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How Do I Choose the Right Ankle Boots for Fall?

ankle boots for fallThere are four types of ankle boots every fashionista needs to have in her closet.

And each of these ankle boots has to be three things:

  • comfortable.
  • timeless, and
  • compliment your style.

One size does not fit all in fashion and what may work for one woman may be a total miss for another.  That’s why with the waning weather of summer comes the oh so fun task of choosing the perfect boots for fall.  The most versatile boot, and the one this post is about, is the ankle boot.

In a previous post I described very fashionable ways on how to wear leather for fall.  I got a lot of comments and e-mails from readers who wanted to know how to translate that information on how to choose the right boots for fall.  Check out the most important types of ankle boots I’ve discovered from building my clients the most wearable and versatile wardrobes.

1. The Staple Ankle Boot

Staple Ankle Boot

Think of the staple ankle boot as the “LBD” of your boot collection.  This is the go to boot that you can wear with almost anything and it’s style and structure are built to last for several seasons to come.  Of all the ankle boots in your quintessential shoe wardrobe, these are the pair I suggest spending the most money on.  Here are the most important characteristics of the staple ankle boot:

  • Choose proper fit & comfort.  Above all, these boots need to be comfortable!  Whether that means a 1/2″ heel or a 4″ heel, wedge or stiletto, the height of the heel and the fit of the ankle boot on your foot must allow you to be comfortable whenever you wear them.
    • Two-Hour Rule: A good rule of thumb I use when working with clients to determine if a a shoe is comfortable is they must be able to wear and stand in the shoe for around two hours (not continual standing) without their feet hurting.  If the ankle boot you try on doesn’t pass this test, then you want to pass on it for your staple ankle boot.
    • A chunkier heel it best (I know that’s surprising coming from a lover of all things stiletto:), but it’s true.  A chunkier heel allows for better weight distribution on your feet and will be more comfortable when worn for longer periods of time versus a skinnier heel.
  • Durable material is a MUST.  You can choose fancy fabrics for one of your other ankle boots, but for your staple ankle boot go for a durable material.  Leather, suede, and shearling are the best choices.  To ensure extra durability, treat your boots with a weatherproof spray before wearing in any bad or inclement weather.
  • Go for a basic color.  This is the boot you need to be able to wear with most items in your wardrobe, so stick with a color that shows up many times in your closet. Black, navy, dark brown, and tan are all good choices.

 

2. The Statement (or Fashion) Ankle Boot

Statement Ankle BootAs the title implies, this is the ankle boot in your collection that’s meant to make a statement! You still want this boot to be comfortable, but it doesn’t have to pass my “two hour rule”. When choosing a statement ankle boot, remember:

  • Slender is more feminine.  A slimmer (aka stiletto) heel is much more feminine than a chunky heel.  For the statement ankle boot, your goal is to make your foot look as sleek and stylish as possible all while being able to comfortably walk.
  • Pick timeless details.  You want to make a statement, but you also want to be able to wear this ankle boot next season as well.  Choose timeless details such as woven leather, stitching, metallic accents, fringes, etc. versus something too “trendy”.
  • No limits on color.  Pick a color that’s unexpected yet still keeps in alignment with the overall color scheme of your wardrobe.  For instance, I have a lot of blues and grays in my closet, so a great statement ankle boot for me might be in royal blue leather with gray suede fringe.  Though this isn’t a boot that would necessarily work in most wardrobes, it’s a color and style that coordinates with many pieces in my wardrobe.  Exotic pick, yes! Still wearable, yes!

 

3. The Flat Ankle Boot

Flat Ankle BootA flat ankle boot is meant to work with shorter skirts, looks good when paired with tights and leggings, and gives you a chance to wear slim cut an casual pants in a different way. Flat boots don’t have to have absolutely no heel, but the heel should be 2″ or less.

  • Play with details.  Since you don’t have a heel, at least not a high one, to make this boot look stylish, you can really play with detail when picking the perfect flat ankle boot.  Think studs, grommets, buckles, and laces.
  • Ensure proper arch support.  This may seem obvious with any of the ankle boots in your collection, but making sure your flat ankle boot has proper padding and arch support is really important.  It’s easy to think that because a shoe is low it will be comfortable, but that’s totally false!  Once again you want to make sure this boot also passes the “two hour rule” I discussed above.
  • Go for rubber soles.  You want as much grip as possible when it comes to your flat boots and rubber soles will give you that.  Improved traction, the ability to absorb greater amounts of shock, and weighing less than leather soles are all factors as to why rubber soles are the best choice when it comes to flat ankle boots.

 

4. The Evening Ankle Boot

Evening Ankle BootThis is the ankle boot you can wear to an “after 5″ event.  This ankle boot looks good with a dress or gown and would compliment a lady’s tuxedo impeccably well!  Since this is a special occasion shoe, you shouldn’t be able to wear it with jeans and tee as that’s not it’s purpose.  If you aren’t a woman who goes out to evening events alot, you can skip this ankle boot.  However I do advise you get a pair when it’s “off season” (like spring or summer) when this type of footwear is on sale.  It will make a huge difference in your look whenever you do get a chance to wear it!

  • Not everyday material.  Like the strappy sandals you’d wear with your best dress, you don’t want the evening ankle boot to be wearable with all other items in your wardrobe.  The point is for it to be for special occasions only.  Possible materials your evening ankle boot could be made of include:
    • fur,
    • lace,
    • mesh,
    • pony,
    • rhinestones,
    • satin, and
    • silk.
  • Height is important.  No flats allowed!  Seriously you want this to be a very feminine and ladylike ankle boot and so saying you want it to be high.  Even if you can’t pull off a 5″ heel, try not to go lower than a 3″ heel.  The higher the heel the longer your legs and silhouette will look overall.
    • Also these are the only pair of ankle boots were I don’t take comfort into account as much.  If needed, purchase insoles and practice walking in these beauties at home to make them more comfortable, but the point is for them to look good with your evening attire.
  • Think outside the box.  Think outside the traditional boot box that is.  Great variations of the traditional ankle boot can be a peep-toe style, mule, or even sandal style ankle bootie.  Remember these aren’t shoes you’ll be wearing everyday, so you can be a little impractical on the style and design.

Still confused on how to choose the right ankle boots for your wardrobe?

Check out these fashion articles I found on the web:

Now you’re ready to shop for these four styles of ankle boots to add to your closet.

Shop my lookbook and find a few pairs that fit you today!

Ankle Boots for Fall_KR Lookbook

Which ankle boots do you already have in your closet?

What styles do you need to add?

Comment below!

photo credit: …love Maegan via photopin cc

The Basics of Layering Neutrals

the basics of layering neutralsNeutrals are a necessary part of a balanced wardrobe.

Without neutrals you would never have those pieces that “fill in the gaps” so to speak and pull your look together.

With that in mind, and the first touches of fall visible outside, I decided to put together a list of the five easiest ways any fashionista can layer neutrals.  That’s right layering neutrals is possible (and works wonderfully well with my la mere layering technique just in case you’re wondering:)

 

1. Match Details

layering neutrals - match details

Matching details of neutral items is the easiest way to layer them and achieve a look of consistency, even if the colors are different.  An few examples of this include:

  • a beige cowl neck top being layered underneath a taupe cowl neck cardigan
  • an ivory bow detail blouse layered underneath a tan bow detailed blazer
  • a camel herringbone print skirt over a pair of off-white herringbone texture tights

 

2. Go 3 for 3

layering neutrals - go 3 for 3 If you know anything about flower arranging, you know that the use of odd numbers is important to create balance and symmetry.  This same rule applies when layering neutral pieces.   For this technique to work, you want to choose six pieces for your look; three in each color.  Here are a few easy combos you can pluck from your closet today:

  • Tan: hat, blouse, pumps + Ivory: pants, belt, handbag
  • Cream: sleeveless top, shoes, accessories + Stone Gray: cardigan, skirt, handbag
  • Ecru: hat, shoes, handbag + Camel: top, pants, earrings

 

3. Play with Gray

layering neutrals - play with grayWhether you spell it gray or grey, one of the things I really love about the color gray is how versatile it is!  I remember from art class in middle school learning about values of a color meaning it’s different shades (any color mixed with black) and tints (any color mixed with white) and gray had the most!  Another very cool fact about the color gray is that it’s considered a neutral in many instances and is one of the only colors that you can wear darker and lighter tones of the same color all at once and still look coordinated!

Here are some popular names for the different colors of gray you may come across in  your shopping expeditions:

  • cool gray
  • charcoal gray
  • dark gray
  • gray violet
  • gunmetal
  • heather gray
  • light gray
  • medium gray
  • oatmeal gray
  • pale gray
  • platinum
  • steel gray
  • stone gray
  • taupe gray
  • warm gray

Remember, all these colors can work together with proper balance and proportion.  Practice makes perfect so play with a few different variations of this color and see what combinations you like best.

 

4. Monochromatic Dramatic

layering neutrals - monochromatic dramaticThis is probably the most challenging way to layer neutrals.  That’s because a neutral color like ivory or tan in one label may be a slightly different color in another layer.  For that reason I have two main tips for this sort of layering:

  • Wear as few pieces as possible.   A dress, shoes and a blazer are a perfect example.  The less items you have to wear the easier it is to make sure everything matches perfectly.
  • Shop the same brand.  If you love a Gucci skirt in ivory, your best bet to match that exact shade of ivory is buying a Gucci top as well   For the fashionistas who love runway designer labels (like Gucci and Versace), you may want to consider bridge brands (meaning slightly lower cost brands such as L.K. Bennett, DVF, and Cynthia Rowley) since you’ll need to buy multiple pieces of that brand to get the right color match.  The only slight exception to this is when you’re wearing a single color in different fabrics (say wool and satin).  Due to the nature of the materials they take color differently when dyed so it’s acceptable for their to be some variation in the shades you’re wearing in this instance.  Just make sure the difference in colors is very subtle and barely noticeable.

For good measure I have a third tip for this type of layering of neutrals…

  • Details add interest.  Since you’re wearing a single color aka monochromatic, that means you want to keep your look from being boring (meaning adding depth,and interest) by ensuring you pick pieces with detail.  Ruffles, frills, bows, ties, crystals, and the like all help to add more dimension to your look and enhance your silhouette.

 

5. A Dash of Metallics

layering neutrals - a dash of metallicIf you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you probably realize two of my great loves are stilettos and metallics.  Metallics are an unexpected and daring choice but they can be worn as neutrals.

Metallics not your thing?  Then you can do the same layering of neutrals with pearlescent versions of your favorite colors as well!  If you’re really fearless in fashion, pair metallic and pearlescent pieces in the same look.

Now I know your ready to shop for the neutrals that you can mix, match and layer.

Shop my lookbook for exclusive looks featuring this fun fall trend.

 

Layering Neutrals_KR Lookbook_10.1.14

 

Is this a look you would try?

Why or why not?

Comment below!

photo credit: garann via photopin cc

Besides A Leather Jacket, How Can I Wear Leather This Fall?

how to wear a leather jacketNow that it’s officially fall, it’s time to adjust your wardrobe.

A staple in any cool weather climate, leather is one of those timeless materials that just works for this time of year.  From cowhide to lambskin to vegan, leather should be a part of every fashionistas wardrobe.

Most of us have a leather jacket or coat hanging in our closets. However did you know that you can wear leather in LOTS of other fashionable ways for fall?

I put my stylist mind and love for shopping to work and came up with a few ways to add leather pieces to your wardrobe and still look like you stepped out of a fashion magazine. Follow these tips for flawless incorporation of one of my favorite cold weather materials.

1. Leather Shorts + Opaque Tights

Look of Leather 1

Early fall is when it’s still warm and not quite time to pull out the fluffy stuff (like goosedown coats and cashmere wraps) that will keep me warm on my daily commute.  That’s why I love the look of leather shorts and opaque tights for this time of year.

For the shorts:

  • Pick the right inseam.  Choose a pair that’s between above-the-knee and mid-thigh length. Too short or too long shorts won’t work.
  • Choose a focal point.  If you want to wear leather shorts with a print, I suggest making the shorts the focal point of your outfit.  This means everything else should be in solid colors.
  • Keep it animal free.  Stick with a vegan leather as leather shorts made from animal hides can get hot!

For the tights:

  • Darker colors work best in this look.  My picks are navy, black, forest green, and chocolate brown.
  • Make sure the tights are truly opaque. The level of opacity is up to you, but a blend of sheer opaque tights gives a nice sheen as well as coverage.
  • Avoid tights with texture.  Unless you have very skinny legs, any texture on the tights worn underneath the leather shorts can make your legs look chunky or unshapely.

Finishing touches:

  • A pair of flat oxfords or brogues works nicely in this look.  Make the legs appear longer by picking shoes in the same color as the tights.
  • Keep any jewelry simple and cluster a bunch of small pieces versus wearing any statement jewelry.  Remember the leather shorts are the star of the show.
  • As the weather gets colder, this is a perfect look to try with my la mere layering technique.
    • Layer on top by adding a scarf around the neck and fitted blazer.
    • Layer on the bottom by adding socks along with the tights and changing the shoes to a flat boot.

 

2. Metallic Leather + “All Black Everything

Look of Leather 2The old fashion adage is true, black never goes out of style!  It’s one of my favorite colors to wear (along with my love of stilettos) and can be worn in any season.  The key to successfully wearing black is proportion and fit.  Wearing things that fit well is important to pull off this color, especially when you’re wearing it head-to-toe in a monochromatic look.  That’s where texture and accents come into play.

For the leather vest:

  • Go for texture.  Or embellishment, since it will be paired with all black underneath.
  • Pick a vest that’s hip length.  Cropped can work if you have an enviable waistline (which many of us don’t).  Avoid a vest that’s too long as it will go over the hips and rear and potentially distort the shape.
  • Pick a vest that fits.  Make sure you can move in the vest!  If you don’t have full range of motion in your arms or it pulls tightly across the back if you hunch over, then it’s too tight.

For the jeans & top:

  • Choose jeans that flatter your figure.  If skinny jeans don’t work for you, then pick a style that does.  Bootcut is universally flattering.
  • Make sure the jeans are black.  The goal is a dramatic effect so find the darkest, truest color of black denim jeans possible.
  • Long sleeves are a must.  Whether you go for a body suit, turtleneck, or mockneck turtuleneck, it’s important for the top to have long sleeves.

Finishing touches:

  • Ensure the heel height is comfortable for you to walk in.  Although I love stilettos, they aren’t for everyone.  It’s more important that your shoes coordinate with the leather vest and are a statement shoe.
  • Match your metallics.  If you like gold, then match it with gold.  The same goes for if you choose silver, pewter, rose gold, or bronze.  This is not a time to mix metallics.
  • Match your blacks.  The jeans you pick and the long-sleeve top need to match almost perfectly.  That means no faded black denim allowed!

 

 

3. Pleated Leather Skirt + Cashmere Sweater

Look of Leather 3

A pleated skirt is a wonderful wardrobe staple for every woman.  Regardless of the length, this feminine and classic skirt can be worn to work, for play, on a date, or casually.  For fall, I like the leather pleated skirt because it adds a bit of edge and maturity to this effortlessly feminine piece.

For the pleated skirt:

  • Go for knee-to-shin length.  Since every piece of clothing in your wardrobe should be timeless, keeping lengths versatile will enable you to wear it for more seasons and for more occasions.
  • Keep colors classic.  Though I love colored leather, choose a pleated leather skirt in a classic color such as black, navy, chocolate brown, or camel.  Once again, you’ll get more wear (and for more seasons) out of a classic colored leather pleated skirt versus one that’s, say, electric blue.
  • Faux or vegan are best.  Since leather is a heavy material, it can look cumbersome in the form of a pleated skirt.  To keep the look and weight light, go for a pleated leather skirt in vegan leather.  This is also a more budget-friendly option.

For the cashmere sweater:

  • V-neck is best.  Whether you want to layer a collared shirt underneath your sweater or wear a dramatic statement necklace, a v-neck cashmere sweater will allow you to do just that.
  • Go for 2-ply.  This is considered “seasonless” cashmere and your best bet in being able to wear this look in cooler weather instead of just winter weather.
  • Keep it neutral.  The pleated leather skirt is the star so make sure all of your other pieces play the background role.  Pick a cashmere sweater in a neutral or basic color so there’s not competition for attention in your look.

Finishing touches:

  • Add print.  Since the pieces are basic, you want to add depth and interest to your look with the use of prints.  A bit of graphic print or animal print is a great add-in here.
  • Choose minimal accessories.  Simple and chic is what you want, so minimize the use of accessories.  As stated above, add interest with a bit of print.
  • Pick fun flats.  The pleated leather skirt is the star, so choose a cool pair of flats (like oxfords or brogues) to keep it that way.

 

4. The Leather Dress

Look of Leather 4

The leather dress in a word can be intimidating.  The images that a “leather dress” brings to mind when I’ve suggested it to clients is some type of dominatrix with whips and chains.  That is so not the case!  A quality leather dress is an investment piece that will last you for years to come with proper care.

For the dress:

  • Sheath is best.  A classic sheath dress is the best style to choose.  It’s timeless,simple and a classic that will never go out of style.
  • Keep it knee length.  For maximum versatility, knee length will serve you best. This is long enough to be appropriate for a professional environment or upscale dinner yet short enough to be flirty and fun for more casual activities.
  • Stick with a dark color.  Even if you feel black may be too daunting, stick with dark colors that always show up in fall wardrobes.  Think navy, cognac, wine, aubergine, or charcoal grey.

Finishing touches:

  • For the office, go for a fitted blazer that really defines the waist plus has a bold stripe or pattern to contrast with the solid colored leather dress.
  • To ensure your look stays feminine versus dominatrix, keep your accessories dainty.  The contrast between the strong statement the leather dress makes against the subtle statement of thin bracelets and pearl necklaces balances out the look.
  • If you want to make this look a little more retro, pair the leather dress with the same color opaque tights and flat or low-heeled knee boots.  Throw in a cropped jacket and your look is a refined homage to 60’s style.

 

5. Leather Leggings + Cropped Top

Look of Leather 5

Leather leggings are the ultimate in chic modern casual.  These beauties can be worn virtually anywhere, dressed up or down, and easily make you look like a million bucks!

For the leggings:

  • Choose panel leggings.  These give the wearer the best fit and are more budget-friendly than purely leather leggings.  The panels of stretch material and leather also make a great pattern.
  • Stick to black.  I love colored leather, but sticking to black is the most slimming and timeless choice.
  • Ensure proper fit.  Make sure the leather leggings aren’t too tight or too loose. Looking constricted and spilling over any place is just as bad as having sagging going on anywhere (especially in the crotch area!).

Finishing touches:

  • Pair with a crop top.  I love crop tops for their versatility!  You can layer a longer shirt underneath for cooler weather and get a killer urban inspired look.
  • Grab designer kicks.  A fun and sophisticated wedge sneaker is a great compliment to leather leggings.  Grab a designer pair in black for an easily accessible casual look.
  • Keep accessories fun.  A cool compliment to the designer wedge sneakers are accessories with “wordplay”.  Think of a beanie or jewelry with wording that expresses your style or personality.

 

6. Midi Leather Skirt + Blouse

Look of Leather 6

Think of the midi skirt as the one your mother used to wear.  This ladylike classic hits around shin length and is the perfect combination of sophisticated, ladylike, and sexy.

For the skirt:

  • Don’t be afraid of color.  Colored leather for fall is a chic way to add leather pieces to your wardrobe.  Navy, coffee, camel, and plum are excellent color choices for a midi leather skirt because it will look haute for many seasons to come.  These colors also coordinate well with lighter and darker tones.
  • Don’t be afraid of detail.  Think “femme fatale” and go for details that really emphasize a small waist or gorgeous gams.  Think of a bow accent on the waist or a killer split in the back that shows off beautiful legs.  Just keep it ladylike and don’t go too extreme.
  • Ensure proper fit.  Nobody looks good in a skirt that makes them look like a stuffed sausage!  Conversely, no woman looks good in a skirt that looks like she can hula hoop in it. This is especially important when buying a leather skirt as anything that’s wrong with fit will be magnified even more in this material.

For the blouse:

  • Don’t be afraid of details.  I’m a huge fan of bow collars and embellished necklines on blouses.  This is a wonderful accent when paired with a leather skirt.  It helps with proportion and silhouette.
  • Silk is the best choice.  Actually any silky or lightweight fabric is a nice contrast and compliment to a midi leather skirt.  Go for silk, satin, or charmeuse that lends a soft touch and polished finish.
  • Contrast the colors.  Since your leather midi skirt is a dark color for fall, choose a lighter color as a contrast.  This lends more femininity and “softness” to the look as well.  A shirt in a matching shade can look too intimidating with the skirt.

Finishing touches:

  • Pump it up.  Go for high heels with this look.  Make sure you’re comfortable, but this look works best with sky high stilettos that add to the blend of femininity and femme fatale being captured.
  • Let your bag make a statement.  No fashonistas wardrobe is complete without a statement bag for every season!  To keep it classic an easy tip is to stick with colors you’ll wear most of the season.
    • For instance a statement bag in patchwork black, grey and navy is versatile yet fabulous and will go with many looks throughout the fall/winter seasons if you have a lot of black, grey and navy clothes in your closet.
  • Glam it up.  In this case I’m talking about pattern, print and contrast. Don’t go crazy with it but adding a bit of detail in subtle ways (as in a shirt with detail) can really pull together this look.

 

7. Pastel Leather

Look of Leather 7

When you think of leather you think of tough and edgy, which is usually the case.  However to really make a statement picking pieces in a pastel leather not only makes leather easier to add to your fall wardrobe, but it also makes it versatile enough to add to your spring and summer wardrobe as well!

For the pastel leather:

  • Accessories are best.  Accessories such as handbags, bracelets, belts, and hair accessories are the best investment when it comes to choosing pieces in pastel leather.  They can be added to all different types of looks without being overpowering.
  • Think footwear.  A few pairs of shoes in pastel leather is a must for a fashionista on the go.  Ballet flats or sleek pumps are your most wearable options.
  • Rouge, blanc and bleu.  Blush, pearl, and baby blue are the pastel colors that will give you the most wear.  Light green, lilac, and light yellow are beautiful pastel colors but won’t give you as many style options and don’t pair as well with darker colors.

 

8. Fringe Leather Boots + Dark Denim Jeans

Look of Leather 8

If your style is bohemian, hippie, disco-inspired, or L.A. in the 1980’s fringe is likely your friend:-)  However even if none of these describe your personal style, adding fringe for fall adds definite interest to your look.

For the boots:

  • Keep the color dark.  Black is the best choice here but a dark brown will also work well. Remember, the fringe is already the accent so you don’t need to pick an exotic color.  Also you want to be able to wear these boots next fall as well!
  • Keep the heel high.  Whether you like skinny stiletto heels or chunkier Cuban heels, go for the maximum height you’re comfortable walking in.  I advise this because a fringe boot that is too low or flat will give you the look of a moccasin and, unless your going for a tribal inspired theme, will take your outfit in the wrong direction.
  • Make sure the boots are comfortable.  With any footwear comfort and proper fit are key. You should be able to comfortably wear and walk in your fringe leather boots for at least two hours.  If you can’t you may want to size up or pick a different boot.

For the jeans:

  • Choose jeans that flatter your figure.  If skinny jeans don’t work for you, then choose the style that does.  Bootcut is universally flattering.
  • Wash before wearing.  I advise this for any jeans but especially dark and black rinses.  Turn your jeans inside out and run through the rinse cycle with a tablespoon of white vinegar to rinse out any excess dye that would potentially rub off the first time you wear them.  Tumble dry jeans on low heat maybe once before letting them air dry.  I’ve found this to be the best way to preserve my jeans.
  • Highlight your assets.  Whether you have fabulous buns, long shapely legs, or a tiny waist even Jessica Rabbit would kill for, choose jeans that highlight your best assets.  The fit should flatter your height and silhouette.

Finishing touches:

  • Choose pieces that compliment your fringe leather boots.  I like pairing this with a floppy hat and cool shirt with details for a polished bohemian look.
  • Back to black.  Keeping this look all in black with only the dark denim jeans to break it up is perfectly ok.
  • Minimal accessories.  When you wear fringe boots, you want that to be the highlight of the look.  Therefore I suggest wearing little to no accessories to draw attention away from these fab boots!

Still need a few more hints on how to wear leather for the fall/winter season?

Check out some additional fashion advice I found on the web.

Now you’re more than ready to shop hot leather looks for your closet.

Don’t wait, shop the lookbook below for fun, fabulous and functional looks!

Leather Looks for Fall_KR Lookbook_9.24.14

 

 

photo credit: Idhren via photopin cc

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