was easy. The only 4 pairs of shoes you need for Spring/Summer. I have left out flip/flops and Birkenstocks because I’m assuming you already have one or the other.
Esther this is amazing! I am in that ‘nothing to wear but too nervous/time-poor to buy anything’ trap. My children are getting a bit bigger now so it is really time to stop wearing the exact same shambolic outfit every day. Very excited for this series, thank you! X
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have no idea how much I need this. Or maybe you do? “Studio 54”?!! Xx
I had in my head that I ought to be heading off to studio 54 for about 18 months after I had Kitty… it’s just a phase…
This is excellent. I was missing some smart sandals. I have bought the Asos ones because they happened to be the ones I liked the most and also the cheapest, I love it when a plan comes together.
I got these and they a are lovely, really soft leather. I went up a size for width and didn’t get any flappiness. They’ve been classing my outfits right up already, and for only 16 earth pounds, thank you x
Does anyone have sandal suggestions for the poor unfortunates among us with feet wider than they are long? Hooves, if you will.
Same for espadrilles.
Birkenstocks are basically my only option…..
Laura ASOS have a brilliant wide fit filter option on all their shoes. There will be a gem on there x
I have the same problem – size 4 length-wise but a size 5 can pinch width-ways and a 6 makes me look like an actual Bozo.
I got some Tevas last year (recommended here, I mean, of course) and they have been perfect. Also it’s terribly boring but I have had success with Clarks and Hush Puppies in the past if you can find something you like, and, yes, from Asos, hence hopeful buy above (I’m trying various sizes; free returns)
I’m swerving the espadrilles for this reason, just wouldn’t work for me, but sandals are a bit more forgiving.
Thanks for that, hadn’t thought of Hush Puppies x
Try marisota.co.uk – they do an amazing range of wide fit shoes.
Nicola Underdown says
Opposite problem here – long, skinny feet make anything without a strap a flapping nightmare (see also ballet pumps, moccasins etc). Are espadrilles with straps a thing? Or do I have to sew in a big bit of stretchy elastic like my mum did to my shoes when I was a child?!
Nicola Toms espadrilles have an upper which comes quite far up the top of the foot and they are quite narrow. Otherwise Hampton Canvas plimsolls will sort you out xxx
Nicola Underdown says
Personalised advice for my ridiculous feet? You have made my day; well, that and spending a truckload of cash in H&M, JLP, Toast etc… Thank you for the suggestion, I shall investigate xx
Love the idea of clogs however the thought of wearing them makes me feel decidedly un-sexy… How do I get past this?
They are SUPER sexy… get a pair and send them back if you don’t like them x
I bought the clogs in ‘dark taupe oiled leather’ and LOVE them. THANK YOU. And the ASOS jeans are on their way. You’ve been very helpful, particularly to those who like me, have smallies and live nearly an hour and a half from anything resembling proper shopping.
Another idea… capsule make-up???
working on it! So glad all that worked out for you! xxx
Oh my god THANK YOU! I didn’t know how much I needed this post until I saw it. I can now put to bed those wretched Studio 54 delusions too (best description ever by the way – completely sums up the inner post-baby fashion turmoil!). Can’t wait for the next instalment! 👍❤️
Right, that’s shoes I didn’t need sorted. This is going to cost me a fortune, isn’t it?
in the short term, maybe – in the long term, no.
I love this post too because I LOVE shoes and particularly LOVE trainers. My very stylish mum always taught me (and I tell my teenagers) if you have good shoes and a good jacket you can wear any old other cheap crap (within reason obviously). Anyway I have loads of shoes and trainers but am pissed off now I dont have any clogs I love the ones above. I also would add to this list my black vans which are a bit sparkly. I live in them and I think they go with anything and any season. They are also good when your toe nails are not looking their best and they are comfortable even without socks. My favourite trainers are my white stan smiths but unfortunately they give me such bad blisters I cant wear them so they have been reluctantly donated to one of my daughters. Im still tragically upset about this.
Lesley Somerville says
I can’t help thinking of Kate Middleton when I see espadrilles. Is it just me? Probably
Maybe, but they suit everyone and you will make them your own.
Very tempted by the Lotta clog sandals in silver ! Can the silver ones be in a capsule wardrobe ? Or too out there for a 51 yr old ? X
Hmmm yes I feel quite strict about this – silver or sparkly shoes are only for when you have ticked all the boring capsule requirements…
Hmmm. I think you can get away with silver as a neutral as long as you are careful. I have some silver sandals which I bought last minute in the KG sale about 7 years ago which I just can’t throw out as they are perfect. However every time I put on my silver supergras I feel like I look like a middle age lady up from the provinces (as opposed to one from Islington) and take them off immediately. ‘Tis tricky…
it’s one of those weird things. silver super gas a total no for me too
Rosie B says
I jumped on the office espadrilles when you mentioned them in an earlier post. They are lovely (I have the grey ones), but come up really small, so go one size bigger! Can’t wait for the tops, I haven’t found a t shirt I like since 2010.
Liz B says
A quick question re trainers…to wear with socks or without? Or with trainer socks? If so do you recommend any? Also I don’t have Birkenstocks 🙈😫 I told you it was bad! What ones do you like? Thanks so much!! Xxx
I wear mine with those tiny flesh-coloured socket thingies. Mine were quite expensive, I think from Falke but worth it as they don’t slip off.
To saltwater sandal or not to saltwater sandal? In tan of course.
I am quite strongly anti-saltwater sandal. I don’t like how flappy they are. I prefer a Teva, but that’s just personal choice. I will be talking about this in another post!
Wait – we’re allowed personal choice?! x
mmmm… up to a point…
OMG Esther I am irrationally excited by this post and the other Capsule Wardrobe posts to come. 6 months preg with my first baby and I have been downcast by the fashion hinterland I have been exiled into by maternity wear (and trust me I am not even that exciting – maybe that’s my problem and if I were I’d be walking around in edgy bin bags draping insouciantly over my ballooning body). Anyway. All this is to say that I will be treating your capsule wardrobe advice like my bible in the (vain?) hope that I can still feel like “me” when the baby is born but without having to put loads of mental energy into it. Thank you!!
Stick with me Grace! I was still in my maternity wear about 6 months AFTER the baby was born but when you’re ready for a rejuvenation (and back to your fighting weight) come back here and tick all the items off your list!
I have those clogs and they are so comfy, unless you are prone to kicking your own ankle bone …
Ok. I NEED the clogs. Thank you Esther. I’m sure I should have been able to figure out my own shoes before now, what with l being a fully fledged grown up in charge of kids and all that, but apparently not.
But the low ones? Really? Are the high ones just too high for a panicked scuttle to the tube?
yes they are. the low ones are high enough to lengthen the leg – the high ones you just won’t wear.
I’m a cautionary tale: I have five pairs of high Lottas and I basically never wear them as they’re just too high for me. Don’t ask what I was thinking when I bought them! Think I’ll just get a pair of low ones as have been pondering it for long enough.
FIVE PAIRS!?!?!?!?!?! You are a proper inspiration
Just love this post and replies.. Am pondering the clog option but those Tevas sound tempting. I may have to investigate. Can I also suggest Ecco for cool non-white trainer type shoes? I have a black/tan pair with white sole and I bloody LOVE THEM. The new Veja white trainers I bought a month ago..still in their box. Whoops.
Tevas are good but only for certain occasions – very much casual family/holiday/beach activewear… I will cover them in a later post
How comfy are the clogs really though? How far can you walk in them?
I could walk around all day in them. Honestly they are comfortable, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend them… hand on heart. I mean, you couldn’t run a marathon in them, but otherwise great.
The Original Ginsta says
I have always worn Birkenstocks but have started, this year, to feel a little gauche in them. What’s the alternative? I had pondered saltwaters but thought they could be flappy, as you have verified. I over-pronate quite badly so need something fairly supportive. Have the clogs and agree with everything you say – they instantly make me feel a bit “edgier”. Couldn’t wear them on a daily basis though – too noisy!
Looking forward to tops. I spent far too long in hideous tunics and leggings after my first, because I thought that was what you did, until one day I woke up and thought “sod this”.
Clarks make absolutely excellent and very supportive sandals, which are also perfectly pleasant to look at! Birkies are fine with some outfits but yes just look awful with other things. It’s not you! x
I need help with trainers. I’m 5ft 4 with a pretty short and sturdy set of legs that a shot putter would be proud of.
I want to be able to wear trainers but feel like it makes me shorter and squatter. What do you wear them with to make them look right?
Or do i skip that bit?!
Well… we all have parts of ourselves that we dislike. There is not enough space on the internet to go into what’s wrong with me, for example. And mostly we have to just deal with the hand we’ve been, err, dealt. BUT, when it comes to trainers, I find that Nike Air Max (or any Nike with the air bubble) provides a vital amount of lift in the heel if one feels a bit squat of leg. As for what to wear them with, I will deal with that in Trousers and Skirts. Stay with me!
Have had high Lotta clogs (black braided) for years and loved them, but never thought of getting the low ones as more everyday shoes. Just purchased! Love these posts, thanks x
Amy you won’t regret it! They are really good. I feel very… hygge… when wearing them *shoots self in head*
I just bought Lotta clogs! Love love love them. I now have something to wear on my feet that are not 9 year old Clarks sandals or grubby Cons (Cons are *supposed* to be grubby. Otherwise you’re doing it wrong and are merely a Cons poseur, rather than a true Indie wearer). Thank you! XXX
Emily I had no idea there was such a Con hierarchy!
Liz B says
Just wanted to say that the comments section on this blog is so, so useful. I speculatively ordered some Teva sandals because of comments on here and I love them! I found a Toast parka ages ago thanks to this blog and I had been looking for something like it for about 2 years! My Ancient Greeks arrived too and they were scratched *shrieks* so they are going straight back but they fit which is vital intel for a narrow footed person like moi. I am going to come back round for them next year at the start of summer to get the most wear for my ££. My Tevas cannot dress up an outfit like AG but for the rest of this summer and daily life, along with espadrilles (and maybe clogs😆), they are the ticket!
Yes exactly, Tevas are absolutely amazing for really active stuff (they make an appearance in my ACTIVEWEAR post) but you can’t get away with them for anything smart!
Just ordered the Lotta dark taupe clogs, think they’re going to be amazing!!! Xxx
get excited x
Have loved this capsule series. Just checked back at this one to see what boots you recommend, and… none! Any chance of a winter update please that will give me capsule warm ankles? Thanks
Catherine Holliman says
This capsule series was really great – thanks for doing it! Keep referring back to it when I’m looking for new things.