Friday, November 16, 2001

The boot steps out

Kicky styles go with all fashions, all figures

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The biggest footprint on the winter fashion scene is being made by the boot.

        “All the ready-to-wear styles go with boots — the skirts, long or short; the trousers, jeans,” says Jami Straka, junior boot buyer for Famous Footwear stores, based in Madison, Wis. Four of the five top-selling women's shoe styles in the 920-store chain are boots, she says.

        “Boots fit any lifestyle,” Ms. Straka says. “You can wear boots and be moderate. You can wear boots and be young and fun. And you can wear boots and be older and more sophisticated.”

        “There are four main styles of boots,” says Pam Freeman, regional special events, public relations manager for Lazarus:

        • The high-shaft (the ankle-to-knee part of the boot) boot that ends just below the knee.

        • The mid-shaft boot that ends at mid-calf.

        • The bootie that covers the anklebone.

        • The shoe boot, or demi-boot, cut below the ankle.

Styles for everyone

        What about those of us with less-than-runway-quality gams, women dealing with thicker ankles, wider calves, shorter legs or skinny ankles?

        “A diversification of styles, shaft and heel heights offers multiple options,” says Karolyn Wangstad, senior vice president of trend merchandising for Payless ShoeSource, headquartered in Topeka, Kan.

        With details such as symmetrical stitching, buckles, seam details, gores, lace-ups and stretch fabric that looks like leather, there's no excuse for anyone to not pull on, zip up and be a part of the boot brigade.

        Some shoppers, such as Tanya English of Clifton, prefer the smooth zipperless look and fit but struggle with putting on that style boot.

        “It's harder to get on because there's no zipper, but the styles with a zipper gap a little at the top,” says Ms. English, while tugging at a high-shaft boot by Franco Sarto at Lazarus in Kenwood Towne Centre and mulling over the choice of camel, the hot new color, or darker brown leather.

        A Lazarus associate advised her to roll down the boot's shaft as though she were slipping on hosiery and pull from the bottom.

        A chafing cuff was the problem for Letitia Miller of Liberty Township at Famous Footwear, as she searched for an ankle-high boot with a soft cuff.

        “It's hard to find a boot this height that doesn't rub,” she said as she tried on a 9 West Cloud 9 bootie with a soft felt cuff lining.

Boots for problem legs

        We asked the three boot experts for tips on choosing boot styles for different leg dilemmas.

        The skinny ankle: Look for buckles and laces at the ankle for an adjustable fit. The bootie that comes over the ankle is a good choice because most tie. The mid-shaft boot is recommended because it hits the widest part of the calf and takes attention away from the ankle. High-shaft boots are going to be more of a problem. Look for a stretch shaft for a more snug fit and stay away from boots with a gore (a V-shaped piece of elastic) in the shaft. Avoid the lower-cut shoe boot since it will emphasize the thinness of the ankle.

        The thicker ankle: The shoe boot, cut below the ankle, has a roomy fit and draws the eye away from the ankle line. Choose a boot height that hits above or below the trouble spot. Try a knee-high to 3/4-knee boot with a shaft, like the slouch style that's loose at the ankle. A boot with “bottom interest” — platform or a wedge heel worn with boot-cut pants — covers the problem area.

        The wide calf: Choose one of the two lower-shaft styles with side zippers and stay away from mid-calf as well as two-tone boots. The bootie gives a cleaner look if it hits right above the ankle. A full, inside calf zipper and an elastic gore or gusset will help with the fit if you choose a high-calf style. Toe shapes should be tailored and if a platform is chosen, it should not be clunky or stacked to create a more streamlined look.

        Fuller figure: Keep in mind that wider-width boots are sized with proportionately larger shafts. Look for a full side zipper on high-shaft styles. The bootie and shoe boot will draw attention to the foot. A tall boot with a stretch shaft is a good choice if it's comfortable.

        Short legs: The best look is a tall shaft because it gives the impression of length. And go for heel height because that gives the illusion of longer legs. When you're wearing pants you want them a little fuller with a higher heel in the boot. Short-shaft boots are a good choice if you wear tights in a matching color to lengthen the line. Choose a refined toe with a tailored platform to create a clean line that lengthens the silhouette, opposed to heavy platforms that will draw the eye downward.

More boot-wearing tips

        • When you wear a high-shaft boot with a shorter skirt, always wear tights, not sheers, to complete the look. You can wear short boots with a short skirt if you wear coordinating tights to lengthen the line and to tie the boot to the skirt.

        • Consider camel and brown boots instead of black. They are a good match with the tweeds and equestrian styles popular this season.

        • Boots with a bump toe, a platform sole or heavy heel should be worn with a wider-leg pant.

        • Dress boots should be worn close to the ankle with tighter-fitting pants. They should have a slimmer heel, not a chunky design.

        • Shoe boots are excellent choices for denim, jeans and slacks.

        • Check out for help in choosing the right boots to match your outfit.


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