Written by Ali Straka Friday, October 15 2010
Boots are a must-have wardrobe staple for autumn and winter’s chilly weather, lush palette, and layered aesthetic. Boots are versatile footwear available in a wide array of styles, colors, and materials, so there’s an option to suit every wardrobe, every budget, and every workplace.
What’s appropriate for your office? Before you head to the shoe department in search of some fall booties, consider what’s appropriate for your workplace. Is the environment relaxed or buttoned up? Are jeans worn daily, reserved for casual Fridays, or strictly prohibited? Considering the dress code and formality of your office before you hit the stores is essential.
Now, which boots to wear? Once you gauge what would be appropriate for your office, it’s time to think about the styles you like and the ones that best suit your wardrobe.
Booties: Booties are a hybrid of a pump and a boot. Booties are low-cut boots that hit below the ankles or at the ankles. Typically, they have heels. Booties are an easy swap for pumps because they have a similar look, fit, and cut, but they’re less expected and, therefore, more interesting. If you wear basic black pumps every day, switch those beloved heels out for booties; that small alteration will noticeably change up your look.
Knee: Tall boots that hit at or just below the knee are the most common and the most versatile for chillier seasons. Knee-high boots come in a variety of heel heights, a plethora of materials – like leather, suede, or stretch fabrics – and every color under the sun. Which boots you like comes down to what works for your office, what coordinates with your clothes, what feels comfortable, and, last but not least, what attracts your eye.
Over-the-knee: Thigh-high boots that hit above the knee have never been hotter. They were a prominent trend on designer runways and can now be found in every mainstream store. No longer are they reserved for ladies of the night (Pretty Woman, anyone?), but rather are wearable for every woman. But while they’re trendy, it’s important to take into consideration whether they’re appropriate for work. They can look dramatic, and if produced in a cheap fabric with poor construction they can look tacky. If you want to try them out, but are nervous about the hooker factor, stick to styles that are flat, slim fitting along the shaft, and in a conservative, neutral material.
Stumped on where to start? Two styles that will get you through fall and winter for years to come are neutral pairs of knee-high boots and low-cut booties, ideally in black and brown leather or suede. Remember not to get too trendy with your look. For fall, designers showed lots of boots with lace-ups, cutouts, and embellishments. Those touches make for interesting footwear, but they may be more fitting for Saturday night out with your girlfriends than Tuesday morning meetings. Consider comfort. You want to look sharp at work, but in the end, comfort trumps fashion. If you’re uncomfortable all day, you won’t feel confident or focused. Take this into consideration when deciding to wear heels vs. flats.
Finally, how to wear those boots? You’ve determined what’s appropriate for your office, bought some killer boots, and now you’re ready to rock them to work.
Here’s how to style your new shoes:
Utilize tights: Whether you’re wearing booties, knee-high, or over-the-knee boots, hosiery is your best friend. Enhance skirts and dresses with patterned tights and neutral tall boots, or slim the look of your legs with opaque tights and booties in the same hue. If you wear patterned tights, keep the shoes basic, whereas if you stick to basic sheer or opaque hosiery, you can play with more attention-getting footwear. It’s all about balance.
Tuck your pants: Tucking pants into boots is easy and makes you look instantly polished; it’s a win-win. Stick to pants with a skinny or straight cut, and tuck them into tall boots with a minimum height of mid-calf. This is a versatile look that works with flat, kitten heel, or stiletto boots. But don’t try this look with trousers or pants that aren’t slim-cut. It will look sloppy and unflattering.
Show some leg: Along with tights, showing bare legs was a noticeable trend on the fall runways. If you’re not too chilly, it’s not inappropriate for your office, and you want to show some skin, don’t be afraid to go bare.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is the importance to stay professional. Wearing boots to work does not mean an excuse to wear sheepskin or rain boots. Every choice you make about your work wardrobe should enhance your confidence, make you look great to others, and draw attention for the right reasons.
Ali Straka is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She majored in magazine journalism with a minor in textile and apparel management. She used her experience as a college student to contribute to developing products from University Chic in addition to writing regularly for the site. In her free time, Ali muses about fashion, interior design, and all things pop culture on her blog According to Ali. She hails from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago.