Boots, Heels and Buckles, Oh, My!

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When designers at last spring’s New York Fashion Week rolled out their looks for fall and winter, footwear played a key role. Many designers avoided neutral styles in favor of colorful, fanciful silhouettes and bold colors and prints. There were plenty of the season’s staples–boots, pumps and athletic shoes–but with design details that make them a key accessory for the season.

Fleece, shearling and faux fur made a big appearance on the fall runways, showing up as strong trends for all kinds of footwear. From over-the-knee fleece-lined boots to fur-covered stilettos, you can expect to see plenty of UGG lookalikes in shoe stores this fall. Prints are another big trend for fall footwear. Expect to see shoes and boots sporting bohemian florals, vintage chintzes and ever-popular animal prints such as leopard and cheetah as well as trending prints such as zebra. Simulated snakeskin and crocodile skin in a variety of colors will also be popular shoe coverings for fall.
One of the trendiest boot looks on the runway was thigh-high fabric boots in a floral print that matched the model’s dress, shown by the Australian brand Zimmerman. Other designers showed over-the-knee leather boots in popping solid colors. If you want to try this look, wear tall boots with a midi skirt or dress instead of layering them over jeans, which is now a more dated look.

Another top trend for boots is the chunky platform sole. This youthful look has its origin in the creeper oxfords that Japanese kids have made popular in the last decade. You’ll see the new platform soles most often on Chelsea-style boots, which are typically close-fitting ankle boots with an elastic side panel.

At New York Fashion Week, luxury brand Burberry showed a comfortable-looking white Chelsea boot with a thick black sole and an insert of signature Burberry plaid fabric that’s sure to be imitated by shoe manufacturers in other fabrics and colors. Stella McCartney took it to another level with pull-on combat boots with thick black corrugated soles.

The oversized athletic shoes known as “dad sneakers” that were so popular last year are still a trend for fall and winter. Last year’s metallic sneakers are being replaced with neutral and multi-colored shoes featuring logos from brands such as Fila, Nike and Zara. You’ll also see the trend for floral and animal prints in sneakers from TopShop and Brazilian brand Schutz.

To counterbalance all the heavy-looking boots and sneakers, high-heeled shoes are taking a more feminine turn. Brightly colored pumps are a fall trend for both daytime and evening looks. Two of the top pump colors from Fashion Week were emerald green and violet, which were paired with tights in matching or contrasting colors. Bright shoes can become the focal point of an outfit when paired with neutral clothing. For example, Victoria Beckham showed a brown suit worn with bright yellow shoes and navy stockings.

When it comes to the pump silhouette, you’ll see platform soles paired with super-high heels as well as flat soles and slightly lower heels. Retro-style pumps with straps across the inset, widely known as Mary Janes, were shown in metallic leather in the Michael Kors and Anna Sui runway shows. Designers such as Versace and Dolce & Gabbana gave the traditional Mary Jane a new twist with pointy toes and curved kitten heels.

The mule, a backless pump or flat slip-on, was a popular trend in 2018 and will remain popular this year. Traditionally more a summer style, the mule gets a fall and winter makeover. You’ll see flat mules in leather as well as peep-toe heeled mules with leather and suede uppers. The fur trend also shows up in mules lined or trimmed with shearling or fleece. Mules work well with both pants and skirts and can be worn with socks or tights when the weather turns cold.

If there’s one thing you can say about women’s shoe heels in 2019, it’s that there is no “in” heel style. Some of the trendiest styles are described as architectural or sculptural, including ball heels, tapering block heels and clear Lucite high heels. Some styles lean more toward being a work of art than a functional piece of footwear. For those who prefer the comfort of flat shoes, dressy flats were featured on Fashion Week runways with every type of outfit, from Oscar de la Renta’s loafers shown with a ball gown by to menswear brogues worn with a maxi knit dress in the George Esquivel collection.

Probably the most popular shoe embellishment for 2019 is the buckle. From flats to stilettos, straps and buckles are used to add an edgy, traditional or glamorous touch. You can also expect to see feathers, embroidery, metal studs and rhinestones decorating this season’s footwear. ■

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