I successfully resisted knee-high boots for years. I brought out the last cycle when they were all the rage, about 15 years ago, when everyone was tucking in their skinny jeans. I knew this look was not for me.
For the past few months, however, I’ve wanted something to wear under skirts or dresses that weren’t pantyhose. So I caught what I call “tall boot fever”. I would never wish this disease on anyone.
I embarked on a Goldilocks-style journey to find the right pair.
There are styling challenges. I have quite long legs and hate when the boots hit the widest part of my calf. The boots also tend to be cut offensively narrow. I love that Vince offers wide calf boots and I’m disappointed, though never surprised, that more designers aren’t following his lead.
My friend Krissy has a pair of kitten heel Manolo Blahniks she got from RealReal for less than $200. She relayed the following when I texted her about it: “Manolo studied how heels affect hormones and knows the exact vagina wave in orgasm and mimicked it with the shoe wave. ” Is it scientific? Is it entirely apocryphal? Do I care if my boots can be literally orgasmic? (The answers to these questions are: probably not, could be and not at all.)
I couldn’t find hers, and while I loved the Manolo Blahnik Ocularas, the heels were too high. Just like Jimmy Choo’s Kinsey 95s. I wanted three inches, tops. I can’t bear to walk or stand in anything higher than that.
Reformation’s Remy and Bottega Veneta’s Cavallo and Rachel Comey’s Boeri were too unstructured in the calf, closer to riding boots. I wanted boots that showed some shape to my calf and ankle, but I didn’t want stretchy boots either. Dries Van Noten has a range of high patent leather boots, but patent leather seems too fetishistic to me. (If anyone is looking for boots that skew a little, please get them.)
I finally found the pair of my dreams.
I really resisted buying them, but they ticked every box: chunky heel and fitted to the right height. Also, I love the cool shade of walnut brown. They look like something Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy might have worn. I watched for weeks as they started selling online. Finally I knew what I had to do. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I sold a bunch of clothes and shoes on Instagram to fund them. Was it a deus ex machina, or was it me using a thriving second-hand market to my advantage? While you decide, I’ll wear them with a vintage Chloé dress from the Karl Lagerfeld era. ($1,950)
These are a bit more flexible than I wanted, but I love the short but interesting curved heel. The front seam and square toe look…well, expensive. I’d wear them with loose, tucked-in pants, and maybe a chunky sweater and walk my dog feeling like I really have my life together because that’s a pretty advanced look. ($1,280)
I have found that brands like Rossi, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo are still making their tall boots that were hits last time. Unfortunately, if I’m wearing anything that reads hard (leather jackets, anything with studs, almost anything black), I look like I’m in a suit. These brown suede boots are sweet (literally, figuratively, and probably emotionally). If I saw a woman on the street wearing a black dress and coat with brown boots, I would probably follow her just to see what she was up to. ($1,695)
Classic almond toe, tall stacked heel, interesting stitching that doesn’t get in the way. If I was looking for black knee high boots I would seriously consider these. Maybe with a jacquard pencil skirt? Or, for spring, with a loose cotton skirt and tucked-in shirt? “Classic” is such an overused word when writing about fashion, but it’s important to be able to wear something for years and years without it being dated. ($1,350)
I recently watched the documentary ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’, about the early New York music scene – the Strokes, Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – and this pair looks like what a young woman with parted hair, a lot of eyeliner and a dress with an empire or low waist (sizes were everywhere 20 years ago) would wear to one of these shows. I love the idea of wearing them with a long dress for a bit of tension. ($725, now on sale for $435)