Ankle Biters

So, ankle boots. I don’t know which hole I’ve been living in, which rock I’ve been cowering under (probably the same one which prevented me knowing until recently that leopard print is, in fact, a ‘thing’) but boots of the ankle variety have only come onto my sartorial radar pretty lately. To be honest, I think I’ve been willfully ignoring them.

It’s not as though they’re from the same stable as the over-the-knee boot, which I must confess to bloody loving. Just thinking of all that leg-lengthening potential and the great swathes of suede or leather cuddling your calf and slightly ‘problematic’ knee area makes me need a cold shower. And I like that you have to tread quite carefully (pun intended, my Russell and Bromley OTK boots are six towering inches tall) to avoid Pretty Woman territory. They are actually as chic as you like; anyone worried they might end up looking like Julia Roberts should be so lucky. They are grown-up and mean business so that every outfit you shove them on with looks glamorous, powerful and a little bit sexy which is quite useful if don’t happen to be feeling those things on a given day.

I’d never considered the ankle boot, on the other hand, as giving that much bang for your buck. They’re not offensive, sure- a boot that stops at your ankle you say? Sounds reasonable. But I never considered them capable of any of that glam-power-sex of the over-knee-high. To me, there was always a whiff of one or other Dickensian archetype- the street urchin with undone hobnails and shorts, or Nancy running away from Bill Sykes in her long skirt and button-ups- I just couldn’t seem to get the proportions right. Too short a hemline- ‘Please sir can I have some more’, too long a skirt and it all gets a bit panto dame. In short, a little bit ridiculous.

Preeetty unflattering too… They cover the thinnest part of your leg, the bony ankle, and stop at a point on your lower calf that makes your leg look weirdly shapeless. They also make models legs look regular-length which seems a shame if you’re starting with regular-length. Things can surely only get worse.

I’d held out against it for so long that I thought it was one corner of the market I could confidently overlook. But then some seriously beautiful specimens started landing in stores. Butter soft maroon leather with hammered gold heels, tapestried silks, leopard print and printed velvet in kaleidoscope colours. Totally impractical of course, but you’re talking to the proud owner of some baby pink suede mules. Practical who? My head was turned and I dipped my toe (pun intended) into the murky waters.

In fact, now I’ve got accustomed to the new silhouette which is, yes, granted, a bit different but equally charming and BONUS pretty effing comfy too, I’ve noticed a few cunning ploys to get round the potential pitfalls so that I can confidently clasp the ankle boot into the bosom of my wardrobe.

They almost always have a pretty sizable heel which is good for adding length back to your legs but chunky enough that you can trot about quite happily without crying with pain. Even my newfound love and yearning to embrace the ankle boot will never see me attempt a flat-soled version. Karlie Kloss looks stumpy in them, end of.

The toe shape is important as well. I have some epic David Bowie-esque (may he rest in peace) platform clodhoppers (above) which flatter purely by giving me the extra inches mentioned above (8 inches to be exact, I’m taller than most men) but have a potentially unflattering toe shape, bulbous and squared off, like the nose of a school bully. I don’t care at this stage, but an almond toe shape or slightly pointed (although no winkle-pickers please, there’s no need to pay homage to the Shermanators* of the early Noughties) charms people’s eyes into thinking you’re more elongated than you actually are, if you worry about this sort of thing.

*Shermanators are those instantly recognisable groups of men who drink Fosters in little groups of a Friday evening, reeking of aftershave and all wearing an identical uniform of untucked, over-ironed Ben Sherman shirts, light wash jeans and great pointy lace-up monstrosities in baby-poo brown. We’ve all seen them, don’t pretend.

I've also noticed that when the top of the boot gapes a little away from your leg, you don’t look like you’ve fought to close the zipper and thus gives your leg more of a hint of the twig than of the Twix.

I am now rarely out of them and my feet are feel warm and contented. I actually now struggle to think what I would wear instead of an ankle boot with, say, cropped jeans or black tights in these nippier months. I’m embracing the short skirt/tights/boot combo safe in the knowledge that any visual references to Oliver Twist are all in my head, and I now pair them with my baggy high-waisted jeans like it’s no big deal. Sure, this might not be the epitome of that f word, (flattering) but it looks cool. (Ah ‘cool’ that ephemeral Platonic ideal.) No, my legs might not look as long as they could and yes, my bum might look bigger than it is, but I’ve bought into this look because of its rule-breaking, its carefreeness which is cool and powerful and, hey why not? a little bit sexy all on its own, without a swathe of suede in sight. And comfortable to boot (pun intended).

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