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What Are Ankle Boots?

T. Alaine
T. Alaine

As the name suggests, ankle boots are a type of enclosed footwear whose top reaches approximately ankle height. Generally considered an element of women's fashion, these boots can be found in a wide variety of materials and are available in multiple heel heights. Ankle boots can be dressy or casual, and as a result they can be paired with lots of different outfits, aesthetics, and styles. One common caveat with short boots is that when worn incorrectly they can visually shorten the length of the wearer's leg and appear unflattering. There are, however, a few simple guidelines that can minimize this risk.

Dressy versions of ankle boots are often high-heeled and hit just below the ankle. Depending on the designer, the boots can be found in a multitude of colors, patterns, and fabrics. High-heeled versions can be an excellent, slightly edgier alternative to pumps or dress sandals when worn with a formal frock or outfit. Ankle boots with heels can also be worn to dress up slim fitting jeans or pants. It is particularly important to only wear slim fitting or "skinny" jeans with ankle boots. The excess fabric from wide-leg, flared, or boot cut pants is quite likely to bunch in an unflattering way when tucked into ankle boots, but wearing a fitted style will eliminate this problem.

Ankle boots may be formal or casual in style.
Ankle boots may be formal or casual in style.

Flat boots are usually more casual and more likely to rise to or slightly above the ankle. Ankle boots with low or flat heels are incredibly versatile and can be worn with dresses, skirts, shorts, or slim-cut pants. Casual flat boots are easy to walk in, but give off a more polished and stylish vibe than sneakers. Some styles of flat ankle boots might include moccasin styles, lace-up combat boots, or low rise cowboy boots.

Despite being incredibly versatile and fashionable, ankle boots can be difficult for some women to wear. Since these boots create a distinct division between the ankle and the rest of the leg, they might make legs look shorter or thicker than they really are. Women who are very tall and slim will have less difficulty finding flattering ways to wear ankle boots, but every body type can pull them off with the correct styling.

If a woman is wearing shorts, a skirt, or a dress with boots, she will appear the most long and lean in a style that is cut relatively low. Additionally, wearing bare legs with boots in a flesh tone, or wearing dark hosiery with dark boots will help elongate the legs. Tall women can wear longer hemlines, but short women wearing ankle height boots should stick to higher hemlines that reveal more of their legs. For pants, the aforementioned rule about avoiding bunching by wearing slim-fitting cuts is essential for a figure-flattering style.

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Discussion Comments


When you're like me and you're a member of the big legs club, ankle boots are great. I can wear boots, which I like, and don't have to worry about them fitting my large legs.

I wear straight leg jeans anyway, so the boots look fine. I'm not stupid enough to wear skinny jeans, so I don't have that albatross (or flared leg, for that matter). Straight legs create a unified leg line, and goodness knows I need it! I like leather ankle boots that come just over my ankles and have a nice cuff so I can wear my jeans over them, or tucked in.


When I was in high school, suede ankle boots were all the rage. I wanted a pair and finally saved enough babysitting money to get a pair in black. They had about 2-inch heels and I wore them with a lot of different outfits. Straight leg jeans were also the style, so tucking my jeans into my boots was not a problem.

I got a pair of black jeans and wore them with my boots. The boots had a cuff so you could wear them up or folded. I wore them up with my black jeans, and I thought I was red hot and smoking! Ah, youth.

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    • Ankle boots may be formal or casual in style.
      By: Andrey Bandurenko
      Ankle boots may be formal or casual in style.