A box-fresh pair of shoes bought in early September is the sartorial equivalent of a new pencil case. They are an optimistic statement imbued with good intentions.
And while coats are in stores and temperatures are still balmy, it feels premature to buy anything too autumn-ready. Let’s face it, we’re more likely to be basking in the good weather in a floaty dress than planning our midwinter look. But just think how that floating dress could be dramatically transformed with a new pair of shoes? And how smart to find a pair that would serve us just as well in coat weather.
There are many gems out there. The surprise is, many are from M&S. Their fall collection is here and the chunky loafers, minimalist mules and stomping boots (all under £100) could be mistaken for designer brands. That’s good news. Some high-street boots retail for £250 (the increased material and shipping costs will reflect in the price), and in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, it feels foolish to overspend.
Check them out in store before you buy, especially if you hate returns like I do. Although the selection in the store isn’t that great, you’ll realize at first glance that the cream cowboy boots aren’t quite the right shade, and the less said about the flatform brogues the better.
So what is your money worth? First, you should identify the trends that will stay – these include loafers, ballet flats and chunky boots. Second, consider the styles that you know you can wear with more than one outfit. This depends on your personal style and taste. Remember, if you shop well, your new shoes have the potential to be the most cost-effective item in your wardrobe.
Now here is my edit of the best in M&S.
Suede Pointed Toe Pumps, £65, MRS
This is a shape seen in Saint Laurent and Phoebe Philo’s “Old Celine” and not often copied from the high street. The purple suede is the funniest iteration, but they also come in black and tan leather. They add shine to cropped trousers and jeans.
Flat Chelsea boot
Flat Leather Chelsea Boot, £69, MRS
Bottega Veneta started the trend for cream Chelsea boots – they’re a fresh take on the chunky winter boot and this pair looks way more expensive than it is. Wear them to make your summer midi dresses fall-friendly and pair them with a cream bag, knitwear or blazer.
Chunky ankle striper
Snake Print Block Heel Leather Boots £79 MRS
I saw the designer version of these boots – from Danish brand Ganni – on countless feet at London Fashion Week last February, a sure sign they’ll be making an appearance this winter too. Wear them now with slim-fit jeans and midi dresses, and in winter with swinging skirts and a long wool coat. Perfect for work, walking the dog and everything in between, these garments are described everywhere as workhorses.
Animal Print Leather Lace Up Shoes, £49.50, MRS
I would avoid most M&S trainers (having seen them in store) but these could be confused with a pair of Golden Goose which sell from £300. The designers are artfully desperate, but that could be achieved the old-fashioned way. These could go with jeans and all skirt lengths but my favorite would be a casual suit.
Square toe leather mule £45 MRS
This minimalist style borrows from the aesthetics of Dutch label Wander and Berlin-based shoe brand Aeyde. It’s an elegant option that would look great for work with tailored trousers. Expect compliments.
Flatform loafers, £39.50, MRS
People love or hate loafers, but either way they’re inevitable right now – especially the chunky versions from Gucci, GH Bass and Tod’s. These, which also come in a roomy fit, look great for a fraction of the price. Wear yours with midi dresses or, like my colleague Sophie Tobin, with contrast socks and ankle-length trousers.