I just got back from my first outdoor summer event of the year, and my mules got stuck in the grass. What should I wear instead? Please don’t say sneakers.
If, like me, you’ve spent hours brushing mud off your beloved heels, you know that some planning is required for summer parties in the UK.
Short of packing wellies for every eventuality, I’d suggest looking for solid heels, blocks, wedges (with caution), and some flats, but they should look modern and fresh.
The first point of call is to know exactly what you are dealing with. What is the terrain? Will there be a field, a lawn, a one kilometer promenade, cobblestones, mountaineering? Let’s tackle the grassy areas first.
Country weddings, marquee events and garden parties will invariably involve some sort of lawn. Let’s assume the weather behaves and it’s not a Glastonbury mud pit.
For those of you who are married to flats, these timeless Jimmy Choos will get you in the party mood. They would look great with a 60s mini or fitted pantsuit.
And these delightful Tory Burch ankle tie slippers come in that perfect metal – they sit happily against any color and would look lovely with a long dress if you’re taller (£310, toryburch .com).
Slingbacks are ankle-flattering and useful if you want to show off some flesh but not all of your foot. I love the soft texture of these lovely stitches from Ralph Lauren (£305, ralphlauren.co.uk). This pink is almost neutral so it will go with a lot of colors. Wear them with slim or wide leg pants in cream, blue, brown or other shades of pink.
Forte Forte has that divine lilac style with ankle ties – the v-cut also elongates the leg and complements a wide foot.
By far, Stuart Weitzman and Giuseppe Zanotti also have great slingback options.
Chunky block heels can handle most surfaces. Aeyde has been my favorite for a while. They alone could equip you for the whole year. The padded straps of her cream Barbara mules (£275, aeyde.com) won’t start cutting your feet like cheese wire once evening rolls around and your feet start to swell. Nothing is more guaranteed to ruin a marriage than sore feet before the first song has even been played.
I have a confession. I also don’t like sneakers in any form. They bring back bad memories of Don Johnson and his miami vice shoe. I always feared he would slip up trying to apprehend a criminal. But they have their place. Go super high or super big. They make any outfit more casual, which is useful in more informal gatherings, like a beach wedding for example. Espadrilles pair well with midi and maxi dresses in cotton, linen, and more textured fabrics. Try See by Chloé’s platform wedge or its go-with-everything silver platform sibling.
Staud also made a brown leather iteration that goes particularly well with navy or white outfits and works for events and parties around town.
Cleats are useful for adding height and giving a relatively stable sole, but they are not safe on cobblestones (use flats) or for long walks. They look dated easily, so pick something punchy. I’m quite fond of a bit of leopard in the right frame and these Bellini Wedges from Russell & Bromley are pure magic. They go perfectly with white, cream, navy, black, brown, purple. . . you get the picture.
Porte et Paire’s sleek black mule is also quite stylish. Add it to dresses, skirts and any pants for a sophisticated look.
When in doubt, opt for a platform sandal. They add instant inches and are quite comfortable, all things considered. Russell & Bromley offers many options and colors.
Finally, some housekeeping. If there’s a chance of rain, don’t wear suede – they’re ruined if you get them soggy – or mules. The mules will kick up tons of water and you’ll feel like you’ve been riding a bike without a fender! Good luck there.
Anna Berkeley is a London-based personal stylist and style columnist for FT Weekend. She has worked in the fashion industry for over 25 years, previously as a buyer for Selfridges and Prada, and a consultant for Margaret Howell. Each month, she will answer questions from readers about fashion and what to wear.
Have a question for Anne? Email him at [email protected] or message him on Instagram at @annaberkeleystyle
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