How to wear... the knee-high boot
Make your summer midi dresses and skirts last longer — and shield your legs from the cold — with this winter’s most in-demand footwear, writes Meadhbh McGrath
For many years, the ankle boot reigned supreme as king of winter footwear. It was flattering, comfortable and easy to style, and while the knee-high boot always has its fans, it's been a while since it really had a moment.
But the knee boot has gradually crept back into fashion with the return of the slouch boot to the catwalks and the industry's embrace of the 70s. And this year, the knee-high boot is the MVP, a key piece for prolonging the life of your summer dresses and adding polish to all of your winter outfits.
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Celine's collection looks to be the most influential of the season, from the waist belts we covered last week to the culottes (which we'll feature next Thursday), to the glossy heeled boots. They came in shades of tan, black, burgundy and cognac, with knee-high and over-the-knee shapes in smooth calfskin with chunky heels or shearling-lined with wedges.
The more classic style is most relevant for our purposes, teamed with tweed culottes, a silk blouse and a single-breasted blazer. The look was grown-up and very smart, with all of the Parisian insouciance the French fashion house is known for.
Salvatore Ferragamo's luxurious leather pairs came with angular heels and a slouchy silhouette, rendered in black, white, scarlet and plum, and peeking out from beneath a creamy cashmere fleece coat or a pinstripe skirt.
And at Victoria Beckham, there were fitted stretch-leather boots in olive, electric blue and fire-engine red, many of them with a surprising open-toe design, as seen on Beckham herself. The peep-toe styles were polarising, but the snug, legging-like fit is elegant and a bit sexy, worn underneath midi dresses and skirts or checked capes.
The fit is often the biggest problem when considering a knee-high boot. If you're short, you don't want half your leg getting swallowed up by a boot, so make sure the top of the boot hits you under your knee rather than in the middle of it. Online, some sites will give the shaft height (the measurement from the bottom of your foot to the top of the boot), but in this case, you're usually better off checking it out in person. For petite figures, a bit of a heel can help give you a further boost too.
Calf width can pose problems as well. If the boot is too baggy, a decent cobbler can take them in for you, but many with curvier calves will find the standard shop size is too snug. Turn to brands that offer a wide fit, such as SimplyBe, Next, River Island and New Look. Many styles also come with a stretchy elasticated back panel for more comfortable wear. Try this season's block or cone heels for a leg-lengthening effect.
In the 90s and early 2000s, the hottest way to wear knee boots involved frantically shoving your jeans or trousers in, rarely a seamless or pleasant experience. If you do want to tuck trousers in, the street style stars are going for a looser silhouette, but we suggest the safer route of midi-length skirts and dresses.
They bring a refined touch to even the simplest outfit, and can winterise summer pieces too. If you're still holding off on the opaque tights, as we are, knee boots can bridge the gap, providing more coverage without resorting to the dreaded hosiery just yet. Look to Zendaya in polka-dot midi with black boots, an effortless autumnal outfit.
And once it really gets cold, a pair of knee-high boots will provide that extra warmth that ankle boots just can't muster. See Bella Hadid, looking super-chic yet also like she could feasibly survive a hailstorm in a patent trench coat and matching boots. From your commute to a night on the town, these versatile boots are sure to stay in heavy rotation in your winter wardrobe.