The other week when I had no internet all day, I decided to put my time to good use and photograph something for the blog. I'd really wanted to write a post on all the different box patterns Irregular Choice have ever produced, because I *think* I have them all. However the way we've had to move my shoes into the shoe room, it's been in dribs and drabs and the boxes have been packed away in groups up to the attic, so that's never been possible, which is a pity. So instead, I thought I'd photograph the soles.
If you haven't bought or seen Irregular Choice shoes before, you'll think that's a bit strange. However the soles are covered in pretty patterns or pictures, usually cute enough to rival the uppers and there's real excitement each season to see the new designs. Back in the day, the soles and boxes weren't changed as regularly as each season and often the soles didn't match the box. Nowadays we tend to get at least two new prints each year (Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter) and the boxes usually mirror the soles. I had no idea how physically demanding this 'little exercise' would be, I was literally shaking by the time I'd finished checking I had one of each to photograph and transferring them into another room. It's a hard thing to capture too, because the shoes (or boots) don't sit well (obviously) the wrong way round, but I managed to get around this by photographing in groups, though this photo just about captures each one I currently own. I also wasn't sure how squeamish you might be about seeing close-up photos of used soles. I'm not one for protecting them, I believe they are intended to be loved and worn, so they do show signs of wear.
Ok, so let's start with this photo which includes the new AW15 forest animal sole, a particular favourite of mine. Alongside that is a large unicorn, another favourite as I loved that illustration. I did struggle a little to wear these for fear of ruining the image. Next to that are Sky Fox, which unusually had the same print on the sole and uppers (there's another pair to follow), so you get this amazing all-round unicorn mania happening, it's brilliant! Then we have a striped sole with decorated, carousel type bunnies.
Animals feature heavily in sole designs, if you haven't guessed. Starting from the left, we have circus, parachuting (?) pandas on a purple base with a larger one in the centre. The next one has floral heart wreaths, flowers, adorable elephants and a cockatoo sitting on a branch. The red ones feature penguins in fluffy hats sitting on top of giant cupcakes with ice creams, diamonds and snowflakes floating around (naturally)! Bunnies in teapots coordinated with a typically 'Alice In Wonderland' style box with a blue haired girl dressed in bunny ears. Then we have gold metallic with a large bear, rather subdued considering the previous descriptions!
These animals were slightly less obvious, hidden in the surrounding patterns. A galactical griffin, mirror image of peacocks, frog, which I think I only have one of and a fancy bird of paradise.
On the right, we have my other Sky Fox sandal, this time in black with ice-cream and flying cupcakes print. In the centre are the doll house soles for the London College of Fashion collaboration, which weren't produced in huge numbers. All the styles featured the same soles, I have both the So Yeon Sarah and Rosy. Next to that is a lovely pixie garden scene-my Auntie loves these (she still talks about them, years on).
My poodle boots on the left show one of the much older designs, pink Astro Boy. My dentist is always disappointed if I wear these blue soles, because the image is harder to work out. It's the silhouette of someone standing with a whip. I can see how it could be easily mistaken for someone peeing!! These are good examples of styles that didn't come with matching boxes. Next to that are the cuckoo clock soles which did come in an identical box (both of which I seem to have oodles of) and then the blue robot soles. You find some styles wear better than others, I think the robot wear away really quickly, these were the most intact pair I could find.
Sometimes you don't get animals, birds or people, you just get pretty patterns. There's igloos and mountains on the blue pair (2nd from left) and you'll probably recognise the floral pair on the end with little insects as they are still in circulation today (though did have their own season back in the day). Nowadays, they are usually found on the Iconic or wedding styles and might even come with the matching box. The roses next to that are again a style I think I only have one or two of.
A lot of my favourites are in this next group. Betty the mermaid on the seahorse were the pair I most struggled with wearing. I absolutely adore that design (it came on the box too), so I made sure to take 'memento' photos before wearing them. The gingham one next to that is hard to see, but there's beautiful fairies on the flowers. I really liked that one, but all my shoes that have them are well worn! I think I might only have the cowgirl on Flopsy...or maybe one more pair, it's very cute. Next to that is the older Mabel Lucie Atwell style girl on the phone. Then the red soles I have a love/hate relationship with. The picture and poem go together, but most people mistake the poem for a price sticker. It's the colouring and position, but it's really annoying! It reads,
The Princess Lost Her Shoe
doodle doodle do
The Princess lost her shoe
Her Highness hopped, the fiddler stopped,
not knowing what to do.
You might note her 'lost' shoe has fallen down, next to where the shoe size is. The blue soles feature an adorable little Russian style girl holding a basket of flowers, there are bunnies and toadstools in the background print. The one on the end is another favourite of mine, look how cute she is! I have lots of these and the matching boxes.
Now I have my special editions, which are variations of each other. The first two are from the Gold Star collection and feature stars as a background print with a large gold star above the kissing couple. The other two are from the Dan Sullivan collection and feature floral backgrounds with a heart above the couple. The boxes were a black and white version. I think it's really sweet because they hark back to a really old style, which I've photographed below. I no longer have these shoes, but rather conveniently took a photo of the sole!
Which leads me onto the Blythe collection. Unusually the soles varied in this range. You can see I have four different styles here. The Dice boots came with a plain red sole which was a bit of a shocker, after the colourful patterns previously. They just have Hasbro/Blythe written on them. The striped pair with bows, I happened to have a close-up of and coincidentally the girl above has a bow in her hair with cherries hanging from it. The green pair say Blythe by Irregular Choice then at the end we have a bow across a floral pattern, which again unusually featured on non-Blythe shoes too (my leopard print Edna for example).
Heatherette also featured many different soles, because they mostly matched the uppers. Bones, flowers, letters and Kitten that I also have, did have a leopard print sole but were also released with a regular one, which mine had (the pale blue elephant one).
I think that's it for the ones I currently own, which I count at 42, but I can think of some I used to own, but now don't (like the pink ones I showed you). There were green soles with a sort of teardrop print in darker green, which I couldn't find an old photo of. You can just see them in the Hypolita image I posted to Instagram this week. These green dollies below, are another harder to find style. I'm sorry the photo isn't better quality, I only had this one image and it wasn't very large (it has "hand painted" written on it). My old Florence lace ups featured a stunning leopard print sole with cute little animal (I used to nickname it 'gak'), I managed to find an old photo (below). I can think of red Maneki-neko lucky cat soles that I've never had and obviously the other Heatherette. Oh, my Blythe Chini copper wedges were plain I think or similar to the green ones. You've also had things like the textured rubber sole on The Beast and Toad In The Hole boots, which are not pretty to look at, so I didn't bother to photograph. Sometimes boots or trainers do come with rubber soles. I also used to have a wooden pair of mules with textured sole but a floral pattern cut into it in different colours.
As you can imagine it was a rather big and daunting task to photograph this lot, but I'm happy to take close up photos if you would like to see a particular one in more detail, though most of the recent (ish) ones I've photographed in the original haul posts (and they are unworn so look better). Like I say, for the most part I'm happy wearing them, perhaps that confidence or freedom comes from owning so many. The mermaids and unicorns were definitely the two I was a little apprehensive about, but I'm one of these people that can let something go so long as I have a good photo of it, so I made sure to photograph them before wearing. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking the soles and boxes are part of the charm of Irregular Choice, though I wouldn't go as far as buying a pair I wasn't keen on, just to get a new sole! I thought my next mission could be to photograph the insoles? There's probably even more variety there though and it's not as simple as all mermaid soles have the same lining and so on, they can vary within each season or things like the crushed velvet seemed to go on for years! Do you recognise some/most of these, which is your favourite?