French Sole (or London Sole, as it is known in the US) is a go-to brand for the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as her sister, Pippa Middleton. There’s an even older royal connection to the brand too, as Diana, Princess of Wales, was known to be a fan of the simple ballet shoes. These chic slip ons are now a firm fashion staple in the UK, and have been for many years, with no sign of their popularity diminishing.
After her wedding, the Duchess was spotted wearing a pair of French Soles in the India style, in a brown mock crocodile patent colour. Pippa Middleton has also been seen wearing a pair of grey suede flats with a blue glitter heart, produced in collaboration with Beulah, as well as brown Gladiator sandals, and ballerina shoes from the brand in both beige/nude and red.
There are a couple of French Sole stores in London, but the one that the Duchess of Cambridge may well have visited on occasion was the branch on King’s Road, as it’s near a couple of other stores and cafes that she has been known to frequent! If you want to take a trip there, you face a pretty long walk from Sloane Street or a shorter one from Kensington, which then takes you along Fulham Road.
This will take you past an Amanda Wakeley store, which as we know, is a brand that has provided a few of the Duchess’ beautiful dresses. But, there’s another link here too, as Princess Diana also used to frequent this store, and it was Amanda Wakeley herself who first encouraged Jane Winkworth, the founder of French Sole, to bring some of her designs to show the Princess. (Apparently she bought 12 pairs!)
The Bluebird Cafe is just across the road from French Sole’s boutique in Chelsea, and the Middleton women have been spotted eating here many times – definitely a place to go if you’re in the area!
The French Sole shop may seem small, but don’t be put off by its bijoux appearance – this is their largest store, and has a formidable stock room and plenty of styles and gorgeous colours to choose from! Jane Winkworth has said in previous interviews that the Duchess favours Henriettas, but there are a variety of different ballerina style shoes which vary in the vamp (how much ‘toe cleavage’ is on show), toe point, width, and other small yet vital ways.
The brand has a couple of sales every year, when their current range is marked down in price, but generally you can expect to pay £65 to £200 for a pair of flats. You can also find boots, moochers, sandals and smoking slippers in the range, depending on the time of year.
The store is a celebrity haunt, and has been visited by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, as well as Claudia Schiffer, Yasmin le Bon and others.
Once you’ve finished trying on pair after pair of beautiful shoes, you might want to take a walk further down King’s Road, where an LK Bennett clearance store lurks – and very often has styles reduced which have been seen previously on the Duchess, usually in different colourways!