One of my small pleasures in life is stumbling across an item that magically reconfigures my whole wardrobe. Isn’t that a great feeling? You buy the thing, which, up until that point, you hadn’t actually realised you needed, and, bingo, myriad brand-new outfits reveal themselves to you. It’s the sartorial jigsaw piece that completes the puzzle. So, without further ado, may I introduce you to my new best friend: warm-weather ankle boots.
If you, like me, embraced strappy sandals during April’s surprise heat wave, then your feet might be feeling a little bit shredded. Plus, with the weather dipping a little, a closed-toe ankle boot seems like a good idea. However, your stalwart black boots look a bit wrong. Too heavy. So, here’s where the – annoying fashion-word alert – trans-seasonal ankle boots come in. They’re definitely not black, rather something lighter, brighter and zingier – beige, mink, tan, metallic, white, animal print or perhaps pink. They keep your feet warm and covered, so no faffing with pedicures and no need to bid adieu to socks, if you don’t want to. You can gaily stomp around town all day while wearing them, as long as you get the heel height right (2in-3in is optimum). And you can put them with almost anything. Ankle boots give pretty dresses and midi skirts a bit of an edge, being less ladylike than shoes. They also, of course, work with most jean shapes, from skinny to cropped kick-flares to boyfriend.
I plumped for these beige suede Ash Jalouse ones with a wooden block heel and have worn them every day for the last two weeks (they’ve done so many miles, they already need reheeling). I’m a big fan of Ash ankle boots – they’re not statement-y and they don’t have Insta wow factor, but they’re well-designed wardrobe failsafes. I bought these same ones in black a few years back (they keep certain styles on sale, season after season) and they were so comfortable and useful I wore them into the ground. The beige pair work well with my denim culottes, skinny blue jeans and pleated midi skirts now, and will also look the business with a sundress and denim jacket in a few weeks’ time. I’ll also wear them to festivals in the summer, because no one wants to wear flip-flops in a mosh pit or Portaloo (not that I make it into the mosh pit much these days, but you get my point). What’s more, the 2.5in heel makes for a less stumpy silhouette than that offered by my white trainers. Talking of leg-lengthening – and I’m 5ft 2in, so I do talk about it a lot – the Jalouse is cleverly cut, with a flattering “V-neck” dip at the front (ones that are cut straight across the ankle do nothing for me).
Weirdly, high-street retailers are a bit rubbish when it comes to warm-weather ankle boots – as I write, M&S only has 12 pairs online, Zara 38 and ASOS 90 (yet they’ve got 457 pairs of sandals in stock). Perhaps stores are holding on to that old-fashioned idea of strictly defined seasons, thinking everyone packs away their boots as soon as the clocks go back, to make room for bikinis. But most women don’t shop, dress or arrange their wardrobes like that any more – the weather is too weird and unpredictable. But there are some decent warm-weather ankle boots to be found, if you know where to look. & Other Stories has a chic pale grey pair that I can imagine wearing with a summery frock, while Seven Boot Lane’s Juliet low-cut boots would look great with a pair of rolled-up jeans. I spotted these Whistles snake-print heeled Chelsea boots, exclusive to John Lewis, for £145 down from £255. And, still on the animal-print theme, this Air & Grace leopard-print pair promises to be as comfy as trainers. And if I were a rich (wo)man, I would make a beeline for these unusual green beauties by Dear Frances on YoungBritishDesigners.com.