There seems to be a relentless and terrifying epidemic of problematic boots as far as the eye can see. I see a lot of good looking boots (and, consequently, not as many Uggs!), but not great looking boots. What I hope to illustrate here is that comfortable and functional boots can still be fashionable. And what I hope to dissect is the reasons why some boots look cheap and others don't; I haven't come up with a specific golden rule to avoid this just yet. But what I HAVE deduced is that, like most things, it's all in the details. So here's a few guidelines to think about when looking for that perfect fall/winter staple:
Material is Essential: If You Can, INVEST!
Now I understand that money is almost always a factor in deciding whether or not to buy something; we all want a bargain. But with boots, there are plenty of decently priced choices out there depending on where you shop. And if you're going to buy a good pair, INVEST in one - specifically, a pair made of real leather. Not only does real leather have more longevity than fake leather, but it will almost always look better. Unless you're vegan, the most worthy investment is the real deal.
When going for a timeless pair of leather boots, I look for something like this:
This leather boot from Piperlime.com has a great shape, nice hardware, and a good-sized stacked wooden heel. And I'm a SUCKER for this widely versatile camel color. This kind of boot will last you a while, and can transition well from fall to winter, and even winter to spring.
But if the real leather is simply too expensive, there are very cheap BUT realistic looking alternatives. It just takes a good eye! Check these boots out, from Forever 21:
I think these are great for the bargain shopper that isn't looking for an extremely long-term buy but still wants in on the trend for this season. While I don't feel these are particularly timeless - the lace-up combat meets oxford look may not translate into Fall 2011 - I would definitely think these were much more expensive than they are.
The oddly textured finish and the orangey color of the fake leather looks forced. Compare it to the first picture; see the difference?
Keep it Simple - Then Add a Twist
LESS. IS. FREAKIN. MORE. Always. This is a rule of thumb in every fashion endeavor. Unless you're Lady Gaga.
Think of shoes as several different variables that can be changed: material, hardware, heel size, color, length, etc. If you're wary of making bold choices, keep all the variables simple except for one. Here's what I mean:
These are some over-the-knee boots by Versace. Most of this is basic: Flat black leather boot with a zipper up the side. So what makes it different? The length. Over-the-knee is a big trend right now, which makes these boots current.
What I DON'T mean is THIS:
Why in the world would Jimmy Choo collaborate with Ugg Australia, and somehow, create an even UGLIER Ugg counterpart? Baffles me.
Avoid the "Forced Slouch"
The forced slouch (for lack of a better term) boot is a lot like a white button down shirt collar sewn into a cable knit sweater, or a dress that appears to be separates; it's fooling us into thinking we're seeing something we're not. An illusion of sorts. Is this technique cost-effective? Certainly. But it must be done right. Shoe brands these days have a knack for doing it extremely wrong.
When I was a senior in high school in fall 2007, I had a pair of fake leather forced slouch boots from Charlotte Russe that were all the rage - to me, anyway. The key word here is 2007! in my opinion, that look is now overdone and DATED. Fashion calls for a much sleeker look these days.
The forced slouch is, of course, inspired by the REAL thing: boots that have a natural slouch. I adore these, from See by Chloe:
Please, AVOID these:
Be Cautious of Covered Leather Heels
I'll be the first to say - i LOVE the look of covered leather heels!! It seems to elongate the whole shoe and create a sort of continuity instead of a dark wooden stacked heel against a lighter color upper. However, what I've discovered the hard way is that they are extraordinarily easy to mess up!
For the practical woman, a covered heel is no good. A wood or rubber heel won't get too easily scuffed or scraped. It usually takes a while to show the wear and tear. But in a covered leather one, a simple scrape can tear away the leather exposing an unsightly plastic heel beneath it. Then comes the shoe repair, then comes continuous visits, etc.