Your Guide to the Wonderful (but Confusing) World of Boots

Your Guide to the Wonderful (but Confusing) World of Boots

Chelsea Boots, booties, and gumboots are just some of the words that shoe manufacturers use to divvy up their inventory, and if you do not know exactly what you are looking for, it can make navigating all of these technical terms a real headache. This quick guide will get you up to speed with the latest lingo, trends, and fashion in general so that you can spend your time looking for new kicks instead of looking up words in a dictionary. 


Heeled Boots


Heeled boots come in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes, but if you understand the differences between high-heel, square-heel, Cuban-heel, and slim-heel boots, you will be ahead of the game. The easiest to spot are slim-heel boots: think a stiletto but in the form of a boot. These have long thin heels that really make a strong statement. High-heel boots can be used as a blanket term, but usually will refer more specifically to a boot with a tallish heel that is wide enough to make wearing them less of an adventure than their slim-heel sisters. Square-heel boots are a close cousin of regular block-heels – they have a shorter and wider heel that is roughly… well, square-shaped. Cuban-heel boots can be a bit difficult to recognize because the primary feature that distinguishes them is that the heels are closer to the center of the foot to provide more support and control while dancing. Of course, even if you are a wallflower, Cuban-heel boots still look great and are an easy way to add a Latin vibe to any outfit.  


Booties/Ankle Boots


As the name suggests booties (aka ankle boots) are boots that are smaller than regular boots and only go up to your ankle. There is a very good reason these boots are becoming increasingly popular: they are astonishingly versatile and go with everything. Pants, jeans, leggings, skirts, dresses, anything you can think of can go with the right pair of booties. 


Knee-high Boots


I am sure you have seen at least one picture of every celebrity you can think of wearing knee-high boots, and looking amazing while doing so. They make your legs look longer and are certainly attention grabbers. That said, you are probably never going to get these confused, so let’s talk about some types that might give you a bit more trouble. 


Chelsea Boots


You can think of these as akin to the Victorian lace-less boots you have probably seen many times before on royalty in period shows. Despite the fact that they date back so far, they remain popular today for their perfect combination of comfort, style, and practicality. You may sometimes see these advertised as lower leg length boots, but that is a mouthful and not nearly as cool sounding as Chelsea boots. 


Sneaker Boots


I know they sound like an oxymoron, but these are starting to really gain traction (no pun intended) in the fashion industry. They are certainly a more exciting, even edgy, look. They can complement skirts and dresses to give you a fun and adventurous tomboyish look. If you want to stand out from the crowd and express your personality, sneaker boots are a cool and creative choice.  




I don’t know why we can’t just all agree to call these “rain boots,” but I do at least get why they are called gumboots: the gummy material out of which they are often made has an unmistakable texture and is obviously perfect for keeping your feet dry. While these can be made out of almost anything, it is a good idea to get ones that are made out of natural materials or recycled plastic. These are a must-have: unless you are planning to live out the rest of your days in the Atacama Desert you will have to tromp through the rain at some time or another. 


No matter how much you ultimately know about boots, chances are that you will find new styles and substyles that you have never heard of before. Fashion and its terminology are always changing, but with a solid understanding of all of the popular boot styles we have covered here, you will rarely be left scratching your head.

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