Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Blast From The Past Rediscovering Clarks Shoes And A Bonus Outfit Of The Day*

My name is Louise and I've been addicted to shoes for as long as I can remember. At one point in my life I owned more than 150 pairs, although I "probably" own way less than that now. I love shoes, you can never really have a fat day in shoes and they can change an outfit in moments. If you were to ask me where my shoe addiction comes from then I can most definitely tell you. There are two shoe related incidents that stand out from my childhood - one is sitting on the floor among racks of shoes at the Tommy Balls discount shoe factory in Blackburn and the other one is getting my feet measured in Clarks.



Founded in 1825 Clarks are probably the quintessentially British shoe brand. For many of us one of our first shoe experiences is putting our feet in to some weird gadget and getting our feet measured for our school shoes. That's traditionally what Clarks do best - they produce shoes that are comfortable, quality driven and practical. I have to be honest and say that as an adult I drifted away from Clarks as a brand, they were just too frumpy and too practical for my trendy teenage and young adult self. My mum still shopped in Clarks, as did my dad, gran and my godparents but not me.

Over the last few years though Clarks as a brand have tried to change their image a bit and appeal towards the younger generation Their shoes and accessories now feature regularly at London Fashion Week, and in the past they've collaborated with the likes of Liberty and Mary Portas to produce shoes which retain the traditional qualities and values of the brand but have a funkier, younger edge. Their latest collaboration which is released in a week or so is with the legendary print designer Orla Kiely. Although none of the shoes appear to be in a Kiely print they do have the retro feel that we've come to associate with her designs. I'm personally in love with the Orla Doty design, which you can see here.

Despite their seemingly slight change in direction though up until recently I still wouldn't class myself as a Clarks shopper, but a week or so ago I was given the opportunity to rediscover Clarks, and I was very kindly sent a voucher to use in store.


After several aborted attempts my and Mummy Lou finally made it to their Metro Centre store. The store to put it politely was heaving! It was full unsurprisingly enough of little people getting fitted for their first school shoes, ah the memories. Never the less the assistants were very polite and helpful despite being so busy. I'd had a little look online before I went into store so I had a bit of an idea what I wanted. Some of their block heels, ankle boots and flatforms were to die for but instead I went for something that's still relatively on trend and something that I'd wanted to try for a while - brogues.


Clarks have a huge selection in all different colours, and leather types but the one I'd set my heart on were the Hamble Oak Brogues in Dark Tan Leather. Unfortunately they were out of stock in my size, the shoes come in two width fittings and in all full sizes between 2 and 9 and in several half sizes. The lovely assistant though brought out the same shoes in a different colour in a 7.5 and in an 8, in the D (Standard) width fitting for me to try anyway.  The 8's were perfect so what she said they could do, is order them in the store for free home delivery in 3-5 days so that's what did. I paid for my shoes then and there (Friday)  and gave them my details and then I waited. To my surprise, despite the bank holiday they came first thing Tuesday morning and I have to say it was love at first sight.



They are in the basic, lace up brogue style and have a slightly block heel so they aren't completely flat.


As you would expect from Clarks you're getting a excellently qualify of shoe, they have the softest smoothest, leather uppers, and the tooling and detailing is perfection.


So what about fit? Well they are a true size 8 and the fit is perfect for me. The insole is lightly padded to give the shoes a more comfortable feel. The leather itself at the moment feels a little bit stiff around the tongue  but leather shoes only get better with age as the leather warms and softens. The colour is beautiful a rich, warm, dark tan that will compliment so many of my accessories and handbags, and they will give any outfit a real classic vintage look.


I was always a bit scared of trying Brogues because of my large feel. I always thought that they would make my feet look a little bit too big and masculine and whilst I do think they make my feel look a little bit bigger than normal the masculine aspect can be tempered by what you wear them with.



At the moment I'm just thinking how to style them, I've seen a lot of people wear them with frilly dresses etc. but I'm not sure that's really me. I'm fancying a sort of a smarter look with say an black skirt say, a white shirt and frilly socks peeping out the top - who knows? I love how something as simple as shoes can give you so many outfit options. I decided to do a little Outfit Of The Day (OOTD) for you, just to show you how I wore them today. The shoes, jeans and white vest give the look a more androgynous feel but the femininity comes roaring back with the floral jacket and bright necklace x I wore the shoes with bare feet here but you could easily wear them with socks for a different look.




What I Wore

Skinny Stonewash Blue Jeggings - H&M
White Vest - H&M +
Floral Kimono / Jacket - Atmosphere At Primark
Chunky Bright Bead Necklace  Dasiy and Eve At Evans 
Hamble Oak Dark Tan Leather Brogues - Clarks*

I quite like this look, throw a tan handbag over your shoulder and your good to go. I also think Mummy Lou deserves a bit of credit for her first attempt at fashion photography with an SLR ;) .I love new shoes and especially ones as practical and versatile as these, and these will definitely make my look at Clarks in a different light, and I'll definitely put Clarks back on the map when it comes to buying shoes. Yes you pay a little bit more than in some places, but the shoes, and materials are first class and they're made to last - exactly what you would expect from a company that's over 150 years old. The Clarks Hamble Oak Dark Tan Leather Brogues retail at £54.99 from Clarks stores, concessions and online .They also come in several other colours and finishes, that retail between £54.99 and £59.99.

 I can't wait to see what else I can wear them with so if you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment and let me know x

(*Press Sample)

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