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how toTuesday, December 22, 2020

Over-the-Knee and Knee-High Boots: A Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

WORDS BY STEPHEN YU

It’s the boot trend that rears its head every single winter, and the one that people seem to find the hardest to nail, but as we’re looking to put 2020 behind us, we’re declaring 2021 the unofficial year of knee-high boots and their sexier little sisters –– over knee boots.

 

But don’t just take our word for it, brands like Proenza Schouler, Victoria Beckham and Khaite seem to think so too –– their runways were filled with ladies knee-high boots and we like to think they know a thing or two about fashion. And though a classic and timeless pair of knee-high boots never go out of style (and nor can you have too many), it’s Bottega Veneta’s square toe thigh-high boots that have really got tall boots trending again. Wearing them bare-legged with knee skimming shirts and minidresses, or chunky knitwear and even oversized shirting and tailoring seems to be how the fashion editors and influencers are styling it, but whatever the combo, it all looks good. Basically, you can’t go wrong. 

 

Whether you’re looking for knee-high boots with a heel or something more sultry (an over the knee boot perhaps?), or just something to go with your skinny jeans, we’ve got a pair of knee-length boots for everyone. And even luckier for you, we’ve got some of our most stylish friends to help you on how best to wear this tricky boot trend no matter your body shape or leg length, and along the way they’ll be answering all your most pressing questions about knee-high boot sizing, fit and styling. Time to channel your inner Ariana and invest in a trend that will see you through to the end of spring.

 

Mecca James-Williams (@meccajw)

 

Creative and Stylist based in New York

 

Talk us through your choice of product and the way you’ve chosen to style it.

For my first outfit, I chose a monochromatic outfit with a Nanushka knit dress. The high front slit really helps to show off the height of the boot. I paired the dress with a vintage leather jacket and a croc-effect bag to add a few dimensions to my outfit. It’s cosy and fun, with the boots being the main attraction. 

 

For my last look, I wore the boots under some Jacquemus trousers for an additional layer to battle the cold. I paired them with a vintage military puffer and the Loewe Ballon bag to add a nice pop of colour. The shape and colour of the boots really add a nice accent to this classic look.

 

How do you style knee-high boots for your body shape/leg length?

I like to style knee-high boots with skirts and dresses. They add another dimension to simple silhouettes and are truly the perfect layering shoe. For my curvy shape, I like to let my shoes be the base of my bottoms rather than adding pants underneath. 

 

Which heel and shaft height do you usually go for and why? 

I like to go big or go home, that’s why these Proenza Schouler Boots are my favourite. They go super high up the thigh sitting above the knee, yet can also be scrunched to a variety of different lengths depending on the outfit. For heel height, I like a medium heel that can be worn throughout the day with comfort. 

 

On what types of occasions do you wear knee-high boots?

These boots are pretty versatile. They can be worn for dressed-up occasions with dresses and gowns when you want to dress down, or they can be worn with trousers and skirts to add a nice fun element. 

 

In terms of sizing, do you go true to size, size up or down? 

I went true to size for these boots. As I’m a big Proenza fan, I knew the leather would stretch enough over my thigh and calf. Typically though, with shoes that go over the leg, I go a size up to account for my leg proportions. 

 

When it comes to fit, do you prefer your knee-high boots to fit loose or tight around the leg and why? 

I like to have the option of both. If I want them to fit tight, I'll wear these boots all the way up the thigh; if I want a looser fit I'll scrunch them down to the knee. 

Charlotte Buttrick (@charlottebuttrick)

 

Fashion and Lifestyle YouTuber based in Manchester

 

Talk us through your choice of product and the way you’ve chosen to style it.

I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the Bottega Veneta Lug boots since I first discovered them last autumn/winter. When I first saw this over-the-knee pair I instantly fell for their edgy yet classic aesthetic and wanted to invest in a pair to style with knitwear, dresses, and skirts.

 

How do you style knee-high boots for your body shape/leg length?

The general rule of thumb is to find the perfect pair of knee-high boots that sit either perfectly below your knee cap, or comfortably above the knee without either cutting into the back of your knees or falling down. If they sit at an awkward height it can feel uncomfortable or look less flattering. Being tall, I found it hard in the past to find a pair of over the knee boots that are actually long enough to go over my knees –– which is one of the reasons why these Bottega boots are so perfect for my 5 ft 9 frame.

 

Which heel and shaft height do you usually go for and why? 

To be honest, I rarely wear heels as I find flat shoes so much more comfortable. But when I do go for a pair of heeled shoes they’ll always be a small stiletto or block heel with a maximum height of 3 inches, as I find them easier to walk in and more comfortable. Sometimes I wear heels for dinner, drinks and formal occasions or to dress up a pair of jeans and a blazer.

 

In terms of sizing, do you go true to size, size up or down? 

It depends on the brand but I usually have to size up in shoes, especially if they don’t have much give as I have a large UK size 8 feet. I do find that Italian shoes like Gucci, Balenciaga, or Bottega Veneta are more generous in sizing so with them I stay true to size. With the Bottega boots I could even afford to go down half a size, but I prefer to have an index finger’s worth of room at the end of my toes especially boots as you can always wear insoles or thicker socks.

 

When it comes to fit, do you prefer your knee-high boots to fit loose or tight around the leg and why? 

Personally, I prefer them to have a tighter fit so that they have more structure so they stay up and fall down less. Also, if they’re leather or suede they’re likely to give a little over time.

Emma Fridsell (@emmafridsell)

 

Fashion Instagrammer based in Stockholm

 

Talk us through your choice of product and the way you’ve chosen to style it.

The knee-high boots from Ganni are the main event of this outfit. Starting with these, I chose pieces that were going to complement them well. Personally, I love matching yellow and blue therefore a classic pair of blue jeans were the perfect choice. My favourites are this pair of Acne jeans that I bought on FARFETCH a few seasons ago. To continue with the colour I chose a lighter yellow for the cardigan which is also from Ganni. It’s getting colder here in Sweden so a woolly layer is a smart choice. To tie the look together I added some white accessories. I’m not a big fan of the darkness of winter, so to compensate I’m gravitating towards lighter colours right now. 

 

How do you style knee-high boots for your body shape/leg length?

My go-to look when I wear knee-high boots is usually colourful yet clean. I want them to be the statement piece and I don’t want the outfit to become too messy or heavy. Pieces should not compete; they should complement each other. My perfect look is therefore a colourful polo put together with a good pair of jeans –– a pair that are not too tight yet not too loose. In Swedish, I would say they need to be ‘lagom’, a word that doesn’t exist in English but basically means ‘just in-between’. Then, to top it off I’d need a beret in a bright colour as well and a pair of statement earrings to go with it, and right now I’m obsessed with hoops.

 

Which heel and shaft height do you usually go for and why? 

I go for a low heel (almost non-existent) and a high shaft. My Ganni boots are perfect. Why? Simply because I hate walking in high heels. To me it has never seemed worth it, I love to dance for hours and I love taking long walks and I would never sacrifice those things on a Friday night just so I can become a few inches taller. However, a high shaft balances out a low heel. All of a sudden, I’m wearing a proper shoe even though I’m actually wearing something that’s almost as comfortable as a sneaker. They’re perfect for a long Saturday shopping spree as well as a dancing date with a friend.

 

In terms of sizing, do you go true to size, size up or down?

I would say it depends on the boot. To begin with, I never let my toe hit the front of the boot. However, if it’s a more oversized boot I recommend you don’t size up, simply because they’ll probably be a little bit heavier due to the increased size, and if they then fit big, they won’t be shoes that you’ll be comfortable walking in. To conclude, you should prioritise a shoe that fits almost slightly tight on your actual foot. If you’re in between sizes I’d recommend you get an extra insole, as this will make your boots so much easier to walk in. 

 

When it comes to fit, do you prefer your knee-high boots to fit loose or tight around the leg and why? 

I personally like them to fit a little loose. The reason why is simple, I’ve never and will never be a fan of clothes that limit me and that’s something I feel that tighter boots do. Not specifically physically, but rather restrictive in terms of what I can wear together with them –– a looser boot gives me more options. I love being able to tuck in loose pants for example, and that’s something I wouldn’t be able to do if the boots weren’t loose. Also, Puss in Boots, enough said.

Gabriella Zacche (@gabriellazacche)

 

Sustainable Jewellery Brand Owner and Fashion YouTuber based in New York

 

Talk us through your choice of product and the way you’ve chosen to style it.

I invested in these boots because they're so versatile, stylish, and classy, but at the same time very comfortable and appropriate for day-to-day activities. They elevate any casual look I wear, and the monogramming adds some flair to them. I also love that the monogram is only on the back of the boots, it’s a subtle detail that's not so 'in your face'. I always like to style these boots with casual outfits. An option that looks really interesting is to style them with jeans (I usually wear them with my black jeans) and a shirt for an equestrian-style vibe. 

 

How do you style knee-high boots for your body shape/leg length?

I'm on the shorter side, so I prefer to style knee-high boots with shorter skirts, dresses, or high-waisted shorts to elongate my silhouette. My ideal pairing is a nice chunky knit with paper bag shorts. For me, it's all about the balance –– since the Fendi Rococos are tighter to the leg, I always go for looser or oversized tops and bottoms when I'm wearing them. Also, I know that styling knee-high boots with tailored pants is trending right now, but I prefer to style these with looser calf boots to achieve a more harmonious look.

 

Which heel and shaft height do you usually go for and why? 

I like to have both high and low-heeled knee-high boots. It really depends on the occasion and on the outfit. If I were to invest in one pair right now, I’d go for a low-heeled pair that sit just under the knee. As for the shaft height, being short, I always want to elongate my legs, and I usually achieve that when the shaft is longer. So, I like my knee-high boots to sit either right under the knee or just above it. For the heel, given the current situation, you ideally want to buy shoes that suit a more casual way of dressing and are comfortable at the same time, which is why I’d choose lower heels. You can also opt for chunky soles that’ll give you both comfort and increased height, and because of their versatility, you can basically wear them anywhere –– from a business meeting in the morning to an event at night. 

 

In terms of sizing, do you go true to size, size up or down? 

For knee-high boots, I always size up. My biggest tip for everyone who has thicker calves is to size up so that the shaft will have a better fit on your legs. Also, when the boots don't have a zipper, it's easier to put them on when they're at least one size up. Lastly, as we tend to wear boots when the weather is colder, it's always nice to leave some extra room for a chunky pair of socks. When buying a new pair of boots I always try to look at the reviews and on the description box of the retailer's website to see if there's any advice on the fit before deciding if I should size up or just stay true to size (I hardly ever size down on boots to leave room for the socks). 

 

When it comes to fit, do you prefer your knee-high boots to fit loose or tight around the leg and why? 

I usually prefer them to fit loosely around the calves, mostly because my calves are on the thicker side and sometimes it gets really uncomfortable when the boots fit too tight around them. When they have a looser fit, it also gives the illusion that my legs are thinner and more elongated, and I really like that. The advantage of these Fendi Rococos is that the whole back part is elastic, so they fit much more comfortably around my calves and don't create that 'muffin top' look. 

Veronique Tristram (@veroniquetristram)

 

Stylist, Creative and Fashion Consultant based in Paris

 

Talk us through your choice of product and the way you’ve chosen to style it.

I chose to wear my black suede over-the-knee Maison Margiela boots with the iconic ‘Tabi’ fully visible, I never hide them under a longer skirt or coat. I like the fact that you can see that they’re thigh-high. I style them with either a short (but not tight) skirt in a neutral colour and heavy fabric, revealing a tiny glimpse of skin when you move, or more extravagantly I wear them over silk harem pants for a seventies vibe. The boots end at the very low crotch of the pants, which gives a nice aesthetic. Since over-the-knee boots are quite sexy, I obviously try to calm things down by wearing cosy slightly oversized pieces on top, like the tweed jacket,  or the knit and leather vest, and the sleeveless baggy grey coat.

 

How do you style knee-high boots for your body shape/leg length?

In my opinion, over-the-knee boots should be reserved only for those with slim legs –– it’s a requirement when wearing them. Even if you’re not tall (like me, I’m 1.68 m), they still look good because they tend to elongate the leg. Knee-high boots are even more democratic, boots that end just below the knee fit all legs and body shapes. In both cases, you can style them with however you want –– with long or short skirts and dresses, or with Bermudas and even shorts.

 

That being said, I follow two rules: 1) the shorter the skirt or the shorts, the looser the shape and fit of the boots. As I don’t have an androgynous body type I avoid anything looking overly sexy –– a short tight skirt with knee-high or over-the-knee boots would look vulgar on me. And 2) with knee-high boots one should wear pieces which either cover the knees or are very short (at most mid-thigh) with a nice pair of woollen tights. If you wear a skirt ending just above the knee, it diverts all the attention to the not-so-nice part of your body (the knee) making almost every leg look bulky. If you love this skirt length (just above the knee) then the over-the-knee boots are your best option for winter.

 

Which heel and shaft height do you usually go for and why? 

I tend to go for a higher heel with knee-high boots and for a flatter one with over-the-knee boots. But every rule has its exceptions –– I also love a beautiful flat black knee-high riding boot as well as over-the-knee boots with a higher heel, as long as it’s a chunky block heel.

 

Working in fashion, I’m lucky enough to wear whatever I want whenever and wherever I want. Over-the-knee and knee-high boots are more relevant for urban lifestyles (which is exactly my case) rather than to rural ones –– except maybe the riding boots.

 

In terms of sizing, do you go true to size, size up or down? 

I always go true to size and would NEVER buy a size down –– it hurts and you’ll never get used to them, nor will the shoes stretch out enough to feel comfortable. I’m an Italian size 38 and I always buy my shoes and boots in that size. If my size is unfortunately sold out, I’ll look for another style where my size might be available. I also avoid buying boots a size up. You may think at first that having more space will feel comfortable, but when your feet aren’t properly held in your boots they slide back and forth with every pace –– this makes it difficult to walk, especially with a higher heel, and you end up with blisters due to the friction. You see it’s not really an option.

 

I know the reasons people give to justify buying one size up –– in winter you may want to wear a thicker sock. But beautiful knee-high or over-the-knee boots are not the sporty types of shoes you wear with skiing socks, and for normal wool or cashmere socks you’ll have enough space already. If not, it’s because you tend to buy your shoes too small. One should always be able to move the toes inside the boot. I always keep a couple of millimetres of space between my big toe and the end of the boot.

 

When it comes to fit, do you prefer your knee-high boots to fit loose or tight around the leg and why? 

Concerning the fit around the leg, I make a distinction between the over-the-knee boots and the high-knee boots ending exactly under your knee-bone.

 

For the former it’s quite easy, the only option is a tight fit –– nobody wants to look like a musketeer –– and as I’ve already mentioned, a thigh-high fitted boot in a smooth stretchy leather with a darker nuance elongates your leg in a very effective way.

 

As for the knee-high boot, you have both options available. But, since my calves are not as slender as I’d like them to be (34 cm calf circumference) I prefer my knee-high boots to have a looser fit. My impression is that it makes your calves –– and in fact your whole leg –– look slimmer, and the knee itself also looks smaller.

 

 

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