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I have, let’s say, an extensive boot collection. So extensive, in fact, that I was told off by both of my parents for bringing home more boots when I was in college. But now that I’m an adult, I need to take stock of everything I own and access any gaps in my collection. And if there's any single type of boot that I need to pick up this season, it’s a pair of knee-high boots.
Luckily for me (and unfortunately for my bank account), knee-high boots were everywhere on the runways for the Fall/Winter 2023 season. Some designers, like Acne Studios and Dion Lee, showed slender stiletto heels. Others, including Proenza Schouler, A.W.A.K.E Mode, and Celine sent slouchier versions down their runways. Finally, SIMKHAI, Christian Dior, and Chloé all showed flat and lug-sole and combat boots. And while I do love a heeled option from time to time, I am partial to a flat ankle boot that I can wear all season without risking my feet getting cold and without my feet aching by noon. And unlike over-the-knee boots, a classic knee-high pair works well for a multitude of occasions, from the office to a night out.
As with a great pair of loafers and the perfect pair of ballet flats, knee-high boots top my list of shoes I need to invest in this autumn. I consider them to be one of the building blocks of my forever wardrobe. And while my horse-girl roots are drawing me towards a classic flat riding boot, I have been inexplicably drawn to a boot not commonly found in my wardrobe—Western and cowboy-inspired styles are all over my Instagram saved folder.
No matter which iteration you're personally shopping this season, keep scrolling. All of these come editor-recommended—and we shop for a living.
If you dress in all neutrals and are looking for accessories to boost the amount of color in your wardrobe, the STAUD Wally boots are for you. This cult-favorite pair of boots is the ideal wear-everywhere option. The heel clocks in at just over two inches and it comes in several colors, including this burgundy suede and an olive green, plus a classic black option, too.
Customer Review: "Just generally a gorgeous boot - simple, clean lines. Sexy without being over-the-top, can still wear to work. COMFORT, easy walking, stable heel and well-balanced overall. I'm always a 9 in shoes, and went with a 39.5. Could have done a 40 but figured they'd stretch a bit. As shoes go, this one is slightly narrow and the toe area is narrow/long, but that's excellent for my feet. The mahogany was the color I ordered - on some sites, color seems almost purple, but is a true brown, a really nice color. Goes with everything. Highly recommend." — Saks Fifth Avenue
Wearing white after Labor Day is completely fine—especially when you wear these white croc-printed stiletto boots from Coconuts by Matisse. These boots are available to shop in sizes 5.5 through 11—yes, they come in half sizes! While I personally think that these would look great with an all-black outfit—I love the contrast—you could also wear them with a lighter-toned outfit that comes in winter-white shades like cream or even a slate gray. Reviews do say they run small, though.
Customer Review: I just got these in and they are gorgeous! quality is amazing, but sadly too small. i have narrow feet and they were barely fitting width-wise, but the shoe size was off by maybe a whole size… very small! i usually wear a 7.5 and am going to re-order in an 8.5 to be safe especially with wearing socks.
If you're reading this between the months of August and April, there's a 95 percent chance I'm wearing a pair of boots from La Canadienne. I have a version of this lug-soled pair that doesn't come with shearling on the inside and they are, hands down, the most comfortable pair of boots I own. These have lasted me through 18-hour days of running around during New York Fashion Week and show virtually zero signs of wear. The leather has not once left a blister in the year I've had them. This shearling pair comes in two colors (brown and black,) and I think I may need to splurge on them for even more comfort.
Models donned all-white sheer layers at perennial cool-girl brand Proenza Schouler for the Fall/Winter 2023 season and accessorized with coordinating white chunk lug-sole knee-high boots like this pair from Charles & Keith. These under-$100 boots also have a teeny tiny cutout just below the knee. While they aren't available in half sizes, you can shop them in sizes 5 through 11 now. Or, if you're a black boot collector like I am, they also come in that hue, too.
Meet the ideal riding boot from Frye. Available in three colors (this black version and two brown shades) and retailing for just shy of $300, these are the timeless staple your wardrobe is missing—and you can shop them in sizes 5.5 through 11 now. The shaft measures 15.5 inches high and is wider through the calf with an oblong design. I would go full boho and style these with a pair of knee-high socks peeking out from underneath.
Yeehaw! These suede boots from Paris Texas are, in my opinion, the adult-ified way to master the Western boot trend. These sit just under your knee and have a divot at the front that makes your legs look even longer. Plus, the small heel is ideal for all-day wear. I would personally tuck a pair of skinny or straight-leg jeans into the jeans for a cool-girl look that doesn't look too styled. Or, lean into the cowgirl aesthetic and wear it with a prairie-inspired white skirt or flouncy dress.
These boots from Jeffrey Campbell scream '70s fashion. The enlarged buckle detail and thick, sturdy heel are begging to be paired with a boho-inspired frock or a supremely cozy sweater dress and tights. While I am partial to the black pair, they also come in an equally-cool white suede colorway. They’re available in sizes 5 through 11 including most half-sizes and have an easy pull-on style—no zippers required! The soft leather looks like it will show signs of wear with time, which is truly one of my favorite things about it.
Follow in Acne Studios' footsteps and pick up a pair of snake-print boots from brands like Schutz. This pair has been a fashion and influencer favorite and comes in tons of colors and prints, some of which are currently on sale. The heel measures 3.5 inches, so it's a good option for those of us who are not constantly heel-wearers. The shaft of this boot is also shorter than others on this list, clocking in at 14.5 inches, so it's also great if you're on the shorter side.
Customer Review: "These boots are even better in person. Great quality. The boots stand up well and don't slouch while wearing. The block heel is also very comfortable. I am normally between a 7.5 and 8, and the 8 fits me perfectly (the 7.5 was too tight on my toes). I didn't think the shaft of the boot was particularly narrow— I am able to wear these with jeans no problem." — Nordstrom
Not many things can be dubbed as actually timeless, but I swear I've wanted these boots for nearly a decade and a half. And, after all these years of pining and saving all my pennies, I might actually make the splurge this fall. They're made from buttery-soft leather panels for added comfort, and have a low-enough heel for long-haul wear. They fit so close to the leg, making them perfect for wearing under just about anything. The silhouette is the epitome of trendless shopping, so no wonder they’ve been a constant on my to-buy list for so long.
If you're over wearing the same black and warm-toned brown boots, consider this mushroom-hued pair from Franco Sarto. They're well-priced at $215, are practically flat, and fit close to the leg so they're great for wearing with just about every skirt or dress. They're also available in a wide range of colors—six to be exact—including a plum brown so dark it reads as black in the right light. It also maintains its shape and won’t slip down your leg as you move throughout the day.
These under-$300 cowboy-adjacent boots from Marc Fisher LTD are the perfect medium between a cowboy boot and a regular riding boot. Available in two colors, they have the pointed toe and stacked heel of a Western boot without the bells and whistles that they normally come adorned with. The only hint of drama comes from the ever-so-slight ruffling at the sides. These are officially the quiet luxury version of the Western boot trend..
How to Style Knee-High Boots
Like the rest of the basics in your shoe wardrobe, there are nearly endless ways to style knee-high boots. But, I turned to trend forecaster and founder of JMR Trend + Creative Jessica Richards for insight on how to make them feel fresh for the new season ahead. "As a huge fan of the "no-pants" look, wearing knee-high or over-the-knee boots this fall creates the illusion of coverage—and maybe even a little extra warmth in later fall—while still allowing for the look of bareness," she says, alluding to the fact that micro shorts and mini skirts have continued their reign over the fashion set in 2023. "This styling trend has been around, but it continues to work because of the role it has in 2023's love of silhouette play of layering extremes: an oversized blazer or oxford shirt over an exposed bralette, a mini skirt or short with an oversized belt, and a chic pair of knee-high boots."
Meet The Expert
Jessica Richards is a trend forecaster, style storyteller, and founder of JMR Trend + Creative, whose synergistic focus inspires what is now and next. With an extensive background in forecasting, concepts, and design for major North American retailers, she brings a forward-thinking yet commercial and brand-right viability to projects across the fashion and wellness
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Julia Marzovilla is the E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers everything from the latest beauty and fashion launches and sales to celebrity outfits and news. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and STYLECASTER. In her spare time, Julia can be found creating shopping guides for all of her friends, spending too much money on yet another pair of black boots, and cooking in her far-too-small kitchen.
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