How to wear... the hiker boot
Scale the heights of style in this season's most comfortable footwear trend, writes Meadhbh McGrath
Fashion's love affair with sportswear continues apace, but this season, designers are bringing us something fresh. Amidst all the spectacularly ugly trainers and neon hoodie-dresses, there was a piece that was a little more wearable - the hiking boot.
The last couple of years have seen a major boom in hiking, from celebrities hitting the trails in LA's Runyon Canyon to Miuccia Prada embracing all things outdoors for her catwalk collections.
The best part about autumn's hiking boots is that there's something for everyone. If you can't get enough of the ugly shoe trend, look to Gucci, where clompy Flashtrek boots come with oversized rubber soles and crystal embellishment.
If you prefer a more minimal look, take your cue from Swedish favourite Acne Studios and their cool, contemporary Puffy booties with contrasting coral tractor soles. If you like traditional with a twist, draw inspiration from label-of-the-moment Off-White, whose collaboration with Timberland has reinvigorated the classic boots in unlikely velvet.
And if you're more urban jungle than great outdoors, consider the boots from Proenza Schouler, who put a typical city-chic spin on the style in crisp monochrome, which can be paired with straight jeans, pleated midis or check suiting.
It's a surprisingly versatile boot, not to mention a comfortable one. These boots may not be designed for any serious trekking, but fashionistas will be breathing a sigh of relief that they don't have to try to pull off (or pull on) thigh-high leather boots or keep a pair of optic white ankle boots clean in the rain.
The downside with some of these styles is they can be heavy and unwieldy, with soles that weigh you down rather than allow you to spring into action. So take care when shopping to find a lightweight pair that will help you stay grounded without tiring your feet. Certain styles can take a bit of time to break in - we'd advise doubling up on your socks and keeping blister plasters handy for the first few wears.
The most popular colours are solid black, brown and tan, with a flash of winter white thrown in. You can get creative with your laces, though - a burst of colour will add a playful touch when marching about town, and a shot of hot pink or electric blue will keep your outfit modern (and avoid the look coming across as too literal).
When you're going for a utilitarian boot, allow your footwear to toughen up the rest of your wardrobe. Hiking boots are the perfect foil for a floaty dress, like M&S's tie-neck midi. The length swishes to the mid-calf, exposing just a couple of inches of skin above the boots and offering a cool contrast to the grit of the chunky sole.
That clumpy silhouette is ideal for grounding a statement coat, such as the Kooples' gorgeous tartan number.
A dainty shoe would create an underwhelming lower half and take all the wind out of your sails, but these boots will balance out the proportions nicely.
For evening, ditch your heels for an all-weather, all-terrain alternative. It's a delightfully unexpected choice for a silky jumpsuit or slip dress, and will temper loud sequins or pretty florals.
There's even a case to be made for hiking boots as appropriate workwear. If you opt for a sleeker style like Zara's polished black pair, they will give slouchy trouser suits an edge that boring old courts just can't match, while looking smarter than trainers.
When finishing off the look, contrast is key for accessories, too. The boots add enough heft to an outfit that a great big tote bag will only drag down your look - instead, opt for something a little more delicate, and don't be afraid to flirt with pop pieces like colourful faux fur or this season's 'It' beaded bags.