Docs For Walks

Even though recently I’ve been having a lot of fun styling cute, Spring outfits – like this one – the reality is that I live in Scotland; the land of wind and horizontal rain. My Instagram feed is full of folks rocking dreamy floral dresses and while I don’t want to sound like a complete downer because yes, of course, sometimes I CAN dress like that in Scotland, but the truth is that for every day I get to leave the house with my pale, bare legs on display to the world, there are many more like today where it was very windy, intermittently heavily raining and oh, yeah, I had to walk more than six miles around the city. Some days I like to “style” outfits, but other days I pretty much just have to dress for the weather and the walking, which is why I wanted to include photos I took today in this post – because this is “real life” for me a lot of the time.

Reflection of Glasgow
urban scene with railway

Footwear has always been a bit of a (first-world) struggle for me; because you see, I don’t have adult sized feet. In the UK women’s shoes typically start in a UK size 3. My feet are a UK size 2 – and I don’t mean “oh they’re a bit smaller than a 3, like a 2 and a half”, I mean, they are barely a 2. This makes buying shoes difficult, but it makes trying to obtain ethical or sustainable shoes MUCH harder. Basically, I get by with old shoes I have left from my fast fashion days, thrifted kids’ Converse, and with size 3 boots sometimes I can thrift them and just use insoles, and wear extra socks and make it work, but obviously, that’s not great for when I’m going to be walking miles in a day.

I’ve wanted a pair of Dr. Martens for literally, years. They’re very much my aesthetic, plus their reputation for quality and durability is outstanding. I wanted them to be my walking-around-the-city shoes; shoes that I could put on rain or shine, with a whole bunch of outfits for days when I just need to basically not worry about my feet. After I learned that Dr Martens don’t have the best ethics, I figured I would buy a pair second hand instead (plus, bonus – CHEAPER), but after trying on several pairs of size 3’s (the smallest adult size) second hand, it became clear that they were just too big and that they would rub and slide and not be the comfortable, reliable shoe option I needed them to be. So, I combed the charity shop childrens’ shoe sections for months, and I stalked eBay as often as I remembered to, but ultimately, every listing I saw was just too imperfect. If I managed to find a pair on eBay that was my size (and a style I liked) then inevitably they were very, very scuffed – I think with being kids’ shoes they probably had a harder life than a lot of adult shoes! Had I found them in a charity shop for not-very-much-money and been able to look them over myself it might have been different, but the ones on eBay weren’t going super cheap and frankly a lot of the photos were vague/blurred, so I wasn’t happy to gamble the money on something I really wanted to last me a long, long time and risk them being in a bad way when they arrived.

 

bare trees with a rainy sky behind them

 

Dr Martens in a puddle
chainlink fence with some weeds growing in front of it

On a whim one day I checked the Dr Martens website and saw they had a sale on (which, because I hadn’t planned to buy new from them, I hadn’t been checking for), and on closer inspection I found a pair, in my size (in the kids’ range) for £35. They’re canvas, but the canvas is really thick and “waterproofy” feeling, not like the canvas of Converse hi-tops. The floral print on them wasn’t something I originally thought I’d go for, until I started to consider the fact that most days if I’m out walking loads I’m wearing my rain jacket (because it’s Scotland, it is going to rain at some point) which is black, and usually I wear it with black.. so maybe some cheery shoes wouldn’t be such a bad idea? Money wise, it wasn’t a great time to be buying shoes (even if they were a bargain) but Kenny and I reasoned that having sturdy, comfy shoes would encourage me to walk more and use the subway less, so in time, they would help save money as well as keep me healthier.

reflection of Dr Martens as seen in the Riverside Museum building window
chainlink fence and some lorry containers, urban scene
photo of me, in my raincoat and scarf

I think this purchase has also helped teach me a valuable lesson about shopping ethically: you can only do the best you can do in a certain situation, and that’s ok. Ultimately, I wish I could have found a pair second hand, but after months of looking (and quite a lot of blisters on my feet in the meantime), I couldn’t hold out any longer. I wish I had been able to buy shoes from a truly ethical and sustainable brand – but so few make shoes down to my size, and of the ones that do many of the designs are childish (I mean, they ARE kids’ shoes to be fair), or priced way above my means at the moment, and so I did the best I could. I bought a pair of shoes in a style and pattern that I love and feel safe that I will love for years to come, I bought them in a non-leather material, and I bought them from a company that is known for making long-wearing shoes, so while this might not have been the most ethical purchase of walking shoes, it should at least be my only purchase of walking shoes for a LONG time, and that’s something too.

selfie captured using the reflection in the Riverside Museum building
urban scene featuring city street-lights and lamp-posts

Do you have a go-to pair of shoes that you always know you can walk miles in? Do you have any suggestions for ethical, small-sized shoes for me to look at in the future? Have you owned a pair of Dr Martens? How well did they last?

 

Stripes, Stripes and Sneakers

Overview of an outfit where I've combined a shirt and a blazer with casual sneakers.

I’ve always loved the combination of sneakers with blazers… on other people. Historically, every time I’ve tried to combine heels with yoga pants, or a workout vest with tailored trousers I’ve always just felt like I was in a mad rush leaving the gym and got caught somewhere in between looks. Athleisure is a cool trend, but not one I’ve ever felt comfortable in.

Still, a desire for comfortable feet without wearing a whole outfit looking like I’m off to run a 5K has led me to experiment with the classic sneakers and blazers look once again – and finally, I think I’m getting somewhere.

close up of the top half of the outfit, showing the shirt, blazer and bag
extreme close up of the shirt collar, also showing my necklaces.
black jeans, grey blazer, blue striped shirt and sneakers.

 

 THE OUTFIT

// the grey blazer (thrifted)
I think this blazer is playing a big part in making this look feel comfortable for me. It’s a very soft, cotton material which gives it a much more relaxed feel than some of the more tailored, black blazers I own. I also love that the lining of this is a grey and white stripe which is on display when I roll the sleeves up (which I basically always do). In particular with this outfit I love that the sleeve stripes run the opposite way from the stripes on the shirt sleeves which are visible underneath.
 
// the striped, button down shirt (thrifted)
While I’m definitely getting more into button-downs in general just now, I think it was definitely this shirt that kicked that off for me. Honestly, this was really the first fitted shirt I ever wore that didn’t feel like a “school shirt” to me. Again, I think the soft cotton fabric has a lot to do with this, as well as the blue pinstripe, which I just find so inspiring – it’s one of those pieces I can see myself wearing in every season.

// black, leather cross-body bag (thrifted)
This was a more recent charity-shop find for me. It was spooky actually, I had it in my head that I was looking for a compact, black cross-body bag (with a good closure) that I could use for everyday errand running and such, then, lo and behold, in the second store I went into, I found this! It pretty much perfectly met my criteria and I’ve worn it basically everyday since. I love that there’s something slightly 90’s mom about it – especially with this outfit somehow.

// black skinny jeans (birthday gift – they’re Molly jeggings from River Island)
I decided that, as a general rule, I wasn’t going to mention fast-fashion brands that I still own pieces from, or announce where thrifted items are “originally” from, because I don’t really want to advertise these brands, however, I wanted to share a note about these jeans for readers who do still shop at River Island. My sister and I are long time Molly jegging fans; they’re the only black jeans we’ve worn since about 2013 and we’ve each owned a few pairs in that time and worn them to death. This most recent pair, which was a gift from my sister who also bought herself a pair at the same time, are terrible. The fabric is already fading noticeably, they’re also pilling across the thighs and the dye transfer has been crazy – even after a few washes. My sister has had the exact same experience as I have. So, I just wanted to put a note up, because taking aside the ethics of River Island, these did used to be a high quality product, and while I wouldn’t have been buying another pair anyway, this massive drop in quality is such a huge turn-off.

// black low-top Converse (thrifted)
A rather epic charity-shop find if I do say so myself! I’ve pretty much lived in Converse trainers since about the age of 13 and have been very relieved to find that they’re easily available second hand, meaning I don’t have to quit my Chuck Taylor habit any time soon. I opted for this pair to wear with a blazer as I think them being black makes it easier (for a novice like me) than if I’d worn my pink or leopard print pair. This particular pair are a real staple for me, except for the fact that they come down very low at my ankle, meaning that I have to wear those strange teeny-tiny sock things with them as opposed to regular ankle or sneaker-socks – which is a bit of a pain!
close up of black, low-top Converse
close up showing the contrast created by the blazer lining and the shirt sleeve.
overview of most of the outfit in a more casual pose.
walking shot of the full outfit
close up photo showing the bag in detail