Friday, 21 March 2008

Your questions answered - Wearing flat brogues

This week I have a question from reader, Claudia regarding wearing flat brogues:

I am considering buying a pair of flat Oxfords/brogues. I appreciate that the ones currently in fashion with high heels, are probably more flattering, but as I walk a lot every day and I am quite tall, I generally prefer shoes without heels.

So my question is: do you think these go with skirts, or does that just look silly? And if they do, is it better to wear them with a short skirt, or would knee-length be fine? And finally would I look like a school girl if I wore them with socks? If so, should I not wear socks at all?

Any help would be greatly appreciated- as well as pictures if you can find any.

The first rule of dressing up is this: Wear what you want. As long as it feels comfortable to you then it's the right thing to wear. Most of what makes an outfit look good on a person is their attitude towards what they're wearing. If you feel good in what you're wearing then you'll look good. Now with the public service announcement over let's get down to the practicalities.

A little history: although the brogue is essentially a masculine shoe, women have been wearing them since the 1920s. In those days, they were considered to be sportswear and were worn with narrow or pleated skirts (below the knee or longer). By the end of the '20s they had a cute stacked heel. They've been in and out of fashion ever since.

The modern flat brogue (or Oxford) comes in several categories:

  • the classic chunky masculine one with about a half inch heel and a slightly pointed, round toe
  • the more feminine, but still chunky, round toe
  • the pointed toe or "winkle picker" - I would stay away from these if you have long feet
  • the jazz shoe, which is completely flat and has a flexible sole - you can pretty much wear these as you would ballet flats

You're a tall girl, which probably means that you have legs up to your armpits (lucky, lucky you) and you can get away with flat shoes of any description. Also because you have great legs, you can wear brogues with any length of skirt, although they'll look most flattering with a fitted skirt just above the knee, some opaque tights and a funky tee/top.

Truth is, if you have the legs for them, flat brogues are comfortable and versatile. You can wear them to give some edge to cute girlie dresses. And of course, for an all out tomboy look, channel Agyness Deyn with skinnies a cute top and blazer.
Deyn does it - Tomboy style and funking up a party dress (images via

On the question of socks and the schoolgirl effect, the trick to not looking like a schoolgirl in knee socks, is not to dress like one. So keep your look grown-up; ditch the blazer and scarf and accessorise with bold, solid jewellery (no colourful bangles halfway up your arm or candy coloured bobbles in your hair). For a funky look, consider layering coloured socks over contrasting tights. Wardrobe remixers show you how it's done, below:

Click on all images to enlarge

Good luck with the new shoes and send me a picture, I'd love to see them.

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I like pretty dresses, high heels, the colour red and good writing.