Ask Allie – Fabrics that Compliment Knee High Boots

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Reader Amber writes:
What kin

d of dresses/skirts are appropriate with knee boots? Are you limited to heavy sweater dresses like?


wool dress tall boot



this (see left), or


 is matte jerse


y (such as you


r previously posted LBD selections OK?

Hi Amber:

This is a great question, and I bet many others are wondering the same thing.

I think knee


-high boots can work with a variety of fabrics; it's less about the actual fabric than the cut of the dress. Matte jersey, cotton knits and even silk can work with knee-high boots in leather and suede if cut in the correct silhouette.

The lighter weight the fabric, the more “sturdy” the silhouette needs to be to balance out a tall boot.

ralph lauren dress tall bootdonna morgan dress tall bootIf you are choosing matte jersey, finding a dress with an angular cut (shift dress or boxy style), or more girth (wrap dress, babydoll style with fuller skirt) can usually do the trick. Classic styles like a tee-shirt dress or wrap dress can work if they are low on frills and feminine touches. Strong details like wider self-belts and waistbands, smooth hems, v-neck, crew or boat necklines will balance out the substantial boot.

For knits and silk, you want to balance out the delicate fabric with a more modern or angular silhouette. A feminine close-fitting dress from a lightweight fabric can make the most elegant of tall boots look trashy and out of place (hello Pretty Woman). Choosing an a-line or trapeze silhouette, an empire waistband, or a layered style will compliment the study leather or suede on your bottom half.

silhouettes dress tall bootbanana republic dress tall bootI often pair tall boots with baby-doll style dresses in cotton jersey, sheath dresses from lined suiting fabric or sturdy ponte knit, matte jersey wrap dresses with long sleeves and clean lines, and straight or a-line skirts with figure-skimming knit tops.

Gray Merino Wool Belted dress from Semantiks, teal Sleeveless Knit Shift dress from Banana Republic, green matte jersey Tie-waist Wrap Style dress by Donna Morgan, black wool acetate Boat-neck Belted dress by Lauren by Ralph Lauren, gold A-line dress by Silhouettes.

You may also wish to visit:
The Not-So-Little Black Dress
Updates to the Little Black Dress
Reader Question: Summer Boots
A Wide Calf Boot Update
It's All About the Boots



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  1. LOVE your articles! Small thing, offered in same spirit you offer you wonderful advice to the rest of us (I write a gret deal for a living) — clothes do not “compliment” each other with an “i” — e.g. your skirt doesn’t talk to your boots and say “you look great today!” (OK, maybe it should.) What they do is complement each other (with an “e”), as in go well together. Or if you prefer envisioning politely chatty clothes, then by all means say “compliment.” Just please keep the great advice coming!

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  3. Thanks so much for this post. I love high boots (though my wide calves make it hard to find them) and yet sometimes I find it hard to know if they really work or not with my outfit.

    You look gorgeous, by the way. Pregnancy really agrees with you!


  4. This is an AWESOME post and really helps with my questions of what I can wear with my tall black boots. Thank you!

  5. I love dresses and skirts with knee high boots. And, I tried to buy the black Ralph Lauren dress–sadly, the dress in only available in a size 8. It is a GREAT dress and it looks fantastic with the boots.

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