Ella-Louise Gilbert's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘fashion

There’s something bewitching about red shoes.  The arts have made them an object of unethical desire – from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a little girl who dared wear red shoes to church and as punishment had her feet cut off, to MGM’s The Wicked Witch of the West’s attempts to steal Dorothy’s ruby slippers.  That didn’t end so well for her either; “What a world, what  a worrrrld!”

Andersen's Karen in her red shoes, unable to stop and hear what the angel says because the shoes compel her to dance.

Andersen’s The Red Shoes inspired the 1948 film of the same title, wherein Moira Shearer plays a prima ballerina in a tale that is equally as dark and tragic as it’s predecessor.

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes

I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye the illustrations in a childhood book of the skeletal little girl whose red shoes become stuck to her feet and force her to dance “over field and meadow, in rain and sunshine, by night and by day.” Even after the executioner slices off her feet, the shoes continue to dance.  It says something of reverse psychology that although my mother knew this haunting tale off by heart, for my first pair of walking shoes she couldn’t resist these cherry red 1984 Clarks beauties.

My "Tippy Tappy Shoes"

Apparently I screamed and flailed so much in the fitting for these that the only way my Gran and Mum could get them on my feet was by telling me they’d magically enable me to tap dance.  All I needed was Grandpa’s walking stick as Fred Astaire’s cane and my world became a black and white musical where I danced better than the Nicholas Brothers. I’ll have no one tell me otherwise.

Here are some shoes I defy you not to stop dancing in.

Dancing shoes

The Red Shoes album

Kate Bush also paid homage to the taboo footwear in her 1993 album.

L. Frank Baum’s original Dorothy wore silver slippers, but wanting to take advantage of the new Technicolor, MGM felt ruby slippers would be more aesthetically alluring.

An original pair of the ruby slippers

Several pairs were made for Judy Garland and in 2000 one pair was sold at auction for $666,000.

If you’ve been searching for your own Emerald City, perhaps skipping down the road in these will help:

sparklingstrawberry.com, £30.99

Red or Dead, £100

Pope Benedict XVI has reintroduced the tradition of the red leather papal shoes.

Papal Shoes of Pope Pius VII

Inside his residences the Pope wears papal slippers which are made of red velvet or silk.  I like to imagine that when the Pope’s taylor, Gammerelli first placed the red papal shoes on Benedict XV’s feet, the Pope did a little tap dance, just to psyche himself up for the day ahead.

For Cardinals, the use of red shoes is abolished. It’s no wonder then, that for her vanity in stepping through the church’s doors in red shoes, Andersen had to cut off his character’s feet.

Due to religion’s hang-ups with red shoes I was so pleased my cousin chose to wear red shoes on her wedding day – they looked fantastic peeping out from under her pure white dress.

Abbie's wedding shoes

Part of the traditional rituals that take place when a pope dies is to bury him in his red shoes. This sounds like something a non-catholic girl from Swansea could pull off well.

I ♥ ebay

As Andersen wrote, “There is really nothing in the world that can be compared to red shoes!”


The Spring/Summer 2011 collection splashed a glorious rainbow all over the catwalk. Marc Jacobs embraced the 70’s in incandescent chiffons and silks, bright floppy hats and big flowers in even bigger hair while Raf Simons dreamed in technicolour with his luminous creations.

From neon brights to the rich colours of royalty, go Crayola crazy on your wardrobe.

Whether you play with complementing colours or use a number of the same hues it’s all about experimenting with blocks of colour to achieve an electrifying combination.

Block citrus colours for a tropical feel.

SHARP IN CITRUS (click photo to enlarge)

Feel serene in sea shades. Royal blue and teal are the favoured, elegant match of the moment having graced both the recent BAFTAS and the Haider Ackermann catwalk.


SERENE SEA (click photo to enlarge)

Don’t be afraid to mix pinks and reds or oranges for a cheerful palate reminiscent of Indian saris.


HOT AND SPICY (click to enlarge)

For a fruity look mix berry hues.


BERRY GOOD (click to enlarge)

Colour Wheel

Colours that clash are not necessarily a bad combination as the ones that are opposite each other on the colour wheel complement one another and are a high contrast pairing sure to get you noticed.

If you are brave enough to go for conflicting colours it’s best to break them up with black or white as Raf Simons demonstrated beautifully.

Raf Simons on the Jil Sanders catwalk

However, unless you are a model on the Jil Sanders catwalk or presenting Children’s BBC, I suggest sticking to just 2 blocks of contrasting colour.

For those who don’t want to look like mobile traffic lights, perhaps you might be tempted by candy colours.

Marc Jacobs' candy colours

And if you still feel colour-shy you can always add a touch of adventure by accessorising in bold coloured nail-polish, a flower hair-clip or zingy shoes.

If French Sailors knew the lasting effect they’d have on fashion when they first donned a blue and white stripy top, I’m sure they’d have slapped Coco Chanel in the face with a fish for claiming to be the advocate of the trend.

Ilona Tobisch, Francia matróz

Nothing more versatile could transcend the decades than the Breton top. Even Madonna hasn’t reinvented herself as many times as this striped classic and “la marinière” sails with confidence into the teenies, (is that what we’re calling this decade yet? It’s either that or the onesies, which for me always calls up images of a pale pink baby-gro).

Breton à la Bardot


Bridget Bardot rocked the breton long before Agyness Deyn or Alexa Chung.  For Spring 2011 the bolder the colour the better, and your favourite striped top teamed with red or blue skinny jeans will get you ooh la la’s all around.

The Seventies are back this year as fashion comes over all flares and floppy hats; a perfect combination with the Breton.  Bring the French Riviera to the wet and windy UK by teaming la marinière with a floppy hat, shades, a cute, sunny skirt and contrasting tights (only the insane go bare legged before the end of April). Or for a more masculine look, wear our striped favourite with big flares as a nod to the original sailors themselves. We salute you, Monsieurs.


(click to enlarge)

Crop top, £12.99 River Island. Stare at the stripes for too long and you'll be hypnotised.

Close, thin stripes, though putting others in danger of having an epileptic fit,  adhere to this season’s op art trend (that’s “optical” art for those who think I missed off a “P” there).

Did Kurt ever take this thing off? You can almost smell cigarettes & Courtney Love's sweat by just looking at this jumper.


Red or blue stripes instead of classic black is a sterling variation, but put them on a baggy knitted jumper and you run the danger of looking like you’re a member of an early 90’s grunge band.

Close fitted, fine knits are more aesthetically pleasing. Striped jumper-dresses flatter a slimmer figure, while more curvy girls should opt for a high waisted dress that flares out at the hips.

Who in their right mind thought printed flowers on top of chic stripes was a good idea?

Aaw no, someone spewed down my Breton.

It takes away the effortless class of la marinière and replaces it with cheap and chavtastic.

If you don’t own at least one Breton top you really need to get out of your frumpy closet and treat yourself more often! It will remain a wardrobe staple as it’s so easy to wear.  On wardrobe panic days (we all have them – you stare into a wardrobe full of clothes, yet somehow you have NOTHING suitable), throw on your marinière and even with basic trousers you instantly feel slick and stylish.