Tips for Picking Boots

Note: I apologize in advance for this post being a little long but I do recommend reading through it – you might find some good tips!

Last week, my cousin who lives in the north east asked me what my opinion on boots is because she couldn’t seem to find the right pair. Her question comes at the best time because not only is fall just around the corner but I was also already on the hunt for a new pair of favorites. Besides hot chocolate with marshmallows my favorite fall/winter item just happens to be boots.

I completely understood where she was coming from – boots can be tricky. Sometimes they can be too tall, a little too small, uncomfortable, unflattering, and occasionally you might have to yank them off with pliers. I take a little bit of time when picking out boots because I want to make sure that I invest in a style and color that I really like and one that is going to last me a couple of years. Here are few things I’m looking at this season when picking out a pair:

  • When I was in London I specifically remember that no one had boots that were over the knees and stores didn’t really carry them. (Even mine that went half way up my knees were too high). With London being one of the most fashion-forward cities in the world – I’m going to assume that over the knee boots are slowly on their way out. With this in mind, I would try and focus on finding a pair where the top hits anywhere beneath your knee. This way you can wear them in any setting – casual, going out, work, shopping, and so on. (side note: over the knee boots are extremely unprofessional in a business-wear environment)
  • Try to find boots made out of leather, faux-leather, or any other water-proof type of material. Suede or fabric boots can get wet or muddy and over time it’ll ruin the quality of the shoe, especially if they’re flat – heeled boots might last longer. If you find a pair of suede shoes that you absolutely love and you plan on wearing them on nicer winter days – by all means, buy them.
  • Side or back zipper closures make putting on and taking off your boots a lot easier.
  • If you’re looking for a boot with a heel make sure you buy a heel height that is comfortable and that you can wear through various weather conditions – snow, ice, rain, etc. Based on my experience, if you’re short and want to buy one with a heel – try to make sure the top of the boot hits right below the knee or is mid-calf to ankle. If you go right at mid-calf it might make you look stocky, especially if the heel is short (1 – 3 inches).
  • I recommend buying two pairs of flat or comfortable boots – one in a shade of brown (such as tan, chocolate, taupe, tawny, caramel, etc.) and one in black. This way you can wear them with various outfits.
  • When choosing a fit – try to find something that comfortably fits around your leg.  It can be snug but not so tight that it’s practically glued to you. To test the boot, I always try to stick at least two fingers in the top of the boot, while I have them on, to make sure there is a bit of space.
  • Most boots these days are made with various embellishments – zippers, studs, buckles, shoe laces, etc. Look for a pair that can easily be pulled on or off, tied or has a zipper, along with the embellishments. Otherwise, you’ll have to sit there and strap or buckle your leg into the boot, which can be a bit time consuming.
  • I try to go up a ½ size on the boot for a bit of added comfort and especially for those times when I wear thick socks. (Take a pair of socks that you would wear when trying on boots, only then will you get a really good feel for the shoe – those thin “pantyhose foot slip-ons” won’t be much help with boots). I’ll usually put a whole size on one foot and then a ½ size up on the other foot, walk around the store for a bit, and then see which one is better.
  • If you want to keep your boots from slouching or falling down your leg, make sure you go with a harder material. Sometimes suede/fabric boots can slouch, so get a pair that almost feels like there’s cardboard between the fabrics otherwise it won’t stay up.
  • Buy boots early – either September or October. Most stores will have already started carrying boots and you want to make sure you get the ones you like and at a price you can afford. Another good time to buy boots is in January or February when stores heavily discount them because it’s almost the end of winter.
  • If you want your boots to last a while – take care of them. The ones I absolutely adore, which I’ve worn to the ground and recently died when I went to London – I’ve had for over two years. I used to clean and polish them to make sure they looked great all season long and into the next.

I would never recommend spending hundreds of dollars on a pair of shoes but in cities where fall/winter hits harder I would suggest investing in a really good pair, in accordance to your budget.  In Houston, I feel like we wear them more as a fashion statement than for actual weather reasons so I don’t see the need of spending a lot of money on a pair of seasonal shoes. I tend to find a good quality pair for $30 – $50 and they work just fine for me.

Below are some boots that I liked – they range in a variety of prices and can be found in different stores. The more expensive ones are just to show you the various styles and colors that I felt were in this season and not necessarily to be purchased.

Stores (including the ones below) that you will find great boots/deals on include: Nine West, Bakers, Charlotte Russe, ALDO, DSW (good but expensive selection), Payless Shoe Source, Forever 21, Target (great selection!), department stores (JC Penney, Macy’s, Nordstroms, Sears, etc.), Steve Madden, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross.

1. Nine West – Nettle ($179) 2. F21 – Zipper Trimmed Buckle ($34.80) 3. Charlotte Russe – Belted Riding Boot ($45.50) 4. DSW – Santana Canada Sydney ($129.95) 5. DSW – Coconuts Becky Riding Boot ($139.95) 6. ALDO – Laughead ($170) 7. Target – Merona – Manette ($39.99) 8. Target – Glaze by Adi ($39.99) 9. ALDO – Legacy ($54.98) 10. ALDO – Elzinga ($80)

I really like the ALDO Legacy (9) and Elzinga (10) ones because they have a little wedge inside the boot, but on the outside they look flat. These two happen to be made out of suede and fabric but I found some from ALDO (just like those) in a leather-type material. DSW’s Santana Canada (4) would be a great business-wear boot. I love the color of Nine West’s Nettle (1) boot.

Hope this helps some of you when picking out boots for this upcoming season!

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