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Reaching New Heights

By PAMELA DITTMER MCKUEN
Give boots a standing ovation this fall. We’ve been through seasons of jewelry that make statements and handbags that announce our arrival on the scene. Now boots are doing all the talking. Just listen:
   
Perhaps the most interesting tale is the wondrous diversity of offerings. Boots have reached new heights, ranging from barely-there booties to thigh-high armaments. Heels go from flat to wedges to platforms to stilettos, although skyscraper spikes are usually found on the shortest and tallest of silhouettes. Color, texture and ornamentation are essential elements. We see practical boots to carry us through the coldest, slushiest days of winter as well as artistic creations to bedazzle us.
   
Major themes to mention are Western and riding influences, reptile and safari skins, and hardware galore. One of the more engaging trends is trompe l’oeil, with a boot appearing to be something other than a boot. Special effects from Mui Mui include black suede or silver glitter booties seemingly wrapped with a peep-toe sandal. Prada optically slips a Mary Jane pump over a knee-high python or suede shaft. Many a casual boot is designed with a crochet top that scrunches and folds to resemble sagging leg warmers.
   
From the Donald J Pliner collection, “Vasha” presents casual glam ($650). It’s a black suede ankle boot embellished with silver chain, mesh, and crystals—and a favorite of creative director Lisa Pliner. “It is the perfect rockstar shoe—wear them with a pair of cigarette jeans, basic t-shirt and boyfriend blazer, allowing the heels to steal the show,” she says.
   
You could go bold with a fire-engine red knee-high. If you’re feeling cautious, start out with a crimson stiletto bootie. But it’s okay to make an even smaller investment in hue, perhaps tights with a glimmer finish. Remember that shorter boots are an opportunity for color-blocking or contrast leggings. Keep your feet comfy and cool all day with Bootights, an all-in-one sock and tight by Leg Up. Leave those tube socks for the gym.
   
So which do you buy first—the outfit or the boots? Wardrobe consultant Susan Mowder of The Style Principle in Chicago advises: “If you want a head-to-toe look, buy the outfit. But if you fall in love with a great pair of boots, there is no  problem. We can always make an outfit around them.”
   
Men’s boots focus on tradition, authenticity and rugged good looks, say Adam Beltzman and Jerry Kahmi, partners in the Haberdash stores in Old Town and River North. Many of the brands are hand-sewn. Many are accompanied with long histories.
   
“The aesthetic is classicism with a little twist,” says Kahmi. Sometimes you’ll see a mix of genres, like a traditional dressy upper with a crepe sole.” In November the duo is opening Haberdash EDC, an accessories boutique plus barbershop and apothecary.
   
A gent needs three pairs of boots, the haberdashers say. The first will be leather, perhaps with wingtip stitching, to pair with a suit or dress khakis. The second will be a hardier model with a heavy sole for casual looks such as slim jeans with rolled cuffs. And the third? Something practical and waterproof like duck boots. Haberdash favors the Sorel collection.
   
One of the hottest heritage styles for men is the “Indy” boot, leather-crafted by Alden and made famous by Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones ($435). A new generation of young men has discovered the iconic workboot and is making it their own, says Beltzman.

Published: October 01, 2011
Issue: November 2011 Issue

Comments

Boots with cuffs
Also great with your own ankle, knee or over the knee boots are Peakoboots! They can coordinate with any outfit and make a profound statement!
Maggie Stegmaier, Oct-20-2011