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Item of the week: the over-the-knee boot

By Rachel Douglass


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(From left) Image: Kenneth Cole, Simmi, Stella McCartney

What it is:

The over-the-knee boot is essentially as the name suggests, over the knee, although there are many ways this can be interpreted. While the style is currently associated with female power and sex appeal, its roots stem from the creation of men’s riding boots in the 15th century, only being redefined as a woman’s fashion footwear option towards the end of the 20th century. Their over-the-top nature is favoured during the colder months, offering the wearer both a flattering silhouette and a warmer footwear alternative. Its popularity in fashion also comes down to celebrity endorsement, with many dramatic versions of the shoe style spotted on the likes of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians.
Image: Charles & Keith

Why you’ll want it:

The over-the-knee boot is the perfect footwear item for shoppers looking to add a bit of dramatic flair to their outfits. It is particularly popular during the autumn/winter seasons, offering a fashion-forward yet warm footwear option that is both flattering and, at times, comfortable. Next to celebrity sightings, the boot style has also been a prominent feature on AW22, marking it as potentially one of the top footwear silhouettes and suggesting that it will play a big part in seasons to come. Despite its presence on runways for the upcoming months, it is a shoe design that regularly returns to the forefront of fashion, rarely declining in popularity and continuously welcoming fresh adaptations for the new generation of shoppers.
Image: Chinese Laundry

Where we’ve seen it:

The over-the-knee boot was taken on by a huge number of designers for the AW22 season, many of which took the shoe to new lengths with sky high silhouettes. A particularly prominent design style was that of a more loose-fit boot, with leather-like materials often appearing as though they were sagging a little. Isabel Marant, Brandon Maxwell, Courrèges and Bottega Veneta were among those that adopted this style, each offering up dramatic thigh-high looks. In contrast, albeit also opting for extreme heights, Prabal Gurung, Coperni and Carolina Herrera stuck to more form-fitting silhouettes, also utilising leather-look materials for their simple designs. On the other hand, Chanel and Roberto Cavalli went in a very different direction for their over-the-knees, with the former displaying a wellington-inspired silhouette and the latter adding distinct floral embellishments throughout the design.
Image: Simmi

How to style it:

Often only considered as an eveningwear piece, the over-the-knee boot can also be sported for dailywear using simple, easy-to-throw-on garments that don’t complicate the statement shoe. Pair the boots with slim-fit jeans and a basic t-shirt for an elevated day outfit, perfect for running errands or going for lunch. Layer the look up with a long-line coat and simple accessories to take it into the winter months. For occasion wear and evening outfits, opt for a mini skirt and oversized blazer with a statement blouse or top. The over-the-knee style’s flattering characteristics are particularly present when paired with items that leave some space between the hem and the top of the boot.
Image: Dorothee Schumacher
The over-the-knee boot comes with an array of benefits for the wear – flattering, warm and daring – with new iterations rejuvenating the style for the younger generation of shoppers. Through designer adoption and celebrity endorsement, the dramatic footwear trend has once again returned to the forefront of fashion, as it continues to do year after year.
Image: Karl Lagerfeld

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Item of the Week