The Velvet Boots
This blog began with a pair of boots.
Completely impractical, unabashedly fabulous, bold, slightly-too-high, not even remotely weatherproof, oh-so-eye-catching, velvet ankle boots.
I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack with my 21-year old daughter Christi, who has an excess of style sense, but virtually no style "cents" (e.g. she's a broke college student).
The thing about Christi is that she doesn't allow her pecuniary insufficiencies to crimp her absolute commitment to looking amazing - on her own terms. She'll find a way to stand out, on any budget, for any occasion, no matter what. It's how she rolls...it's who she is.
On this particular afternoon, we were just enjoying a mother-daughter mall meander, out so see if anything caught our eye, at a price two broke girls could afford. We found our fateful way to the Rack and were immersed in the rows of shoes at the back of the store, when she spotted them. Velvet heeled ankle boots. One pair. My size. And the "kicker": a rather gorgeous and most statement-making shade of rust orange.
"Mom, you have to get these!" She was authoritative. I was skeptical. I tend toward "stylish shoes in safe hues "- black, navy, taupe.... pacifist tones that will meekly acquiesce to whatever outfit I throw on with them. Certainly not these.
But what I saw as wardrobe outlier, Christi saw as a fashion Home Run. She thoughtfully and methodically laid out the use cases: "You can wear them with skinny jeans, a black pencil skirt... a sweater dress. You'll wear them all season long and they'll elevate any outfit you put on. If you are going to spend money today, spend it on something really unique. These have STYLE."
Wow. Out of the mouths of fashionista babes.
Christi was so convinced (and convincing) that I tried them on....and discovered I could actually walk in them. I gamely placed these little paragons of impracticality in my basket and figured I'd appease her, wear them once, and consign them.
Those boots challenged me. They made me think outside the shoe box. After all, while they weren’t horribly expensive, they did roughly equal the cost of her monthly utility bill at her college apartment so, I figured I should at least try to actually wear them once, right? And, I had to justify the space they’d take up in my overfilled closet. I went home and, in the next week, tried pairing them with everything I could think of. They were SO out in left field, they were actually...fun!
I put them on and started exploring the possibilities. They made me pull old things from the back of my closet and pair them with recent acquisitions, like a black and gold chain print dress and black fedora, both of which had been gathering dust. A pair of pants I hadn't thought about in months caught my eye and showed a sudden flirtatious affinity for a sweater I'd bought on impulse. Like a modern-day matchmaker, those boots pulled the 2 pieces together and took them from "Awkward Introduction" to "Power Couple" with perfect finesse. I threw on a slinky Autumn-hued bodycon dress I'd never worn, and added a tried-and-true Michael Kors denim jacket. The boots worked their magic and sprinkled swank over the whole ensemble.
Those rust-orange velvet ankle boots transformed my Paige skinny jeans, Kate Spade cheetah print handbag and a copper French Connection sweater - a consignment shop find - into a casual outfit with head-turning panache. Oh my!
Every time I've worn those boots, total strangers have come up to me and complimented me...not just on the boots (though they do receive their share of accolades), but on my whole ensemble. And you know what? It’s a nice feeling!
I think that what those boots did was make me re-imagine my style. They made me look at my closet with new eyes - and made my velvet-clad feet take a long-overdue step out of my fashion comfort zone. And honestly it's been pretty fun! After all, what we wear doesn't define us… but it certainly and powerfully can express us - on any given day, in any mood or moment.
That's what I love about style, and it's derivative, fashion. It's another, visual voice through which we can speak on our own terms to a world that would otherwise relegate us to humdrum check-boxes like size, age and shape.
Since that memorable shopping day, I've developed rather a soft spot for velvet ankle boots...(I've bought a navy pair and a floral printed pair from other designers). And, I've had a whole lot of fun exploring all kinds of style that together, seem to express me, at this point in my life, with the passions and commitments that shape my days.
Christi and I move in two pretty different worlds. She's my daughter, a young woman just embarking on her independent adult life. In many ways, she's still figuring herself out and defining her personal style. I'm her mom, an adult woman with seasons of life and personal style already under my belt. And, the unvarnished truth is, I'm still figuring things out, too. We are both the same in some important ways: when we wake up tomorrow, it will be a brand new day for each of us...for all of us, actually.
Are you like Christi and me? Do you have a multifaceted life, a passion for personal expression, and a love of style? Then join us! This blog is born of exploring fashion and faraway places, starting some conversations, putting together some kick-ass outfits, and living with authenticity...and (of course) - style!
- The ankle boots I write about in this post are from Steve Madden, available at Nordstrom Rack. Other go-to brands for comfy and well-designed ankle boots are Sam Edelman, Vince Camuto, Dolce Vita and Sole Society.
Booties vs. Ankle Boots
Technically, ankle boots extend 1-4" above the ankle, while "booties" end right at or below the ankle. Either look is versatile; here are some tips for wearing them:
- I prefer ankle boots that are curved in, or somewhat fitted, over the ankle. I find that short boots that are slouchy or boxy around the ankle just don't flatter the natural shape of a woman's leg, and, unless you're wearing wide bootcuts or flares, they tend to compete with the hem of pants and look sloppy. The exception is a pointy-toe, heeled boot where the shaft is more structured. This style looks cute with tights and an above-the-knee hemline.
- Nude boots/booties that blend with your skin tone make legs look longer.
- Ankle boots look great with rolled up skinny jeans - roll the cuff so it just meets the top of the boot
- If you can pull off the cropped flare pants look, this style pairs well with ankle boots. Cropped pants look great on narrow hips/straight body types. If you're curvy like me, they're hard to pull off, but they look great on lean, vertical body types like Kayla, here:
- I love adding texture to outfits, which is why I like velvet boots. Other cool choices are perforated leather and embroidered or brocade booties.