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The heel-phobe’s guide to dancing shoes

Leave your Compeed at home – from fancy flats to snazzy slippers, Hannah Rochell on how to go out-out in comfort

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By Hannah Rochell on

Welcome to party season, everyone! It’s time to go out-out and get all dressed-up for the best part of a month. Which means that there is never more of a need for out-out shoes than right now. But if you’ve become surgically attached to your Stan Smiths and can’t bear the thought of putting on a pair of heels with your LBD, what shoes will you wear for the office Christmas do? How will you survive that formal dinner with the in-laws if the restaurant’s dress code prohibits trainers? And what on earth will you wear on your feet for the New Year’s Eve knees-up? It’s quite the dilemma.

Before you resign yourself to spending December on various dancefloors in bare feet, bravely avoiding smashed glass and Keith, that heavy-footed bloke from accounts, there is an answer: fancy flats. I gave up wearing heels years ago (I even write a blog dedicated to my love of flat shoes), but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the need for a few pairs of snazzy out-out shoes, particularly at Christmas. There’s something about the ritual of putting on some really special shoes at this time of year that gets me properly into the festive spirit, much like Bing Crosby, mulled wine and novelty earrings (though the latter is reserved for my mum in my family. Hers usually require batteries. I draw the line at accessories that need a power source). Suddenly, my Gazelles are relegated to the back of the wardrobe and I find myself with something snazzy on my feet most days of the week, even if the rest of my outfit is just jeans and a sweater.

Hannah in her flat boots

Fancy flats should be approached with caution, though. It is easy to get this vibe wrong and look more like you are attending a Year Five Christmas school disco, rather than a sophisticated festive party full of thirtysomethings. I would avoid embellished ballet pumps at all costs, as they can be quite unflattering, and if you’re going for a sequinned trainer, stick to the actual sports brands (Converse, Puma and so on), rather than a high-street version, which never quite works. Here are my favourite five styles of fancy festive flats – just invest in one of them and you’ll be laughing this party season.

Party boots

These are my new party-season purchase and, my GOD, I am thrilled with them. They tick all the boxes – velvet, pointy, sparkly – but they still manage to stay on the right side of garish. Wear with a midi-length floral dress (ideally one with a dark background, so it feels more wintry) and black opaques for the ultimate in party comfort – I pop a black skinny roll-neck under mine during the day and whip it off for the evening. Or jeans and a jumper for something more casual.


Fancy lace-ups

It’s not until you own a pair of patent feathered lace-ups that you realise how invaluable they are to your wardrobe. I’ve worn my Rogue Matilda Birdies to Couture Fashion Week (the poshest event I’ve ever been to) as well as pretty much every party I’ve attended since I got them. They are ludicrously comfortable (I’ve walked for miles and danced for hours in mine) and they look fantastic with everything, from jeans to a lace frock. They also make that reassuring “click-clack” on the pavement that is often missing with party flats. The white style I’m wearing aren’t available any more, but you can now get them in an arguably more versatile black, as well as a similar backless loafer version.


Snazzy sneakers

Maybe it’s the years I spent coming fourth in dancing competitions as a child, but for some reason I hate sequins. However, I came into possession of these Converse All Stars last Christmas and, I have to admit, they changed my mind as far as footwear is concerned. I wore them throughout December with blue jeans and they put a real spring in my step – perfect for a quiet night down the pub when you know the background music will involve Noddy Holder. Also available from December 14 is the Converse x JW Anderson glitter collection, which is simply AMAZING. If you fancy something less sparkly, try Vans’ new velvet slip-ons.



These shoes are my fallback party shoes, hence them looking a little worse for wear. A flash of leopard print will bring out your party-animal spirit every time and an almond or pointed toe is about as flattering as you can get with a flat shoe, because it creates the illusion of longer legs. I like to pair mine with leather trousers, a Breton stripe and a slick of red lipstick.



Dancefloor slippers

These slip-on shoes are best reserved for Christmas Day unless you have ankles of steel to withstand the cold, but my, what a Christmas Day option they are! You basically get the convenience of a pair of slippers – because, let’s face it, there will be lots of chilling out with your feet tucked under a blanket on the sofa – but with way more snazz than your trusty sheepskin mules. That said, if you head to Dune, they have a velvet brocade pair of loafers in black or blue (£95) that have a fluffy sheepskin-style insole. Can’t argue with that.


Click here for the fancy flats edit


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