An ode to the ankle boot

Fashion’s favourite staple is here to stay


Words: Rosie Goddard

While I appreciate each of my ankle boots for their physical attributes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t give them enough credit for all the additional roles they fulfill in my life.

In times of trouble, my heeled Chelsea boots were there to trick me into thinking my legs were thinner than they were. When I had a short dalliance with the world of outdoor trance parties, my moccasins helped me to blend in while reminding me that it was ok to wear shoes (even though no one else was). And when I got off at the wrong bus stop in the dodgy end of London, my comfortable lace-ups aided me in traversing the rainy city streets when I thought I could walk no more (but walk I did).

However, we really owe our current obsession with the ankle boot to...you guessed it, the 70s. It was during this decade that some of the coolest subcultures came into their own and fashion boundaries were broken down. People wore shoes they’d never considered before, from the biker boot to heeled Chelseas and military-inspired lace-ups. What’s more, their credibility was cemented when they were adopted as the shoe of choice by punks, rebels and rockstars.

While the boot may have faded in and out of fashion consciousness, there are those that have always known its transformative power. Take a look at some of the coolest icons in recent fashion history; I’m talking Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung, even Johnny Depp. What do they all have in common, besides criminally good looks, great fashion sense, fun bank accounts and a previous penchant for recreational drugs? That would be an understanding of the ankle boot as a sartorial smash hit, a shoe so wondrous that it can worn from season to season, year in year out with the ability to uplift an outfit from good to great. It’s not an understanding that moves with the trend tide, it’s a deep-seated instinct that few are lucky enough to possess.

While they may be a perennial style staple, only certain boots can be worn across genres. Otherwise there is a time and a place, or the way I like to look at it, an occasion for every boot.Take for example, the mocassin. The fringing, suede and embroidery of this season’s favourite give it a bohemian, summery feel. While it looks beautiful with a 70s blouse and skinny jeans, it doesn’t want to be tied to a day-to-day look; it should be flirting with a festival dance floor somewhere. This is the Kate Moss of boots! It knows how to have a good time and it will take a kimono, high-waisted shorts, a plain mini dress or floral maxi to the next level of free-spirited fun. The same goes for any kind of studded or tasseled option.

In the same vein, unless you’re staying in the Wigwam village at Glastonbury and your name’s Sienna Miller, a heeled boot just isn’t going to cut it on a pot-holed dance floor, especially when combined with one too many Red Bull vodkas. This boot works overtime when it comes to flattering the figure and deserves its own form of fun; usually of the after-dark drinks variety. For S/S 15-16, the classic silhouette has been updated with a higher shaft height, sitting just above the ankle and texture has never been more important (we can thank Tommy Hilfiger and his star-covered wonders for this). Think lace-ups, velvet, patent leather, scales, denim and a platform or two for good measure. These ones suit a layered look so stack up the accessories.

But never fear, I have saved the best for last; the everyday boot, the dependable one that answers the call in times of need and pulls together a look without the bat of an eyelid. What it lacks in showmanship, it makes up for in versatility, comfort and classic style. It can’t be defined by a category but at the same time it can move between them; it’s been known to grace a dancefloor or two and transition from work to The Village Idiot with ease. It’s Alexa Chung’s prefered style and looks as good with rolled up skinny jeans as it does with an A-line mini and chunky knit. Which boot is it? Well that’s the beauty of it. It’s your Chelsea boot, your lace-up, your chunky go-to’s or your simple slip ons.

A boot can achieve exactly what you need it to, from making a girly look edgy to giving your androgynous ensemble a feminine twist. I’m not saying that ankle boots can solve all of your issues, they’re only capable of so much; what I can say is that, 60% of the time, they will make your outfit look better, everytime.