SHANE WATSON on the return of the statement accessory

SHANE WATSON on the return of the statement accessory

Finally! trainers get the boot! And handbags get dusted off, too —SHANE WATSON on the return of the statement accessory

  • Shane Watson shares advice for embracing the boots trend throughout autumn
  • UK-based fashion expert says ankle boots go with pretty much everything
  • Reveals John Lewis has collaborated with Erica Davies for a range of long boots 

Women! Don’t we love a boot? I bet we can all remember buying our first pair and how it felt wearing them in the shop (Transforming! Subversive! Adult!), a thrill barely dented by knowing that, once home, there would be some explaining to do.

Boots can still make your heart race, but for me there’s a small catch. As much as I believe knee boots to be the pinnacle of footwear, as much as I get to this point of the year, every year, and think ‘Boots! Bring Them On!’, knee boots are not the easiest to thing to wear.

Ankle boots are easy, which is why, like most of us, I’ve lived in short boots for more than a decade. They don’t require the same commitment, they only have to fit your feet not your calves, they go with pretty much everything, and they work throughout the year, so they’re not going anywhere.

Left: Jumper, £325, theoutnet.com; dress, £135, jigsaw-online.com; boots, £195, dunelondon.com; bag, £395, uk.coach.com; rings, £12.99 and £27.99, pilgrim.net. Right: Skirt, £130, jigsaw-online.com; boots, £149, sosandar. com; bag, £345, cnicol.com

Your ankle boots still work, especially the super-chunky lug-soled variety like the ones above. But knee boots are, for the first time in a while, looking like they might be a fresh alternative.

First of all — in keeping with our new hard-headed attitude to fashion — the post-Covid tall boot is much more wearable. It can be high-heeled, and plenty are, but lower heels — from flat as a slice of toast to 1 ½ in or so — are the fashion sweet spot.

In previous years, knee boots with lower heels always looked a bit frumpy. Not so now. There’s no one type of heel: there are conical ones and kittens, Cuban heels and those floor-ruining nibs. But, you’ll be pleased to hear, solid and medium-height scores as high on fashion points as towering — arguably more.

Even better news, these boots are not just more practical, they’re more accessible. John Lewis, for example, has collaborated with former fashion editor Erica Davies to create a range of wider fitting long boots for all of us who have struggled to get regular boots zipped up (available from October 5).

A neat almond toe and maybe a colour are what’s going to make longer dresses look new for winter. (If you do decide to err on the side of caution and go for black, brown or taupe, then you’ll have all the more reason to get yourself a dazzler of a bag in frog green mock crocodile or peacock blue).

Left : Jumper, £99, jigsaw-online.com; skirt, £29.99, tkmaxx.com; boots, £130, office.co.uk; bag, £415, cnicol.com; rings, £27.99 each, pilgrim.net. Right: Jeans, £175, essentielantwerp. com; boots, £139, office. co.uk; bag, £130, jigsaw-online.com, cuff, £125, merola.co.uk

Sticking with versatile neutrals, Hush does a slouchy style in supple taupe suede with a cone heel (£239, hush-uk.com). Marks & Spencer has a good range of black boots including a leather look (vegan-friendly) block heel boot with a stretch zip to ensure a better fit on the calf (£49.50, marksandspencer.com). The promise this time around is good-looking legs with maximum comfort.

Meanwhile, fashion’s take on a riding boot is the one to wear with shorter skirts, if you’re in the market for those, or longer dresses, especially ones with side slits or buttons you can leave undone.

A bit of movement and a glimpse of knee is what will keep this from looking too stiff and covered up. They come with horsey hardware (£165, jonesbootmaker.com) or with stretch panels (£375, russelland bromley.co.uk), but my preference is an equestrian feel with a block heel, 3½ cm higher than you need to sit on a horse (£135, dunelondon.com). It just gives you that extra assistance in the legs department.

Left : Dress, £165, jigsaw-online. com; boots, £245, russellandbromley. com; bag, £150, jasper conran.com; watch, £165, rotary watches. com; rings, £12.99 and £27.99, pilgrim.net. Right: Dress, £34.99, tkmaxx.com; boots, £150, dunelondon.com; bag, £270, jasperconran.com; bracelets, £139, missoma.com and £50, Kenneth Jay Lane at brownsfashion.com; ring, £65, daisyjewellery.com

You can also wear boots under trousers, of course, and I can’t wait to test-drive them — either under the new narrow flares and bootcuts (jeans) or wide-leg trousers (wool or velvet). After years of wearing ankle boots with narrower trousers, I’m ready for a change and the extra swagger that comes with a longer boot.

Wear them with jeans cropped at the ankle and go for a 1970s tan Frye boot (£268, freepeople.com) or fitted black leather with a walkable heel (£219, kurtgeiger.com). Another option is the tall cowboy boot. Of all the knee boots this is the least versatile, but if you’ve always fancied giving them a go then this is as good a time as any. Zara does an expensive looking one in sand suede (£119, zara.com).

Otherwise, I always find a platform boot irresistible — all the height with none of the pain (£295, russellandbromley.co.uk).

And you can’t go far wrong with a well-cut, pull-on, black suede boot. Russell & Bromley’s Trinni style has a 6cm suede-covered block heel and an elasticated back panel (£345 russellandbromley.co.uk) so it’ll go with everything, work after dark and get you home on your bicycle. If only everything was this easy.

Left : Jumper, £325, theoutnet.com; skirt, £49.99, tkmaxx.com; boots, £220, dunelondon.com; bag, £315, cnicol.com; cuff, £195, merola.co.uk; rings, £27.99 each, pilgrim.net. Right: Jumper, £79, marksand spencer.com; jeans, £165, thefold london.com; boots, £340, miista. com; bag, £499, cnicol.com; cuff, £195, merola.co.uk; rings, £14, pilgrim.net, and £65, daisyjewellery.com

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