A question that often comes up in the Who What Wear office is, “Are you more of a shoe person or a bag person?” It’s like picking between sweet and savoury or discovering you’re left or right handed. In other words, it’s almost innate. Some rare breeds (myself included) like both shoes and bags equally. I’ve always styled my outfits around my shoes, and I can easily be persuaded into a night out not by the promise of a cocktail but by the sparkle of a new rhinestone handbag.
I think this time of year is the best for shoes and handbags. There’s the back-to-school vibe of early autumn, which is a great opportunity to refresh your work wardrobe. (What boots do I have my eye on? Which bag will fit my laptop? Are loafers comfortable commuting shoes?) And then there’s also the impending party season, which we all know is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for shoe and bag lovers who can’t get enough OTT details—sequins, diamantés, feathers! And let’s not forget platforms, pointed toes and much more.
I love River Island for both of these things (shoes and bags, ICYMI), because they don’t make me pick a favourite. Their fun-loving designs are frankly irresistible to anyone with a brimming diary, and the affordable price means that (on occasion) I can get both. For autumn/winter 22, accessories are an eclectic mix of practical yet stylish pieces perfect for everyday wear (meetings, running errands, lunch dates and the like), along with some full-throttle party styles that are not only outfit makers, but also superb conversation starters. But apparently the secret’s out—Francesca Saffari, Abisola Omole and many more influencers have been recently spotted sporting some of River Island’s trophy pieces.
Be it with designer-looking bags or boots so cute they’re now top of our wish list, see how London’s fashion circle have styled some of the River Island’s best shoes and handbags for every occasion this season.
Unpopular opinion: Denim makes for the coolest partywear. If you can go out with the nonchalance of wearing jeans, you’re officially part of the style elite in my book. But the question is how do you pull off a night of dancing in denim and still look like you’ve made an effort? The answer is simple: accessories. As Francesca Saffari exemplifies, a sparkly bag and Cinderella shoes make all the difference.
When it comes to tailoring, the age-old “boardroom to bar” saying may be a cheesy one, but it is relevant. Marilyn Nwawulor-Kazemaks’s black ankle boots have a tall, skinny heel and pointed toe, which make tailored trousers and/or a blazer undeniably professional. Add a red lipstick, and this look becomes classic, elegant and sexy—perfect for post-work dinners.
Unsurprisingly, Abisola Omole’s exquisite taste for interiors extends to her impeccable accessories. Leather is huge this season, and here, she matches her timeless, black patent bag with a classic heeled boot and skirt, creating a look that’s appropriate for almost anything. Work or play, I’m here for a triple-leather moment.
Speaking of leather, Vanessa Rose Blair’s look is another example of how trousers really can be worn out out. All they need is the correct accessories. At a glance, you may not notice Vanessa’s matchy-matchy bag and shoes, but they’re both black with pearl details and silver hardware, which really elevates this ensemble. I say finish it off with a smokey, metallic eye.
Nothing is more evocative of the festive season than the soft shimmer of gold, and what I love most about Liv Blankson’s bag here is its strap. Not only does it have a top handle (so you can carry it as a heart-shaped box bag), but its crossbody strap makes it just a little bit more comfortable to carry for longer periods. As for her heels, whilst it’s not obligatory to own gold strappy sandals, it is strongly advised. I can’t think of any party outfit these shoes wouldn’t work with, be it for a summer wedding or New Year’s Eve. I consider them an investment piece.
Looking for more shoes? Find them here. Alternatively, discover River Island’s bag collection here.