Giving Fall the Boot: The Short, Medium and Tall Approaches

Today we're going to talk about fall fashion, but not too loud--we don't want to scare away the cooler temperatures, okay? So let's not make too big a deal about the absolute, without-a-doubt, number one season of them all--autumn. No one wants to turn the air conditioning back on, do they? NO.

When it's time to shop for fall, it's always fun to work from the ground, up--literally. When you have a pair of great boots, you can move on to the best jeans, pants, and skirts to coordinate the look; further, you can try everything on with the boots, which comes in handy when determining fit and tailoring.

And no, there are no cowboy boots on this list--those count as year-round footwear here in Houston.

Get Some Bootie

Even if you're resistant to the short, bootie-style shoe, consider the practicality of them, especially here in Houston. There are plenty of warm winter days that are too hot to have a big ol' riding boot wrapped around your leg; booties give you coverage and height, without encasing you in leather up to the knee. They also look really cute with certain skirts, but be careful--a bootie with a too-long skirt can cut the leg line, making you appear shorter. Proceed with caution if you're petite.

• The sex appeal of these Nine West 'Brettly' Booties ($99, DSW.com) is undeniable, and the contrast of between the brown leather and the olive suede screams fall. • Spendy at $275, the 'Martie' Ankle Boot from J. Crew is sleek and sophisticated, and the low heel makes it very wearable. The black is sharp, but there is something eye-catching about the taupe cobblestone that we just love. • "Shooties" are just a bootie with a slightly lower cut, and they are a great option to pair with skirts and pants. These Vince Camuto 'Velino' shooties ($129, Zappos.com) are spectacular in dark brown suede and leather.

Finding Middle Ground

A mid-calf boot can be tricky. Some of us (short people) are afraid to wear them, but like anything the trick is to get the proportions right. You can wear them, but maybe not with a skirt that covers the top three inches of the boot, making you look like you're standing in a hole. A slim, calf-hugging stiletto boot paired with a slim-cut, knee-length skirt is one option; a slouchy, '80s-inspired pair over skinny jeans or tights is another.

• Yeah, yeah, we said no cowboy boots--but that doesn't mean no Frye boots! The 'Veronica Short' ($298, thefryecompany.com) is a best-seller, and it's not hard to see why. The distressed leather and antique brass hardware make these look vintage (in the best way) right out of the box. • If you're looking for something a little dressier, the Cameron Silver for Nine West 'Painted Heart' Boot ($148.95, Nordstrom.com) is a sleek and elegant option; stunning in dark grey suede, but also available in black leather for the traditionalists out there. • At 10 inches, this is on the tall side of "mid-calf" but the Timberland 'Savin Hill' Mid Boot ($180, shop.timberland.com) is an urban shoe with a rugged feel, thanks to lace-up styling and a giant buckle at the top of the shaft.

Stand Tall

And now, the trickiest boot of all--the tall boot. Like short and mid-calf lengths, the important thing for a riding boot is fit and proportion, but comfort is also going to be an issue here. A too-tall boot that hits at or above the knee may eventually cause discomfort or chafing, so for a classic look and fit look for something that hits a couple of inches under your knee.

• The Alice + Olivia 'Heather' Boot has a 17 inch shaft (measured from the top of the heel to the top of the boot), so this will be a mid-calf boot for some girls, and a taller boot for others. At $349.95 (dsw.com), it's a splurge--but a pretty justifiable one. • Everyone deserves a pair of classic riding boots, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more classic pair than these Tommy Hilfiger 'Hamden' Tall Riding Boots ($169.99 on sale, macys.com). They come in a black/cognac combination, as well as a cognac/brown. Gorgeous. • The most recent season of Project Runway has introduced us to Belk (via the accessory wall), so it's not surprising to find these runway-ready Kenneth Cole Reaction 'Kiss N Tell' Boots ($198, belk.com). The Reaction line is famously comfortable, and the three inch wedge heel will give you height without risking a runway wobble.

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