Reader Q&A: Fall Boots?
Happy to help, Rose! I've been drafting a post on Ugg alternatives for those of us who are always freezing, and I'll include some of that here. But you are a New Yorker with a great sense of style so I won't fill this up with the sad tales of those of us who rely on a whole string of Superfeet to keep us upright. I've included a few pictures and TONS of links of various price point boots for you to click through and see what you like. If you want to skip the post and find the coolest boots? Visit Pikolinos for the $200 range or Nordstrom's for a mix of prices.
Oh! For those of you interested, this is the type of email you'd get from me suited to your personal style if you book me for online personal styling. Just sayin'.
Here are three questions I'd like you to think about before you buy boots this fall:
What do you normally wear in the fall and winter?
Skirts & Dresses and/or Skinny Pants: Whether it's a skirt with tights (or bare legs for a few more weeks!) or skinny jeans, this category is all the same. You're going to have an ankle that's slimmer than your calf. It will be descending into a boot, either from the knee or at the ankle. This gives you the most variety to choose from, including tall boots, over-the-knees, adorable fold over leather booties, stacked heels, and moto boots- I love ones with a buckle or a really wild pattern. Moto boots are the most versatile in my mind, and I'm in love with them. Like these.
I like knee-high boots that have some personality and visual interest like the ones above with ties, buckles, studs, something! (Similar and cheaper here). Otherwise if you have so much shiny leather like these, that can in my mind look a bit like a pirate. I prefer suede, like these Torrid boots. Two types of leather can also make a pair of boots amazing, like these wide calf beauties!
Wide-legged Pants: If you typically wear a wider leg like a trouser or boot cut jeans or a true wide leg, you'll have different needs than someone who tends to wear skirts, skinnies, leggings, etc. In this case, pay more attention to what the toe and heel of the boot (love these!) look like since that will be all that shows.
Or what about cowboy boots with a great toe? Wear the pants you wear most and try them on together at the store. You can get away with any length boot up the leg (or not) with wider leg pants.
How much warmth do you need? How much do you walk?
A lot of warmth: if these are to be your work horse, trudging through Central Park in the slush and rain and worse, then you have a specific set of needs. However! These do not have to be hideous! Plenty of stores sell waterproof and warm boots that you won't want to rip off your feet the moment you get inside wherever you're going, like these stylish but still waterproof boots from Nordstrom or these riding boots or wedges by long-time winter favorite Sorel of all people! Oh-please go look at Sorel's selection on Zappos-when did they get so cute?! Look at these! I might have to do an entire post on winter boots for real cold weather.
Back to boots for fall. If you buy something that's not real leather (like below with the faux suede), save yourself the heartache and just buy the waterproofing spray and put it on immediately. You might also consider Hunter boots if you are walking in slush and rain a lot and then plan to change into different shoes once you get to work. Be sure to buy those inserts so that they are warm enough! Need rain boots but not the height? Love these.
Not much warmth: Ok, most of the boots I'll post here fall into this category since Rose lives in NYC. Think about the usual things like will you have room for socks if you need to wear these with a bit more warmth on some days. I typically have a pair (or two) that I wear without a big sock and just with tights or thinner sock and then a pair that I know I can layer up with a smart wool or something thick.
A lot of walking: When I lived in NYC, I walked so much. Same with Chicago. And yes, staying cute and warm and not killing your feet is a feat. (Har har). So look for the obvious things like flats versus stacked heels but also for secret terrible things like seams that rub on your toes or calves. Consider a company like Keen and keep an eye out for their more stylish boots like these.
I'm going to suggest something here that we children of the 90s will cringe at: combat boots. Yes, they're back in style. As my thirteen-year-old clients said the other weekend when I took them shopping: they're "rad." Yes, that word is back, too. But! These are not (just) the exact Doc Martins you remember of yore, and many are much more comfortable! Consider a lace up boot with a rugged sole if you're walking a lot because that's all a combat boot is in 2014. Even Timberland makes some rad boots.
Over-the-knee boots have always rubbed the backs of my knees, and for me they wouldn't be a good option in a city where you walk a lot. Maybe since you're taller that wouldn't be an issue for you? They are going to be a bigger investment because there's just more material to charge for. I'd be sure to try these on over jeans and/or tights. I don't love the way these look because I think they can make everyone look very short. However, with dark pants that kind of blend into them, I think it's a sexy look for sure. Maybe something like this flat Sam Edelman would work and not cost $600?
Also Bear Traps has some nice study soled boots that are also cute and could work with skirts and tights like these and these.
A lot of standing: Whether you're like Rose and work in the restaurant industry or are a mom on your feet a lot or work at a standing desk all day, it's a good idea to think about the soles of your boots and their comfort factor.
I really subscribe to the idea of testing out your boots on carpet for as long as you can before committing to wearing them outside. In the past, I've actually found that wedge boots are very comfortable for me when standing for long periods of time, much more than heels, and sometimes more than flats-although I love these plaids! There can be more cushion in a wedge than just a flat. Boden, of course, makes adorable wedges as does Modcloth and Lands End!
Also, consider brands known for comfort like Easy Spirit, Clarks or Naturalizer-look at how cute these with a wide shaft are! These lines have way cuter shoes than you might expect. And did you know that you can search Zappos by wide shaft, wide shoes, narrow shoes, etc?
Not much walking: These are the special event boots that you might wear now and then. I don't subscribe to spending a ton on these kinds of boots, frankly, because they are a special item.
I'd think about something that you can wear and feel special, but also something that isn't so trendy that you won't wear it again next year. I like even my special footwear to last more than a single season.
I'm talking about these animal print booties, these sexy black ones with the zippers, crazy lizard cut outs, and stacked heels with cut outs (below). All gorgeous-and mostly for wearing indoors.
You may have noticed that I prefer colors other than black; I think the leather (or fake leather especially) looks better, but that's just my preference. Black is a nice stand-by. Have fun and let me know what you decide to go with!