The long and short of knee-high boots

Photo: Rex Features

A one-time objector, Frankie Graddon has been swayed by this season’s long-boot revival. The question is, how do you pull them off?

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By Frankie Graddon on

I have a severe case of clothes FOMO (CLOMO?). Actually, make that BOMO, because the thing I fear I am missing out on is a pair of long boots.

Now, let me tell you, I am not traditionally a long-boot fan. I much prefer their ankle-length counterparts and have been swearing off knee-high and thigh-high for years. However, last Tuesday, during a quick online shopping break (all in the name of research, of course), I was struck with an overwhelming desire to own a pair. The world works in mysterious ways.

It was 2013 when I tried my first – and, until now, last – pair of long boots. They were grey, made from fabric and came to just above my knee. I wore them into the office and, on my first morning assignment, quickly realised that they were a bad move. What started out knee-high drooped to mid-calf in the time it took to walk to the photocopier. It was all very Captain Pugwash. I returned to my beloved ankle boots, where I happily stayed for the next four years. However, fast forward to now and, after a few months of rumblings, the long-boot revival has truly begun and I am, inexplicably and perhaps ill-advisedly, desperate for a pair.

What started out knee-high drooped to mid-calf in the time it took to walk to the photocopier. It was all very Captain Pugwash

If you really want to know the reason for my long-boot turnaround, it’s Victoria Beckham. For her autumn collection, she sent models down the catwalk in midi dresses and scrunchy-leather knee-high boots. The combination of long, red boot disappearing into swooshy, burgundy skirt was too chic for words, not to mention practical – the whole ensemble looked positively cosy and meant you could wear a skirt without having to shave your legs.

“I want a pair of knee-high boots,” I told my fashion-editor friend. “Am I mad?” A long-boot lover herself, she assured me I wasn’t and advised trying a suede, over-the-knee style: “They’re like wearing 100-denier tights.” When I recounted my Captain Pugwash episode, her tip was to invest in a good-quality pair, as they are less likely to slip. She also told me to be wary of wearing them on a night out, as they can be a bugger to take off when under the influence: “F, I’ve been known to sleep in mine.”  

Armed with that information, I’m now on the hunt for my perfect pair. Topshop has a strong contender, with the red Box suede knee-high boots (£92), which have a commuter-friendly mid-heel. Far pricier, but also extremely lovely, are the black leather slouch boots from & Other Stories (£235). And making the case for velvet are Mango’s midnight-blue over-the-knee boots, which are a very reasonable £49.99.

If you care to join me on my long-boot voyage, then here are a few more things you need to know.

Don’t be scared of going over-the-knee

While “thigh-high” anything sounds terrifying, boots that come above your knee can actually be easier than those that stop before it. For starters, you don’t have to worry about an awkward gap between end of boot and beginning of hem, and I’ve also found that shorter, mid-length boots are less flattering.

Wear long boots with midi dresses

The best way to wear your long boots is with other long things. Drag out your summery midi and maxi dresses, or wear them with a below-the-knee skirt and a chunky jumper. I would suggest avoiding long boots over trousers – a bit Puss in Boots.

Mid-heels are your friend

I love the idea of flat, knee-high boots but, in practice, they look very Jilly Cooper – just add jodhpurs. High-heeled long boots have a touch of the Pretty Woman about them, which isn’t to say don’t do it, but I prefer a mid-height block heel for both comfort factor and aesthetics.

Explore velvet and suede

If great expanses of leather from the knee down aren’t doing it for you, then try a pair of long boots in suede or velvet. This will give the whole thing a much softer look (read The Pool’s guide to protecting suede shoes here). Similarly, if black is feeling too harsh, then try tan, burgundy, navy or olive green – all fabulously autumnal.

Get the right calf size

The most depressing thing I’ve ever worn is a pair of boots that didn’t zip up over my ankles – how to give yourself a leg complex in under four minutes. Not all legs are the same size and not all boots are the same size, so try on a few pairs to find what works. If you are struggling to find a good fit, then check out Duo, which sells shoes and boots in every calf size under the sun.

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Photo: Rex Features
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