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Photo: Tommy Ton

Introducing the best flat shoe-wearer on the planet: Ana Gimeno Brugada. The Milan-based, Spanish-born stylist and fashion consultant (and regular on my best-dressed Pinterest board) is never out of Gentlewoman Style footwear and Gucci flats.  Ana GB is fairly elusive and has said of the fashion week circus, ‘Sometimes they are just trying to get shots of people in the newest clothes. This drives me crazy because I don’t want to be catalogued in that world.’ Fair point. There’s a bit more about her HERE.


This photograph of a child model in the latest edition of Vogue reminded me of two things. 1) A couple of readers wanted to know where to find these lace-up shoes. 2) the 1980s (see below). Fashion seems to have circled back to the decade of big backcombed hair and DIY style; and I very much like the current ‘wear what you like’ mood. Anyhow. The shoes in the Vogue picture are from Church’s, a favourite footwear brand of mine. Other places to find fabulous flats are Grenson, Toast – whose brogues are made in Northampton by Joseph Cheaney & Sons – Clarks and Everlane.

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As a student in the 1980s, I wore Dr Marten’s all the time and seriously believed I’d never wear another shoe. Recently, I’ve spotted a couple of grown-up women looking very chic in lace-up Docs and cropped trousers. Could it be time for a DM revival?

Ana Gimeno Brugada in Gucci. Photo: Acielle/Style du Monde

Style tip: match socks to shoes or trousers. And here’s a selection of flat shoes for you:



45 thoughts on “The best way to wear flat lace-ups and brogues

  1. Oh thank goodness,back to flats!! As a model in the 60’s it was always heels to be well dressed and I have had that in my head ever since. But a sigh of relief to realize I am not the only one that loves D.Martins, Church’s ,Clarks etc. they can look so chic!!

  2. IMO it’s definitely worth trading up so that they last. They also tend to be much more elegant and flattering on the foot. I love my Joseph Cheaney chelsea boots and have a couple of pairs of Church’s brogues. Both come up a bit long and narrow so best to try on first if you can. But at a certain age, I’ve decided I will always invest in my footwear – my days of sore feet are so over!

    1. Completely agree with you, Jill. You get what you pay for with shoes and so it’s worth spending a bit more on decent footwear that will last and not make your feet hurt.

  3. The Hobbs brogues featured are gorgeous and a bit more affordable than Church’s/Grenson et al. Think I might just save for the claret ones, although just checked Hobbs website and they have, obligingly, put their ‘Agatha’ brogues in the sale – bless ’em!! I have multiple pairs of Clarks Hamble Oak and they are great but not QUITE what my champagne taste/lambrusco budget (no, not really that dreadful) allows for. I actually wore ‘heels’ on NYE and felt silly all night – liberation indeed not to need or want the toe-busters any more.

  4. I noticed in one of the photos Ana Brugada wearing frayed jeans with her red Gucci shoes. Could you possibly do an article on frayed jeans for older women? I’m thinking of carving up a pair of my jeans to try it but don’t know if I should begin with a boot cut or a straight leg. Also, I’m a petite so purchasing may be an issue as they’re usually worn 2 inches above the ankle.
    Thank you.

    1. I would think pointed rather than square or rounded toes,I think they take away width or the impression of width. But whatever you choose be comfortable.

  5. Fratelli Rossetti !!!!! My closet was once full of the most luscious gentlewoman shoes on the planet.
    They have reduced their US presence, so a trip to Milan or London is in order. Any excuse to shoe-shop.

  6. In college, I had a beautiful pair of brogues that were extremely brutal to break in, but they became the most amazing shoes ever. I bought a pair of Frye oxfords earlier this winter and now want their Erica oxfords in oxblood – as much as I love gentlewoman shoes, there always seems to be an opportunity for another pair!

  7. Oh, one other comment – I respectfully disagree about the matching socks. Yes, that advice to match trousers or shoes is a safe way to dress, but it also eliminates so many other options. For those of us whose color palette is subdued, choosing a cool sock is often the item that moves an outfit from “meh” to “wow, that’s style.” Glitter socks, stripes, dots, nordic, or small patterns can provide a subtle little push. After all, the guys do the same thing…..

    1. Completely agree about the socks often making the outfit. I’m a big admirer of Linda V. Wright’s style (thanks to Alyson who has posted photos of her), and she nails “gentlewoman” daily, often with (bright!) contrasting socks. In her latest blog post, she’s head to toe navy with royal purple socks. Total panache.

      1. I’m with you both. My collection if sparkly, lacy and striped socks just lift an outfit and the lace nes particuly are a nice contrast to brogues.

    2. I’m a sock person too, I love a stripe, polka dot, glitter and lacy knit! I have several pairs of navy glitter socks (window pane check, dots etc) and I will wear them with navy trews and shoes, but I’m just as likely to go statement!

  8. I remember in the 80’s buying a fabulous pair of oxfords that I wore with everything and they called it Tomboy style. We wore feminine with masculine, fedora hats, over size (men’s blazers) jackets and long shirts. Those Annie Hall girls piled on the clothes and scored the vintage and second hand shops for clothes. Lots of shoulder pads, as well. I love that now with the younger gals they do much more mixing and matching. Great post, brought back fond memories. I’m getting a pair of those “oxfords.”

  9. Love the flats. Generally I agree that you get what you pay for with shoes and boots but don’t underestimate Clarks. I’m still wearing two pairs of Clarks Chelsea boots, one tan, the other black that I bought when I was working and wore constantly. I’m still wearing them and I’ve been retired 4 years! I’ve revamped the black nubuck pair by polishing them with black shoe polish and they look a treat. My next pair will come from Clarks, assuming they still make them.

  10. Sue – I would never knock the magnificent Clarks. My ‘go-to’s’ are my three (!!) pairs of Orinoco Club nubuck chelsea boots that wear wonderfully with age and take on character! I have them in tan, burgundy and black and I don’t think I could function without them.

  11. I can’t wear the heavy type of brogue shoe given thick leather against bunions but do have some softer lace up shoes.
    Yes to a very good pair of Fratelli Rossetti brogues on a trainer type sole. Expensive but comfortable shoes I always used to buy and wear, their loafers included. London shop may have closed . It would be a pity if so.

    Please do write in general about cropped trousers, rolled jeans. I wear both. I did take a pair of dressmaking shears to the hem of some Gap flared jeans I didn’t much like. Not finished yet, do I fray them or hem roughly ? The shredded hem look is achieved using a razor blade rather than scissors once one has marked up how much to cut off with tailors chalk I imagine. Your take on this style would be appreciated Alyson.

  12. My Clark’s silver brogues are my current favourites, especially with my £10 teal blue charity shop wool coat.

  13. Thank you so much for the link to Church’s shoes. I was in a state of abject lust the moment the page opened. I was one of the readers needing to know where they came from.

    I’ve never worn any thing other than flats (other than a brief dalliance with an electric blue pair of Maud Frizons and a tomato soup red pair of stilettos thirty year ago). I’ve worn Docs on and off for twenty years. Bought a pair of children’s gold Docs in a sale and wore them for the next fifteen years straight, with trousers, with black dresses, with everything bar pyjamas. The problem with them is that they take a long eternity to wear in, but once you’re there, everything else feels alien.

  14. For the very best of blogs on flat shoes go to
    Hannah Rochell has written two lovely books all about flats. Hopefully you have all bought them, read them and enjoyed her illustrations.
    Adore her!

  15. Ana Brugada, what a gorgeous woman, what style! I’m longing for a pair of your favorite, Church’s. Brogues done right are so sexy. Great selection of flats. Thank you.

  16. Still laughing at “child model” comment….Funny lady.
    I went straight for the snake skin pair which turned out to be Dries! Love love love them! Annnd they are on sale BAM.
    Great post Alyson x

  17. I love a heel but arthritic spine forces flats – which is a particular problem if you have wide feet. I love many of the styles in this post but could I wear them? I live in the sticks and have to buy on line mainly and am constantly disappointed. Laces in lace-ups don’t do up neat and close; finding loafers that don’t, eventually, gape is another problem. I lashed out on a pair of Tod’s that look beautiful but gave me corns. Bought a pair of Grenson’s monk shoes on line which are exquisitely made and comfortable but they make my feet look huge. I wear dear old Clarks and boring old Van Dal for comfort but if any wide-footed reader can offer advice – other than a hand -made pair from Lobbs at £2000+ – I’d be grateful.

  18. I’ve tried to incorporate brogues into my look, they were divine and by Penelope Chilvers .
    Unfortunately they accentuate my skinny calves and ankles when worn with crop wide trousers, I just couldn’t like the look on myself though adore it on others.
    The Grenson brogues are cut very high and dig into my ankles, and the Church’s which I bought a couple of years ago have never been comfortable.
    I still have my 20yr old Fratelli Rosetti which I had resoled at great expense, they aren’t heavy looking so not as edgy but they suit my frame and don’t hurt .
    I rarely give up on a look and can usually find a way to make it work, once I’ve finished my Tax return [!!!!] I am going to hit the shops to try again! I think some socks may solve the skinny ankle problem , thanks for the tips.

  19. I’m pleased to see broques and oxfords are still in style for 2017. They look great with a slim leg chino, cuffed. The thought is “I’m stylin’!”. Lol
    Those Snakeskin Dries are drool worthy. Be still my heart! Oh, but….. they don’t ship to Canada. Nooooooo
    Match or don’t match your sock to your pant or shoe. I think it’s the look you are going for, on any given day. It’s common to see a man in a suit with a bright sock exposed at the ankle. I believe it shows that he has a sense of humour. Helloooo!
    Anyone want to ship me those snakeskin brogues? Anyone???

  20. Doc Martens have been off my radar for years. But thanks to your post above, I went to their website and discovered they’re not making only your mother’s Doc Martens anymore (although the basics are still there). I could get into some of those. 🙂

  21. Thom Browne has done the best pair of Chelsea boots this season with his fabulous trade mark red, white and blue stripes – just bought a pair for a client

  22. Just wanted to reply to LISA BRUZZESE, about the cropped and frayed jeans. I’m five feet 2 also and find that the petite fit jeans from J Crew are perfect. I have a cropped baby flare with a frayed hem and the length is just above the ankle exactly as it fits on the model on the website. The petite range is only available online, at least in the U.K., some Us stores stock it too.

  23. I followed someone’s comment at your last post on Brogues and tried a pair of Tracey Neuls Geeks. They are as comfortable as a pair of home slippers. I just ordered a pair of her Deans Derby. Not the classic Brogue, but I like their edginess.

    I tried a pair of Churchs which were very heavy and hard leather, so not for me.

    Another brand to look for such kind of shoes is Think!. Affordable, comfortable and they do replace the sole when neccessary.

  24. Ha ha – ANOTHER reason to ditch the heels – see Amber Rudd in the news today. The poor woman’s kitten heel is trapped between paving stones. Now that wouldn’t have happened with brogues, would it! Now maybe, perhaps if Ms May took up the brogue (even if it was animal print?).
    To comment on Rachel with an E’s coat – I recently bought the most amazing coat in the world in a charity shop – black and dark pine green wool and alpaca – heavy and vintage with elbow length sleeves and huge black buttons made by ‘Paul Gavriel’. I can’t find anything about him/this company on line. Does anyone out there know of this brand/time of production.

  25. I invested in a pair of Cheaney brogues, they are (hands down) the most comfortable new shoes I’ve ever had, considering they are built like a chieften tank. They look really good with jeans and short skirts/thick tights. I feel like a ghille up here in the Highlands!

  26. Thank you for all of your suggestion. After an athletic injury years ago I looked for flats to pamper my broken knee. While Gucci, Church, and Paul Green have been in my closet, I most often love my Gravati flats and boots and was surprised no one mentioned them.

  27. Can I give a word of praise to Marks and Spencer’s Best of British brogues, a staple of the collection for the last three years and also made by Joseph Cheaney. The silver-gilt ones from AW16 are particularly wonderful. Can’t wait to see what this season’s colour will be.

  28. Love the flats and brogue look. Easy to follow when one is average height or tall but what about us petite ladies of a certain age?
    It would be soooo lovely if we could have some comprehensive styling ideas for 5ft 2″ gentlewoman and under – there are many of us out here!

    1. Many petite women wear flat shoes and brogues Georgina – see also Navaz Batliwalla’s book ‘The New Garçonne: how to be a modern gentlewoman’. Navaz is a friend of mine and a petite 5′ 2″

  29. I bought my first pair of DM boots in 1992 (I was 16) and I still wear them! Sadly, it’s almost time to say goodbye but I’ll be buying another pair for sure. For me, they’ve always been a part of my style.

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