A Guide to Women’s Boots

Posted by in Fashionable

Boots, Boots, Boots, A Guide to Women’s Boots!

Now that the cold is finally setting in for most of us, and since we’ve been getting a lot of questions about boots, here’s a boot guide!

Some notes before I go on: this is not a comprehensive guide by any means! I welcome any input that you may have, so please add it in the comments and I’ll edit the post as we go.

This is also not a guide on boot care, but here’s a link that explains it better than I could anyway. I’ll also add that I don’t know much about leather quality, but I think that is just generally problematic for women’s shoes. BUT, you will not find quality leather boots below $100, so don’t ask!

Expect to spend some money on your boots, especially if you’re looking for a mid-calf or higher boot (more leather used=higher price).

With all that said, I do hope that this guide provides you with some helpful information.

Boots Types

Oh, we have a lot of types of boots, and most of them come in a range of shaft heights. So, we’ve got:

  • Chelsea boots, in ankle, mid-calf, and knee-high: characterized by the elastic panels on the sides of the boot
  • Combat boots, in ankle, mid-calf, and knee-high: characterized by lacing that goes up the boot, inspired by combat boots used, well, in combat.
  • Riding boots, in ankle, mid-calf, and knee-high: inspired by horse riding boots and characterized by a low heel and mostly a tall shaft (but available in other shaft heights for fashion/style choices)

Among many other types of boots, like:

  • engineer boots,
  • harness boots,
  • cowboy boots or
  • chukka’s,
  • or just general ‘fashion boots’.

Then there are specialized boots, like snow boots or rain boots, which I will not be exploring here as we are all familiar with these already.

Heel Heights

  1. Flat: super versatile and obviously easy to walk in
  2. Wedge: generally very easy to pull off, has some good lengthening effects if done right
  3. Stiletto Heel: this can verge on looking a little odd (such a small heel holding such a big boot!), but it can be done well.
  4. Chunky Heel: offers a really balanced look compared to a stiletto heel.

Shaft Height

  • Ankle: very versatile shaft choice, and probably most versatile out of all shaft heights. ankle boots, whether flat or heeled, work really well with pants, skirts, and dresses. they also allow you to play around with cuffing your pants, showing a sliver of skin, matching up your tights for ultra-long legs, etc.
  • Mid-Calf: this shaft height can be tricky, because if you have short legs, or are short, then you may end up looking shorter. it can work well if there’s not a strong contrast between boot and pant/leg. for example, black pants black mid-calf boots can work really well, but white pants brown mid-calf boots may have too much contrast.
  • Knee-High: more versatile than mid-calf, but not quite as versatile as ankle. this is because a lot of the end result will depend on where it hits on your leg line (really close to the knee, a little bit over the calf, etc.).

Wide Calf and Narrow Calf Solutions/Options

First of all, Zappo‘s allows you to filter by calf circumference so you can find a variety of shoe options there.

Most other sites will allow you to narrow it down by ‘wide’ or ‘narrow’ calf. Neither option is foolproof in my opinion, and I highly encourage you to try on boots in store, or order from sites that provide free return shipping. Circumference correlates to shoe size so make sure to read up how a measurement was taken. For example, Nordstrom uses a size 8.5 to measure boots.

There are certain types of boots that are more forgiving for calves that outside of the ‘norm’ range, such as:

  1. elastic panels
  2. laces

Finding your meassurement can be hard, some resources give you a little more idea on how to best messaure and they offer sizes for large calves.

  • DUO Boots: calf circumference from 30 cm to 50 cm, or 11.8 in to 19.7 in.
  • Zappo’s: calf circumference from 11 in to 21.75 in.

Finding Your Boot

So much of this will depend on your lifestyle and shoe needs. There is no specific boot that you absolutely need to own. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you work in a business casual office, ankle boots will be very versatile for you. Really great in the winter under pants or with a skirt and tights in a matching color (to elongate the leg line). Boots with a taller shaft height will be more difficult to pull off, but I do think that a simple knee-high boot with a heel can look really great with an a-line dress (like a wrap dress); I think this boot would be great for this situation. Keep in mind the more hardware and decorative elements the boot has, the more difficult it will be to pull off for business casual.
  • If you’re a college student, you have a lot of freedom in regards to type of boot. I tend to gravitate towards flat boots since that makes for easier walking.
  • If you wear a lot of skinny jeans or leggings, most shaft heights should work in theory (but as I said before, this will vary based on your proportions). This blog has a little infographic on how to tuck non-skinny jeans into boots.
  • If you wear a lot of skirts, I think shaft height will heavily depend on the length of your skirt. You can do:
  • knee-length skirt + knee-high boots
  • short skirt + ankle boots
  • short skirt + mid-calf boot
  • short skirt + knee-high boot

Shop for Quality

As I said before, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about leather quality. Though you don’t need to be an expert to know you should opt for full grain leather and disregard genuine leather.

However, I do know a bit about construction quality.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that women’s boots are terribly focused on the quality of construction. So, please take care of your boots. Don’t wear them every single day or you’ll put too much pressure at the points that bend with your foot. Put in boot trees (or folded magazines, pool noodles, etc.) in the shaft of your boot to prevent the leather from sagging.

Please don’t let your boots get this gross-looking.

If you take care of your boots, they’ll keep your toes warm for a long time.