There are some people who have a ‘thing’ about shoes – and then there’s Hannah Rochell. InStyle’s Fashion Features Editor is so obsessed with shoes (flats, to be precise) that she founded a blog, En Brogue dedicated to the pursuit of “style and comfort” and the fabulousness of flats. Two books (En Brogue: Love Fashion, Love Shoes, Hate Heels and The Trainers Guide) followed. So who better to cast her expert eye over hush’s collection and pair her favourite pieces with the perfect flats...
How did you get your job at InStyle?
I had been working at The Times for 5 years: first as fashion assistant; working my way up to fashion writer - and was asked to apply for the job of junior fashion editor at InStyle by a former Times colleague. I was ready for a move and hadn't worked full-time at a magazine before so it felt right. Plus I'd always loved reading InStyle! Shortly after I joined, InStyle's fashion features editor got another job and I was promoted. I guess it was a case of right place, right time!
What inspired it?
Before I worked at InStyle I was keen to raise my profile in the industry. A lot of my contemporaries were writing style blogs, but I really hate having my picture taken so that didn't really appeal to me. Around the same time I had been documenting the flat shoes I was wearing to fashion week on Instagram and it was proving popular (this was four years ago before flats on the FROW was the norm), and I had the idea for the name of the blog and En Brogue was born. The whole process only took about a week.
When did your love affair with flats begin?
My love affair with shoes started with the purple Converse All Stars I got for my 13th birthday. I never really got into heels at all; my style has always revolved around trainers or more tomboyish styles. When I first started working in fashion I felt pressure to wear heels, but after totally losing my style identity and falling over a lot, I'd had enough. Then I got my first pair of Grenson brogues about 5 years ago and the obsession began.
Do you eschew heels altogether - will you ever be spotted in a pair?
Never. I don't own any! I gave the few pairs I did own to charity shops.
How many pairs of flats do you own?
I hate this question! I genuinely don't know. There are old precious pairs that I keep, but don't wear anymore, for example (I still have those 25 year old purple Converse). So do they count? Let's call it a collection of over 100 pairs. All loved and cherished! And often "permanently loaned" to my teenage nieces...
Who’s your style inspiration?
My style icons are mostly men. I was big time into Britpop; Damon Albarn circa 1994 still inspires my style. I love mods, but the guys rather than the girls. And David Bowie: there's an amazing picture of him wearing Stan Smiths with a cream suit and I loved his ‘don't give a damn’ attitude. If only everyone was brave enough to just wear what they wanted!
How would you sum your personal style?
Retro print-obsessed tomboy who is addicted to the colour yellow.
Your top three styling tips are...
1. When wearing flats with trousers or jeans, always show a flash of ankle: it’s way more flattering. Either look for cropped styles or turn those hems up!
2. Don't let anyone tell you you're too old to wear a certain item. For example, I think leather trousers look better on a more mature lady than someone really young. Wear what you like and what you feel good in.
3. If you are uncomfortable - whether that's because your heels are too high, your skirt is too tight or any other sartorial problem that involves pain - you will never look chic. In my opinion, the most stylish people are often the ones who look the most comfortable. If you're uncomfortable, get changed!
Is there something you would never, ever wear?
Heels! I'm also really not keen on the colour pink.
What about your beauty secrets?
I'm very low maintenance! I use Palmer's Cocoa Butter natural face scrub every morning in the shower, followed by their SPF moisturiser. At night I cleanse and moisturise with coconut oil (I have a huge pot from the cooking aisle in the supermarket that lasts literally years). I don't think you need to spend a lot of money on beauty products - the main thing is to keep your skin clean and moisturised.
Reading... The Goodness of Dogs by India Knight. She writes so beautifully about dogs. I cried reading the first sentence! (I am besotted with my own miniature schnauzer, Grenson).
Watching... Season 2 of Narcos on Netflix.
Listening to... Matador by Gaz Coombes. I saw him play three times last year and I can't get enough of his sublime voice.