You have splurged on the fabulous coat, purchased the pencil skirt, bought a biker jacket and are getting your eye in with animal prints, sharp shoulders and the season’s new trouser shapes. Yup, you have ticked all the key fashion boxes; you have winter 09/10 nailed. And then realisation dawns — what are you going to put on your feet to make all these fabulous new pieces work and look totally on-trend?
And the answer is a pair of ankle boots, because more than any other single accessory this season, ankle boots are the key to giving everything in your wardrobe a fresh, totally 2010 take.
The next big question is what kind to buy, since there are four basic ankle boot varieties — very short boots (aka shoeboots) sporting sky-high, often spiky heels and crafted from leather or jewel-colour suede; the distinctly mannish, Annie Hall-inspired flat, lace-up boots made to look well worn; the winter variant of the fierce gladiator sandal, with straps, studs and peep-toes; and the biker boot, which is a sort of hybrid of the last two — a bit mannish, but with straps and/or studs and a chunky heel. And the kind you choose will depend on two factors: do you need to walk more than 50 yards, and what is in your closet right now.
The walking issue is no joke: many of the glamorous boots — whether simple ankle boots or the kind which are the winter legacy of the gladiator sandal — may be fabulously covetable, but are also fabulously impractical unless you just want to stroll the few paces from car to restaurant. Platforms can make these slightly more wearable by giving you the height without forcing your foot almost perpendicular to the pavement. But if you want to be able to navigate the London Underground, or walk from Harvey Nicks to the Duke of Yorks, you had better tuck some Nurofen into the zip pocket of your Bayswater for when the pain gets too much.
As for what to wear these sky-high heeled little beauties with, the answer is any pair of ultra-skinny trousers or leggings (or treggings) and any plain skirt or dress (even, or especially, an LBD), as long as it is on the knee or shorter. For now, you can do the catwalk thing and wear your very short boots with bare legs, but as the temperature falls, add 100 denier tights (new from Falke this winter), fishnets or a pair of vertically panelled sheer/lace tights.
Those mannish boots, clearly, are at the other end of the practicality spectrum in terms of being able to walk. But while they are wearable, comfy and hugely on-trend, unless you are model-tall and model-thin, they may not be entirely flattering worn with leggings/treggings or those oh-so-fabulous ankle-skimming trousers.
For most of us, they really only work if worn as a counterpoint to “pretty” — the interesting footnote to a floral frock or gently gathered, on-the-knee skirt plus a tweed or gaberdine boyfriend jacket (or mannish overcoat/raincoat when it gets cooler). The other vital accessories with that look are fingerless gloves, out-of-shape trilby and those 100 denier opaques.
Biker boots with a chunky heel are the fabulous compromise: more wearable for most of us than the flat boots, and more comfortable than the spiky heel boot or the Winter Variant on Gladiators, they could make a wise investment if you plan to buy just one pair.
Where to find ankle boots
Short boots / shoe-boots
Black feather ankle boot £140, River Island; Suede studded boots with zip trim, £320, and suede platform shoe boots, £290, both Pour la Victoire at Harvey Nichols; Giuseppe Zanotti suede boots with jewelled eyelets, with high heel and platform sole, £670, Browns (www.brownsfashion.com); Leather side bow, ankle boot with platform, £115, Faith; Black bow ankle boot, £74.99, River Island; Royal blue suede ankle boot, £59.99, Tamaris; Shiny tan, low-heel ankle boot, £189, Hobbs; Grey Suede Stud Ankle Boot, £60, Wallis; Red or Dead St Germain ankle boot Blue suede, £74.99, Schuh; Mid-heel Ankle Boot, £55, Marks & Spencer; Purple fringed ankle boot, £69.99, Tamaris; Black ankle boots, £65, Wallis; Soft Tie blue suede Ankle Boot, £140, French Connection; Petrel suede platform ankle boot, £79.99, Tamaris; Bronze and metallic shoe boots, Lanvin, £625, Browns (as before).
Winter Variant on Gladiators
Russet brown ankle boots with straps and python heel, Dries van Noten, £490, and Black leather peep-toe wedge with four buckles, Surface to Air, £215, both at Browns (www.brownsfashion.com); Studded, peep-toe suede boots, Pour la Victoire, £320, Harvey Nichols; Leather and mesh peep-toe boots, £130, French Connection; Black chain boot, £79.99, River Island; Faith; Purple Peeptoe ankle boots with stud straps, £30, boohoo.com; (Black patent strappy boots, £110, Dune).
Brown flats with strap and buckle, £64.99, Clarks; Brown with gold hue distressed lace-up Pour la Victoire, £220, Harvey Nichols; Black distressed lace up ankle boot, £64.99, River Island; Tan Lace-Up Platform Ankle Boot, £90, Office; Opening Ceremony flat leather ankle boots with sock detail, £240, Browns (www.brownsfashion.com).
Black leather with straps and chunky heel, £70, Miss Selfridge; Leather and fabric ankle boot with buckles and platform, £95, Faith; Brown biker boots, Red Herring, £35, Debenhams; Henry Lace-up ankle boot in tan leather, £79.99, Schuh; Suede biker boot with stud straps in black, navy and brown, £95, Moda in Pelle; and the divine hybrid spike-heel shoe-boot-meets-biker boot, with straps and chunky gold buckles, Alexander Wang, £660, Browns (www.brownsfashion.com).