One size doesn’t fit all: the challenge of finding women’s shoes that fit

The fashion industry is huge; of course, it is, It’s awash with all sorts of different garments for different women with different tastes and for different occasions. And yet, in the UK at least, it doesn’t seem the shoe industry follows the same principle – because if you’re a woman with so-called larger feet, you may find it difficult, more often than not, to find footwear that fits.

Fortunately, this isn’t something that afflicts the majority of women in Britain – precisely because most of them have average or smaller-than-average feet and so don’t constantly suffer from painful feet or even their toes hanging off the ends of their sandals in the warmer months. But what about that minority of women for whom it’s a continuous headache and – well – foot-ache? What can they do and, actually, why is it an issue for them?

Feet are changing; shoe sizes aren’t

Yes, believe it or not, it’s down to this fact why the issue has come about in the UK. Over the last 40 years, the average size of women’s – and, indeed, men’s – feet have increased; indeed, from a four to a six shoe-size for women. Yup, an increase of two full sizes since the 1970s. And perhaps because this a surprising fact that seems to have snuck up on us (and especially because most women don’t have ‘larger’ feet, even though the latter demographic’s feet are getting bigger just like all women’s), that’s why the footwear industry hasn’t really noticed it, let alone done anything much about it.

women-shoes

Of course, individual shoe retailers – such as us at Sherry’s – will endeavour to supply items that cover the range of sizes for all women shoes and, thus, try our best to make sure the options available include one that’ll fit all customers, but the wider shoe industry (not least the manufacturers) simply haven’t done their bit and kept pace with a growing trend for ever growing feet.

An affliction for all ages

And perhaps the most alarming result of the shoe industry’s failure to address this issue is the fact girls of school-age, whose feet are growing at a faster rate than the majority of their peers, simply aren’t finding shoes that’ll fit them. What’s the end-result of this? The fact they’re having to have their parents buy for them boys’ shoes to go to school in each day.

Now, you may ask that in these ever more enlightened days in which we live, when the idea of girls wearing strict girls’ clothes and boys wearing strict boys’ clothes to school seems to be coming under question (and is, occasionally at least, being challenged), is this such a bad thing in the long run? Well, in some ways, perhaps it’s not. And yet experts suggest that from a physical development standpoint it definitely is.

That’s because boys’ shoes simply aren’t designed and made for girls’ feet. So much so that, should a girl wear boys’ shoes for any length of time, it may even alter the physiology of her feet – and wider body. The thinking being that wearing these ‘wrong’ shoes will result in pain and so the girl’ll change her stance and the way she walks to some extent; to do both of which is unnatural and so could cause damage to joints and tendons, affecting ankles, hips, knees and the neck – and all that when the girl’s body is going through a great deal of growth and change.

So, will nothing change?

Well, happily enough, the signs are that ‘larger-footed’ women and girls are likely to be better served by the footwear industry in years to come simply because manufacturers and retailers in the main will catch up with the reality; they’ll see a proportion of their customers are unsatisfied, not being served as well as they might and so it’s inevitably hitting their own sales figures.

Furthermore, technology is changing how we all browse, choose and buy our clothes and footwear; we can even measure our feet via an app now. So, with that sort of digital innovation already out there (and, thus, just what more will follow?), the shoe companies will simply have to cater to women better in future – whatever the size of their feet!

Blending in or standing out? Tips on women’s office-wear

In the office-dominated business world, not only is it important how well you do your job and when you arrive at the office each morning, but also what you’re wearing when you arrive at the office each morning. As any office worker knows, workplace etiquette is very specific in each individual office and not immediately obvious, thus it’s far from always straightforward to navigate a new office culture. And wrapped up in that is usually the correct way to dress – especially for a woman.

Nowadays, it seems that acceptable office-wear for both sexes (but not least women) is relaxing more and more; it’s becoming ever more casual. But is it actually? Maybe, yes, but it’s always a subtle thing. It’s very easy to get women’s office-wear wrong. So how can you make sure you get it right and not make an office fashion faux pas…?

Casual versus conservative

First of all, it’s important to point out that it’s all too easy to go too far with the casualness that’s worked its way into women’s office-wear in recent years – perhaps in a welcome manner, you may conclude, but still. Compared to practically any other environment in your life, the office you work in is still probably going to be the most conservative; always bear that in mind when choosing your outfit the night before or at the start of the week.

That said, it’s also imperative you don’t go too dressy. Don’t go into work or to a meeting as you would for a glamorous night out; it shouldn’t be about being remembered for a see-through top or a pair of hot stilettos, upstaging the people you work alongside or (even worse) clients. It should be about being remembered for your abilities at your job. Like it or not then, it may well be better to dress more modestly if you’re unsure whether your first inclination is to go too dressy.

Dressing for success

So, in detail then, what should and shouldn’t you focus on to dress successfully in the office…?

  • Colours and patterns – like it or not, conservative colours and fabrics are still de rigeur in women’s business-wear, with navy, grey and black safe and sensible colours for jacket-and-trouser suits (or rather pantsuits); stepping outside of such neutral colours requires careful consideration because, remember, you want any statement you make to be about your competence, not your appreciation of frilly red blouses or polka dots (subtle patterns and plaids are good choices then)

 

  • Pantsuits – as touched on above, fashion-wise the golden rule is not to rock the boat in the office, so suits with tailored pants are fine, manufactured from high polyester, twill, corduroy or wool blend; of course, the fit ought to be flattering for your body, but be careful it’s not too flattering if you’ve a slim figure

 

  • Dresses and skirts – while the right shade and patterns are important here (see above), often what’s most important with legwear for the office is length; consider how much leg a dress or skirt you’ve in mind will reveal when you sit down (legs crossed or not) and then, if it strikes you it may be too much, you probably shouldn’t opt for that garment

sherrys-vintage-60s-dresses

That said, fashion need not go out the window entirely here, as there’s plenty out there that’s applicable; for instance, you may even be able to make work Sherry’s vintage ’60s dresses for the workplace.

 

  • Footwear – finally, shoes; this can be a tricky area as heels mat be fine, but the chunkier the better, as stilettos really aren’t going to be suitable and yet, yes, you may be able to make a stiletto-heeled boot work if your office has a relatively relaxed dress-code.

 

Generally speaking, though, in many workplaces, open-toe shoes aren’t advisable (even in the warm summer months), but again it depends on how casual it is where you work. Colour-wise, your footwear can co-ordinate with the shades of your overall outfit, sure, but it’s always a nice touch to match shoe-colour with those of your bag and other accessories.

Suiting up: what to consider when you choose a suit

Thinking of buying a new men’s suit? Well, there’s a number of things to think about first…

Single- or double-breasted?

Perhaps the most obvious thing to decide is the cut of your suit’s jacket; yes, single- or double-breasted? Lovers of mod fashion will pretty much always, of course, tag to the single-breasted option. Yet, to pull off the mod-friendly slim (tailored to the waist) or skinny (even more tailored) cuts means you’ll need the right figure – and, dare one say it, perhaps a certain cut and dash… yes, a je ne sais quois.

If flair’s your thing, though, you can be assured of it by wearing a double-breasted option that suits you. Sure, you may not be sure about that (an old man’s suit?), but preconceptions can be just that – you never know how you’ll actually look in one unless you try it on. For instance, a bit like trying on a mod-like men’s striped boating blazer – who knows, one of them may be for you!

Off-the-peg or made-to-measure?

Ultimately, the biggest differentiator when it comes to choosing and buying a suit is price. And, essentially, this means selecting between two types – a made-to-measure one or a cheaper off-the-peg alternative. Generally speaking, the fabrics and tailoring that goes into made-to-measure suits is extremely high; they’re often hand-stitched for a personalised fit. That said, you shouldn’t go away with the idea that a suit bought from a high-street store or from a reputable online retail store isn’t made without due care or made mediocre materials. Because that couldn’t be further from the truth; after all, if such retailers didn’t sell quality garments, they’d go out of business fast.

lining

What about Lining?

Tied to the price issue – and the ready-to-wear versus tailored suit question – is the matter of the jacket’s lining. You may be surprised, but in fact, it’s the more expensive kind of jacket that’s less likely to feature lining and the off-the-peg-version that’ll almost definitely feature it. And that’s because lining is, of course, what keeps the jacket’s shape and, essentially, holds its innards together. Thus, it takes more time, skill and is more difficult to successfully make a jacket that isn’t fully lined (or, rather, half-lined) or not lined at all over one that is. Frankly, making a jacket for a suit without lining is a task that any tailor worth their salt ought to savour – and, no question, a tailored jacket of that ilk looks mighty fine impressive when you wear it.

Going the bespoke route

There’s also another aspect to selecting the right suit for yourself – that is, whether you simply want the suit as a garment alone or whether you want it with an experience attached. What on earth’s the latter? Well, it’s all about tradition – the notion that, back in the day, when it came to dressing for success it required having garments that were always tailored, which meant being measured and sharing with your tailor exactly what you wanted, after taking due consideration on that score beforehand, then waiting for it to be created and taking ownership of it once it had been meticulously manufactured for you and you alone and according to your specification.

In short, you developed an emotional connection with and went on an emotional journey in order to buy a suit; you gained an experience via your new suit, thus enriching the ownership and wearing of it. It also, of course, meant you developed a relationship with the tailor – one that’d likely to last beyond just one suit (if you liked the result first time round, why wouldn’t you come back for more?).

And yet, things may have come full circle nowadays, thanks to the emergence of online suit retailers. Like going to a tailor for your garment, buying it online is also an adventure; it requires ordering, trusting in the retailer, waiting for the suit to arrive before trying it on for the first time and – should you be pleased with the result – a likely relationship developing between you and the retailer that sees you come back for more. So, there’s much to consider when choosing a suit – and, yes, reassuringly much of it remains as traditional as ever.

The smart-casual conundrum: what actually is smart-casual fashion?

Once upon a time, the term smart-casual emerged and was used to find some sort of middle way between dress codes (‘smart’ and ‘casual’, simply enough), but nowadays it seems to have established itself as a separate dress code on its own. Now, that would be fine, but when it comes to defining what it means in terms of individual garments you might wear, nobody’s any the wiser than they’ve ever been. Which begs the question – what actually is smart-casual?

Well, we could turn to a dictionary for a definition. Indeed, the esteemed Oxford Dictionary intones that smart-casual is ‘neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code’. Again, though, as it’s become a dress code itself, that doesn’t help much. More specific perhaps are the thoughts of the advice page on style guru site Mr Porter, which suggests smart-casual is ‘pretty much anything smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit’. Nice and snappy, but anything more? ‘An ideal answer is a blazer, white shirt, neat jeans and brown loafers’. Now that certainly sounds useful and may be a simple rule to follow.

More attitude than style

That said, is smart-casual really a style; a semi-uniform? Given the lack of clarity, could it be said to be more a state of mind when it comes to fashion and style? More an attitude or a mood? A willingness to make an effort when attending an event when the attire doesn’t have to be formal? There’s an argument for that interpretation. Indeed, the old-school fashion designer par excellence, Hardy Amies, wrote in A-Z of Style that ‘smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes rather than their style … shoes polished, trousers pressed and tie properly tied are necessary factors in a smart appearance’. Far from all of this applies to smart-casual, sure; but there’s still something pertinent in those words. Smart-casual doesn’t mean casual; it’s a half-way house and it’s often defined by attitude rather than casualness or, indeed, smartness.

All the same, when applied to individual wardrobe items, what does this mean…?

Blazers

All-time favourites of the mod look, of course, blazers can ably form part of the smart-casual get-up. For instance, boating blazers are a die-hard of mod clothing London, but to attempt smart-casual with a mod-inspired blazer doesn’t require going the full vintage-stripes route. Indeed, you can pull out any blazer from your wardrobe and pair it in mod-style with a t-shirt. And should the blazer have a rustic feel – or, rather, some texture – to it, wearing it with jeans will work too. Moreover, unstructured blazers (those without padded shoulders) also look more casual, so fit well with the look; not least because they usually feel a little less rigid and a bit more comfortable to wear.

Legwear

Less easy to get right with smart-casual is what you wear below the waist. A go-to for anyone looking to ‘hone’ this style/ attitude/ look (as above, call it what you will), jeans are absolutely fine, of course; so long as they’re dark (preferably black or navy and not distressed). For instance, you can certainly wear them in some offices. However, should you swap them for tailored trousers, then you’ll be nicely erring on the smarter side of smart-casual; in short, you’ll be upping the style stakes.

footwear

Footwear

Finally, footwear. This can be where it gets complicated. Obviously, the less dressy the shoe your wear the more casual on the smart-casual spectrum you’re treading. But what does that actually mean? Well, colour-wise, black is smartest, brown fairly medium and tan pretty casual. Silhouette-wise, pointy toes are smart-ish; round ones a bit more casual. And leather-wise, shiny (and definitely polished) leather is bordering on smart-smart; matte suede’s pretty casual. In terms of shoe types then, Oxfords are really too smart for smart-casual, while brogues, Chelsea boots and definitely loafers and desert boots are fine.

But what about trainers? Well, you’re certainly going far more casual than smart should you pull on a pair of sneakers and, to do it right, you really ought to go for a classic, decade-old design. And the darker the trainer hue the better too; if they’re new-ish and clean and not at all scuffed, they’ll look far smarter than the average trainer.

Blazing a trail? What to consider before buying a blazer

Believe it or not, the blazer was first worn by the crew of the ship HMS Blazer. Yes, really. How so? Well, its captain, deciding his crew looked decidedly unkempt and with a visit by the then monarch Queen Victoria imminent, had them each decked out in a short, waist-length jacket – shorter than a suit jacket, but still smart in navy blue, not least because it also possessed shiny, brass buttons. Indeed, the captain’s instincts were spot on, for Victoria herself was so deeply impressed she commissioned the new garment to be part of her Navy’s official dress uniform. And so, the long history of the blazer was born.

boating-blazer

The thinking then, of course, is that it crossed over into civilian dress thanks to the cultural importance and popularity of the British Navy, most likely via traditional tailors on Savile Row whom, at first, made and sold the blazer for naval officers. Following this, a variation on the original blazer – the single-breasted sports jacket – became de rigeur for members of rowing clubs throughout the 19th Century and into much of the 20th Century, usually in the colours of the club concerned – and often in striped patterns – to be worn at rowing meets and regattas. It would become recognised as the men’s boating blazer.

Naturally, the blazer – following the beginning of the post-Second World War period when its popularity appeared to wane, especially among younger people who started to see it as conservative and staid – enjoyed a definite resurgence in the ’60s thanks to its adoption by the mod crowd, often in bright, bold colours and manufactured in stripes. A trend that, as you’re no doubt aware, continues to this day, with the fashions of mod culture proving more than enduring well into the 21st Century now.

The nature of the blazer

So much for the history of the blazer, but whether because of the ever popularity of mod fashion or not, it remains a go-to outerwear choice for men when dressing either smartly or casually – and that’s because of its sheer versatility. In fact, a blazer’s so flexible it can pull practically any outfit together.

Now, it’s true to say that the material, colour and fit will, in many ways, define the level of formality a blazer’ll effectively fit with, but don’t doubt it; in general terms, throwing a blazer together with a pair of jeans will always be an ideal way to pull off a smart-casual yet stylish look that’s suitable for the likes of dinners, dates and workplaces where the dress code is somewhat relaxed. Whether it be a properly smart blazer or even a mod-friendly striped blazer men’s, this garment inevitably lends an outfit a soupçon (or more) of finesse.

But just how does a blazer differ from similar men’s garments, like a suit jacket and a sports coat? Well, a suit jacket is more formal, made to be matched with trousers of the same colour and material, as well as being more structured in the shoulders. A sports coat, by contrast, is generally less formal than a blazer. So, standing between these two items of a man’s wardrobe, the blazer is a versatile garment that may come in a variety of different colours, designs and materials (from polyester to worsted wool and serge to cashmere), ensuring then it’s ideal for a variety of different occasions.

Period details: tips on how to get retro fashion right

At the end of the day, unless you’re being forced to dress with restrictions – appropriate office wear, specific work environment gear or even a school uniform (urgh!) – what clothing you choose to wear is all about selecting what you feel comfortable in. It’s like putting on and wearing a second skin; only you get to choose this skin – not least because you’re the one who’s (more than likely) going to buy the different bits and pieces from which it’s formed!

That said, if you fancy doing something a little outside the norm; that is, stepping away from modern fashions and trying out vintage and/ or retro clothing styles, how should you approach it? How can you get it ‘right’ without feeling like you’re putting on a costume? Here are some tips…

Consider current trends

Don’t assume that anything vintage or retro won’t be relevant when it comes to today’s fashion – that idea is, frankly, a nonsense. For the simple reason that in fashion what goes around has always come around; clothing trends and fads come in and go out and new trends are practically always influenced by something (or several things) that have come before. Fashion houses often look to vintage garments they keep in their archives for inspiration; it’s how the industry works. So why shouldn’t you, when it comes to delving into the big, wonderful, wide pool of vintage/ retro fashion, do the same but in reverse?

Keep your make-up and hair contemporary…

Let’s face it, unless you’re going the whole hog and making some serious effort to complete your vintage/ retro look by accompanying an old-fashioned outfit with an era-defining hairstyle and make-up touches also from that era, these two facets of your look are going to be comparatively modern. Or, at least, how you tend to usually do your hair and face when you step out of the house. So, if you’re worried about looking too costume-y in your appearance, don’t worry about this; even if you fancy creating a nod to period make-up/ hair, there’s no need to go overboard (for instance, accompanying a Mary Quant-style dress with a pixie cut). Less is often more, after all.

… And keep your accessories modern too

Once again, if you’re new to the vintage/ retro fashion adventure then you’re likely to want to find your feet and a good way is to be tentative. This can mean grounding an outfit with modern touches here and there; for instance, your accessories. Adding modern shoes, bags and sunglasses to, say, mod clothing fashion is a good way to dip your toes in without trying for a daunting ‘perfect 10’ dive straightaway. You might want to mix accessories and garments of the same colours (in different shades, perhaps) or complement bold colours in your dress or a skirt-blouse-tights combo with elegant black accessories.

1960s-womens-fashion

Mix old with new

As an extension of the preceding point, if you feel a little more daring you may be up for mixing and matching clothes from a particular era (or new ‘retro’ garments inspired by a particularly era) with decidedly on-trend, modern ones. As pointed out in the first tip above, this works really well when you get it bang-on as practically every piece of current fashion has its roots in fashion from a previous age. For example, if you think about it, a stylish, white Edwardian blouse could look stunning when worn with torn jeans and 1960s women’s fashion (not least polo shirts) can go dynamically well with a modern pencil skirt and boots. Moreover, going this route is a great way to discover inventive ways of wearing vintage/ retro garments you acquire as (part of) everyday outfits. So, it’s a win-win, all round.

Suited and booted: how to achieve the mod look

It’s not difficult to fall for the charms of mod fashion – an effortless combination of timeless-looking elegance and cool – so it’s far from surprising that, for some, it’s utterly irresistible. However, maybe given its association with a certain youthful grouping back in the day that proudly possessed other cultural calling cards beyond just fashion (music, mode of transport, cultural rebellion and more) and something of a revival of this group now and again, some may assume it’s a style choice that’s not the easiest to authentically penetrate and get right. Don’t believe it, though, because that’s not true at all. It’s easy indeed to borrow from this sub-culture’s wardrobe – so what’s stopping you from experimenting with narrow cuts, lace-up boots, bold checks, stripes and patterns; in short, what’s stopping you from going mod…?

Shirts

Checks; it’s all about the checks when it comes to mod-friendly shirts. Sure, a checked shirt may suggest something of a preppy look, but with the other ingredients that make up mod style, they don’t appear at all preppy when worn by a mod. Indeed, it’s all about elegance (simple, clean styles and straight cuts), so the bold colour of some checks complement a sharp, elegant suit by both reinforcing it and contrasting with it. For the essential look, be sure to do up your shirt’s top button; think Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who (yes, mod influence gets everywhere!).

coat

Coats

Comfortable and easy to sling on, both a bomber jacket and a parka are ‘go-tos’ for mod outerwear. Although the parka is and will forever be iconoclastic with regards to mods (thanks, more than anything else, to Quadrophenia, of course), the bomber jacket’s actually the more flexible piece, better enabling either dressing up or down in a mod look or creating smart-casual. The parka, meanwhile, is the centrepiece in a mod look (think Noel and Liam Gallagher back during the heady days of Britpop); zipped right to the top, it’s pretty much always becomes the main focus of an outfit.

trousers

Trousers

Although skinny jeans have been fashionable for much of this decade, they’re not an easily attainable option for a mod clothing look because, fundamentally, they’re not really mod-friendly. Although boxy designs and slim-fittings are what mods are all about, their love of elegance means they much preferred jeans in a simple slim-cut than a truly skinny fit. And that goes for trousers and chinos too. Traditionally, they’d taper them for the smartest possible cut and often roll up the bottom to showcase their footwear. Again, jeans or chinos for a casual look, trousers or chinos for a smart-casual look and trousers for a smart look; the mod style is far more versatile than you might have first thought.

Footwear

When it comes to what they wear on their feet, mods love a good old Chelsea boot. Stylishly sleek with nice angles and, yet again, versatile as you like, it’s understandable, indeed, why this piece of footwear is the default shoe choice among those shopping at a mod clothing store. And always will be, let’s be honest. By and large, a black version’s the genuine article, although dark brown’s a fair variant, and probably goes best with slim fit chinos or trousers (Chelsea boots look terrific with suits, of course). Alternatively, of course, there’s the option of the classic lace-up desert boot in suede (beige or stone), which can be worn casually or smart.

So, as you can see, the mod fashion style isn’t so much defined by rules but by guidelines; indeed, it’s because of this that it became so instantly popular with its sub-culture – it didn’t enforce some sort of rigid uniform, more parameters in which you could dress as smartly or casually as you liked while remaining ‘on trend’ and in-with-the-crowd. No wonder it’s still so popular now!

Sleek lines and cool cuts: why mod style is back in the mainstream

Let’s face it, you can’t keep good fashion down. Just when a look that defines a particular era goes out for new trends and fads to take its place, before you know it, up pops the original fashion again; influencing modern styles and looks in an utterly irresistible way. So, it goes with the mod look, that delicious and supreme example of 1960s men’s style that, although it’s been out now and again, seems always to have been bubbling under in the fashion stakes and is undoubtedly in once more.

In fact, the truth is that like a lovingly prepared Americano – one you might sip on your Vespa, before speeding off on an adventure to who knows where – mod style’s been percolating away for a while now, waiting to burst back into the mainstream firmament in a big way. And, don’t doubt it, the proof was verily in the pudding at London Fashion Week earlier this year that it’s definitely back in 2017 – and in a big way.

60s-men-clothing

That irresistible mod appeal

Indeed, not since the release of The Who’s Quadrophenia back in the ’70s has mod fashion been so obvious and unavoidable. And it’s hardly surprising; its pared-down look, elegant cuts and sharp angles seem perfectly suited to the über-elegant design conscious 2010s, while its simplicity also ensures it’s flexible enough to be used as the basis for and mixed with modern designers’ garment creations, essentially ensuring this one-time 60s men clothing can evolve not just in the present but well into the future – if not forever.

It’s not just about the look of mod style, though; it’s about what it says – what the mod persona that’s wrapped up with it in our memories and imaginations says to us. Indeed, the appeal of mod-related facets (oh-so cool music, free-wheeling modes of transport and, yes, that youthful rebellious streak of character) is more than understandable in – what you might describe as – the challenging, unsure times we’re currently living through. Who wouldn’t seek some freedom in the modern world, while also embracing something fresh and modern at the same time; something genuinely ‘mod’? It’s this essence of ‘modernity’ that maybe makes mod so irresistible.

Who fancies a revival?

And so it proved at London Fashion Week this spring. Take for example the show where Stella McCartney’s first ever men’s collection was displayed – it was all about the types of looks that McCartney Senior was all about himself before sharp Swinging Sixties style gave way to loose hippiedom. In fact, demonstrating the erstwhile appeal of the mod look, even that icon of punk culture, The Clash’s Paul Simenon, was in attendance – sporting particularly smart mod togs himself.

Moreover, mod clothing London was, naturally, the name of the game at the Ben Sherman show. And how. Titled ‘The Spirit of Mod’, this event demonstrated for sure that men’s mod fashion’s well and truly where it’s at once more thanks to showing off its reinvented ‘fishtail’ parka that features supreme Union Jack linings. And, as if that wasn’t enough, one of the new millennium’s coolest figures, the universally respected David Beckham, has made sure that at the centre of his new fashion collection (designed in conjunction with Savile Row’s Kent & Curwen) is more than a hint of mod – indeed, the mod influence is there to be seen by all and sundry.

Which makes perfect sense, of course, because Kent & Curwen itself was a brand that was, back in the day, beloved of original ’60s mods and, what with good old Becks deciding to use some of his many millions to buy a sizeable stake in the company, why not come up with a collection that screams mod?

All that said, though, you don’t need to wheedle your way into London Fashion Week – or, indeed, any hoity-toity fashion show – to see for yourself that the mod look is back and back to stay. Just check out the proliferation of mod fashion all over the ’Net, to buy or just to view. Not least on this very site, of course. Mod style’s returned – and like that post-Americano Vespa, it’s moving and influencing and looking ace as it does so.

If the shoe fits? Larger shoe sizes for women

If you’re a woman with average-sized or relatively small feet, you should count yourself lucky. Why? Because it’s recently come to light just how poorly served women with larger feet are in the UK. In fact, few can regularly find shoes that fit at all. But why is this the case? Why aren’t we hearing about it more – has it always been a problem?

Well, the likelihood we don’t hear about it as much as we might (and why you personally may not have) is because, of course, it doesn’t affect anything like the majority of British women – most aren’t suffering from continuous rubbed feet or toes hanging off the end of their sandals. That said, another reason it’s not talked about much is because it’s probably only a relatively recent phenomenon. And we suspect this because of statistics – according to the College of Podiatry, since the 1970s, the size of British people’s feet has increased. Starkly so, in fact – back then the average size for men was an eight and for a woman a four; it’s now a 10 and a six, respectively. That’s an increase of two whole sizes for both sexes in around 40 years.

And this fact has become an issue because the shoe industry hasn’t appreciated it and so not moved with the times to tackle it. Now, needless to say, here at Sherry’s we’ll aim to supply every woman’s size, irrespective of whether it’s about average, large or small when they choose and select women shoes from us (whether they be leather or suede beat boots or any other kind), but the wider industry simply isn’t doing a good enough job.

women-shoes

Girls wearing boys’ shoes

So much so that, when asked about it for a recent BBC report, the Society of Shoe Fitters (yes, that’s right, there is actually such a thing) claimed that around 30 percent of the inquiries from the public their spokesperson takes come from young girls wondering what to do because they can’t find any suitable shoes above a UK size eight. In the vast majority of cases, as you’d have probably guessed, girls in this boat have to swallow their pride and go for a pair of boys’ shoes.

And that really isn’t a good thing because, beyond mere aesthetic considerations, boys’ shoes don’t suit girls’ feet, for the simple reason they’re specifically designed for boys’ feet. In fact, the society claims that wearing shoes intended for boys will even alter a girl’s physiology as, when she feels her feet hurting, she’ll shift her stance in an unnatural way, which will slowly damage her joints and tendons, potentially causing issues with her ankles, hips, knees and neck later in life. The blame for this, according to the society, lays at the, er, feet of the industry; shifting its focus of production overseas to cut costs as British shoe manufacturing began to fade in the 1980s. Today, around 65 percent of the shoes produced internationally are made in China, where the average woman’s shoe size is equivalent to a three-and-a-half in Britain, owing to Chinese feet generally being smaller and narrower than those of British people.

 

A few sizes ‘fit’ all – but forever?

The net result then is, yes, bully to women requiring larger shoe sizes over here. But now that the problem is becoming a little better recognised, what does the future hold? Will it be a case of only a few shoe sizes having to fit all forever?

Happily, hopefully not. The fact is things never stand still and technology is, of course, always improving. Allied to this is that old adage; necessity is the mother of innovation. With any amount of luck, better technology should mean that personalised fittings for women whatever the size of their feet should be possible – and not at the prohibitive prices of too many of today’s handmade shoes. After all, it’s possible even now to measure your feet via phone app – how soon before that data can be sent directly to a manufacturer and an order for a pair of shoes placed? If the shoe fits, indeed…

 

Suiting up or not? What you need to know to get smart-casual right

It’s entirely understandable you might be a mite confused as to what men’s ‘smart-casual’ is supposed to mean. Many people are. It’s a fashion dress code of sorts that’s becoming ever more popular in the UK and, yes, owing to the sort of looks and garments attached to it, does crossover into the kinds of clothes that are embraced by mod culture. Indeed then, by throwing yourself into smart-casual style, it could be argued it’s a fine way to blend mod clothing into a 21st Century look that’s suitable for practically every occasion. But then, that begs the question – how do you get smart-casual right? And, frankly, what is smart-casual?

Yes, it is definitely entirely understandable smart-casual as a phrase may stump you – after all, it sounds like a contradiction in terms. A phrase made up of two words that, together, seem to create an oxymoron (like ‘true lies’ or ‘deafening silence’), but best not to get fixated on that! Best to look past it and get into the nitty-gritty of where smart apparel and informal casualwear meld seemingly so effortlessly in order to look just right when you attend that dressy party or all-important job interview at that trendy firm you’d love to work for.

formal

Formal vs. informal

Essentially, smart-casual itself splits into two different categories – formal and informal (a little confusing? Stick with us here). Now, for men, the formal version of smart-casual is usually achieved via a jacket or blazer, a shirt with a collar, needlecord-style trousers or chinos and smart shoes (trainers are a no-no here, for sure). A sweater may work under the jacket if it’s cold, but be careful not to push it.

The informal version is, naturally, a little more relaxed – and may be where mod-style clothing feels more at home. In most cases, it means you can substitute smartish, dark coloured jeans for smarter trousers. Shorts – when it’s warm and summery – are probably taking it too far; light trousers would be better. And polo t-shirts, that old mod clothing London staple, are probably a better bet than collarless t-shirts. As a rule, if you’re unsure whether formal or informal smart-casual would be more suitable for an occasion, if possible check with a host or an event organiser. Better to be safe – and on-trend – than sorry!

Make or breaks

Finally, the following are all golden rules when it comes to smart-casual:

  • Comfortable shoes but not too comfortable– in all fairness, the smart-casual dress code probably always looks better with smarter shoes (mod-friendly too then); if you really want to go the comfortable route, though, think nice-looking, light suede shoes and no trainers!
  • Unstructured blazers– perhaps the essential part of the smart-casual look, it’s important to get the blazer you choose right; it shouldn’t have shoulder pads, be a tad shorter than the smarter alternatives and lightness, both in style and weight, is a winner here (remember the casual side of smart-casual; too smart a blazer and you’re veering towards ‘smart alone’)
  • Lighter shades– you ought to be careful with light colours when it comes to any sort of look that has ‘smart’ in its title, of course, but they’ll help bring out the ‘casual’ in smart-casual; a safe choice here is always a crisp, white polo t-shirt with a collar (smart) with its naturally breezy look and short-sleeves (casual)
  • If you’re not sure, go formal rather than casual –a solid rule of thumb this one, as it’s always better to look over- rather than under-dressed when it comes to smart-casual; you shouldn’t forget the ‘smart’ here because you are supposed to be ‘making the effort’ with smart-casual, don’t forget, and you can always tone down the look as you build it by replacing a couple of items and going for looser, freer options.