Feel that frisson of excitement in the air? I do every September. Maybe it’s that back-to-school mentality or the fashion rule “don’t wear white after Labor Day” that recharges my passion for fashion. Perhaps it’s because I get inspired by New York Fashion Week and the editors and style acolytes parading around on the sidewalks outside the shows. This year, with temperatures in the high 80s (climate change, friends), I saw a lot of summery dresses and skirts paired, not with sandals and barely there stilettos, but with closed-toe, ankle-high boots. Yep, it’s officially a style thing: Booties are a perfect segue from summer into fall.
Here, we look at the long history of short boots, how best to wear them, and the coolest styles now.
Roots of Short Boots
Short boots hearken all the way back to the 1800s, when women and men stepped out of knee-high riding boots. In the 1960s came the hybrid “shootie,” as some called it, crafted with elasticized rubber at the ankle for easy on-and-off. Voilà, the Chelsea boot was born. The abbreviated boot had a moment again in the grunge years of the ‘90s, when post-apocalyptic Dr. Martens and other engineer boots were juxtaposed with baby doll tunics and slip dresses.
Now, as the pre-frosty days of fall appear, booties are the obvious choice for ramping up your style game without having to go with the full-monty style, a look better suited to shivering temps.
How to Wear a Bootie
*Rock the ankle bootie with a bare leg if you’re game to show your gams. Short dresses and skirts, both A-line and figure-forming, look great with an ankle bootie. Long, flowy maxi dresses pair well, too, giving a flash of spunk under the fabric. Skirts with a high slit allow for maximum leggage.
*If the weather is cool enough and you don’t want to expose so much of your own skin, wear tights with your booties. For a long line, consider coordinating the color of your tights and bootie. This season, the hot hue is aubergine (aka eggplant, oxblood, or merlot). This creates a long line for the eye, elongating the leg in the eyes of the viewer.
*Wearing booties with leggings is an easy style get. They also work well with a sleek, peg-legged pants look and flared jeans.
*Go bold with booties in neutrals of silver, gold, and leopard (NextTribe’s style fave) that can go with any and every kind and color of short dress. Our own editor in chief, Jeannie Ralston, swears by her silver peep-toe booties for both casual and dressy events.
*One styling caveat: Wear sleeker booties under long dresses, while you pair your chunkier, more casual booties with shorter skirts.
Nine booties to ease you into autumn.
1. Chelsea Booties by PSKaufman, $425
The quintessential sleek bootie in fall’s trending snakeskin.
2. Engineer Booties by Frye, $278
Rugged and cool, great for leggings and narrow jeans as well as for making a style statement with a short dress.
3. Embossed Booties by Timberland, $190
Texture upgrades your booties, especially when they are also waterproof.
4. Leopard Peep-Toe “Joal Shooties” by Lucky Brand, $119
Neutral and open-toe, a winning combo.
5. Combat Sneaker Booties by Dr. Martens, $90.
A big hit for post-punkers that get extra points for comfort.
6. Cowboy Booties by Sam Edelman for Anthropologie, $130
Short, sassy and sophisticated. Perfect for flowing dresses and skirts.
7. Sculpted Heel Booties by Vince Camuto, $149.95
The sculpted heel on these boss booties adds to its architectural elegance.
8. Biker Babe Booties, the “Mana” by Vionic, $179.95
A tamer version of a true biker bootie, but perfect for all your fashion needs.
9. Shake This Booie, the Enfield Canal Boot by Clarks, $79.95
So much to love, including the hot aubergine color.