I need formal shoes as I don’t want to wear heels right now. I saw some slides/mules at the beginning of the year and I’m kicking myself for not buying them. They were flat, which is good since I’m pregnant, with a silky fabric on the front, and open at the back. Do you have anything similar to recommend?
Let it Slide, Pok Fu Lam

The Dictator: Finally! An opportunity to discuss the difference between slides and mules, terms that have been used infuriatingly interchange­ably for months. Slides are open-toed, backless flats. Mules tend to have closed toes, and their heel heights range from low to verti­ginous. The latter, I suspect, is what you’re after.

Manolo Blahnik channels retro chic with its court shoe-inspired Hangisi flat mule. The pointy-toed upper is covered in silk blend satin in fuchsia, green, grey and black among other colours, and has the signature square, Swarovski crystal buckle (HK$8,745). René Caovilla has covered his in all-over crystals (HK$8,800; Lane Crawford). We also love Mercedes Castillo’s Malou leather mules with petal pom poms (HK$3,890).

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Ferragamo keeps its version relatively plain in various unembellished hues of satin or with the brand’s famous bow (HK$3,950 to HK$6,950). You might also like Zyne, which takes inspiration from Moroccan babouche slippers, then adds crystals, beading or fringe to fabulous effect (HK$3,850 to HK$5,400; Lane Crawford).

Finally, I feel it is my responsi­bility to point out that many women continue to wear heels during pregnancy, and that some leather-soled flats can be treacherously slippery. If safety is a deciding factor, then choose wisely, or visit your cobbler for non-slip soles.


I keep seeing round straw bags everywhere. Am I missing out on a new must-have brand?
See You Around, Sheung Wan

The Dictator rules: Funny, that would turn me right off them. I spend so much time explaining how to hone your own sense of style, but questions like yours make me wonder why I bother.

At the high end, you can’t do much better than Loeffler Randall’s straw circle tote with pom poms and tassels in natural or blush pink raffia (HK$2,315). Cult Gaia, the brand behind the Ark bag craze, has many circles this season including the Stella rattan and raffia bag (HK$1,875; Net-a-Porter). We’re loving the supersized style, such as Zara’s large round tote in natural coloured jute with a black tassel on the handle (HK$449).

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Pull&Bear has a natural straw version for budget shoppers (HK$199). Other designers have been adding a distinctive touch to their round straw bags. Rebecca Minkoff’s tote comes with a circular pattern of either natural and black straw, or pink, black and natural with removable tassels, leather handles and detachable leather shoulder straps (HK$1,662 each). J Crew has three versions with long, non-removable shoulder straps in tan leather (HK$1,180 each): plain straw with blue and white striped handles; rainbow striped handles and large multicoloured pom poms; or colour blocks of natural, white and pink that look enticingly like Neapolitan ice cream.

You could also order a monogrammed round straw tote bag by Maud Fourier Paris with your choice of letter on the front (HK$692; anthropologie.com). I’m assuming you don’t mean the hard rattan bags often associated with Bali holidays. Oh, wait, maybe you don’t know any better. Go to enjoylifebali.com (HK$169 and up), or make a holiday of it and fly there.