Chinti and Parker Talks Shoes with InStyle's Hannah Rochell

Heels by nature are impractical and uncomfortable. Yet their vertiginous line has been the height of chic since cobblers turned engineers and gave women the chance to buy a few extra inches. So it comes as a surprise that the Fashion Editor of InStyle, Hannah Rochell, is not vertically inclined. After an embarrassing fall, Rochell has sworn against stilettos instead favouring her soles to be firmly on the floor. Inspired, she started her popular blog En Brogue to chart her life in flats, which has led to the publishing of a book dedicated to horizontal footwear. We, obviously, wanted to know more.

Why did you start En Brogue?

As I work in fashion I'd wanted to start a blog for a while but I don't really like having my picture taken, so a 'what I'm wearing today' blog wasn't right for me. I also wanted something really different that I was passionate about, so as I do genuinely only wear flat shoes, it seemed like the perfect fit. No need for my face to be in pictures and the opportunity to harp on endlessly about shoes!  Plus when I came up with the name I couldn't resist - I'm a sucker for a silly play on words.

Fashion says flats are fashionable at the moment, when fashion, as it inevitably will, tells us heels are again on trend, will you be tempted?

Absolutely not! I've never enjoyed wearing heels. The few dalliances I had with them always ended badly, with me either falling over or ending up bare foot. I love clothes and trends but I'm not a slave to fashion. And being comfortable and able to walk without looking totally inelegant (I CANNOT walk in heels!) is WAY more important to me. I do wonder whether heels will ever get as high as they did a few years ago. Now that women are used to the freedom of flats, I reckon there will be a lot who feel the same way as me.

Can you list your 3 favourite shoe styles please?

That's hard! I suppose if I need to pick three styles I couldn't live without for the rest of my life I could make a decision. I'd need a good pair of brogues. Grenson and Northern Cobbler are my current favourite brands for those. I'd need a pair of pointy pumps for special occasions, preferably with a T-bar strap as it's so flattering. And as I spend so much time on the Isle of Wight in the summer (where I am from) I'd need a great pair of comfortable sandals. You can't beat Birkenstock there - and that's not me following the current trend - I've been wearing them for twenty years and my whole family on the Isle of Wight live in theirs too!

Were you surprised by anything you found out when researching the book?

Oh yes there are loads of brilliant facts about shoes. I loved researching it. Like the fact that the holes punched in the leather of brogues are there to allow water to drain out because they were originally worn by Irish people who had to cross bogs to get to work. Or that the idea for the exposed air bubble on the Nike Air Max came from the designer visiting the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Who knew shoes could be so fascinating?!

If we were to go through your wardrobe, what would you not want us to find?

I tend keep clothes for sentimental reasons so I'm a bit of a hoarder and I have some VERY old T-shirts. Like a faded Soul II Soul T-shirt from about 1990 (one of the first things I ever bought with my own money) and a child's Action Man T-shirt that I bought in Camden Market when I was 17. Actually, that last one is pretty cool, I'm sad it doesn't fit me anymore!

 

You have a date, what do you wear?

Honestly? I've never been on a real date. I met my husband when I was 19 at university so hanging out at the student union doesn't count! So that's hard to say. But if I'm having a special dinner with him I would wear something simple like a cashmere sweater and a pencil skirt with flat, pointy pumps. Freshly washed hair and a tiny bit more make-up than I would wear during the day. I hate feeling too dressed up though. If you feel uncomfortable, you look uncomfortable.

What do you love about Chinti and Parker?

Everything is so soft!! The bright pops of colour really appeal to me too - I love wearing colourful prints and designs. And the little details like neon stitching on the buttons are a really nice touch - something to make you smile when you're getting dressed.

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