I Tried It: Styling 5 Fall Boots That Aren’t Black

Fall is officially boot season, and though they are ubiquitous this time of year, keeping boots looking fresh, fun and on-trend is a seasonal endeavor. Yours truly will attest to a tendency toward pulling on simple black booties in the cold, gray dog days of winter. Be it suede, leather or a rubberized version for snow or rain, the constants of black hues, ankle silhouettes and stacked heels remain the same. Sure, it keeps things simple, but the choice is often also made out of a combination of laziness and, well, running late in the morning. No one is above the forfeiture that black goes with everything.

But this fall, I was determined to step it up — pun intended — on the boot front and try some styles that did not fall into the basic black category. Wearing a non-black boot (or shoe, for that matter) will always require a more advanced level of styling as mixing colors, prints, textures call into question the concept of clashing and how to do it just right. But with a few flexible rules — and a willingness to put forth a bit more effort and planning — this season’s boot trends could become new staples with a twist.

’80s red patent leather

I immediately fell in love with Paul Andrew‘s patent leather booties when the designer debuted them at New York Fashion Week in February. The slick, lipstick-red hue combined with the bejeweled cabochon accents make for the perfect statement footwear, and Andrew’s inspirations — new-wave tunes and a Robert Motherwell painting at the Museum of Modern Art — are spot-on for fall’s 1980s revival. In real life, the boot wears itself best when tempered by neutrals. A masculine menswear check against lipstick patent leather makes for the perfect clash.

non black boots fall 2018 i tried it paul andrew booties
The author in Paul Andrew’s patent leather Citra Stones booties.
CREDIT: George Chinsee

paul andrew patent leather booties fall 2018 i tried it non-black boots
Paul Andrew Citra Stones patent leather booties.

topshop check trousers fall 2018 how to wear non-black boots
Topshop check peg trousers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Topshop

Western in white

Spring ’18’s favorite trend has transitioned into fall, but this time, it’s less about dusty browns and full-on western wear (re: no fringe) and more about how to incorporate the country silhouette into a more urban look, using unique colors (Fendi did it in yellow and baby blue) or, in the case of Tibi, a glossy white version. The silhouette looks best with a midi dress or A-line midi skirt, and the blanc boot will add a modish pop to any outfit. There’s a reason the white boot continues to prevail; it’s the opposite of black, but it still goes with almost everything.

i tried it tibi white boots fall 2018
The author in New York.
CREDIT: George Chinsee
how to wear non-black boots fall 2018 tibi dylan boot
A closer look at Tibi’s Dylan white boot with a Western lean.
CREDIT: George Chinsee

tibi fall 2018 western boots fall 2018 best shoe trends
Tibi’s Dylan boot in white.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Shopbop
i tried it fall 2018 non-black boots mary katrantzou midi pleat skirt net-a-porter
A Mary Katrantzou midi skirt to pair with white Western silhouetted boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter


The saying that leopard print is a neutral has never been more true this season. It’s everywhere: on dresses, skirts, bags, coats, shirts and, yes, boots. While the print can (and does) come in a variety of colors, a black and tan combo is still the easiest-to-wear version. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to the sock bootie until I pulled on Louise et Cie‘s style, which has wooden stiletto heel that is totally comfortable when paired with its comfy, clingy and blister-proof sock silhouette. The abstract leopard print feels oh-so-fall with a cozy knit sweater.

louise et cie leopard print bootie sock fall 2018
Louise et Cie’s leopard print sock bootie.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Lord & Taylor
how to wear fall 2018 booties stella mccartney sweater mytheresa
Stella McCartney wool and alpaca knit sweater.
CREDIT: Courtesy of MyTheresa

Elegant combat

Okay, so these are technically black boots, but with one exception: the laces. Marc Fisher‘s classic combat style has a chunky rubber heel, slim rounded toe and inside zipper, which makes getting in and out of the boots a cinch. It also comes with white cotton laces, which give the boots more pop and personality. I was still looking for a way to make them more luxe, though:  A quick Amazon search led me to a pair of burgundy velvet laces that looked positively elegant, especially when worn with a silk midi dress.

marc fisher combat boot fall 2018
Marc Fisher Waren combat boot with white cotton laces.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom
velvet shoelaces fall 2018 combat boots
Velvet laces in burgundy give combat boots a luxe kick.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon
petar petrov fall 2018 how to wear combat boots fall 2018
Petar Petrov’s metallic striped dress looks tough-luxe when paired with combat boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Powder blue and lots of laces

There’s a whole fan club of brown boots — in camel, sand, tan, taupe, sienna, tawny, the list goes on. I have never belonged to that club, so when I received Stuart Weitzman’s Veruka boot in Stone Light Tan, I sensed a personal styling problem. A swap to the brand’s Dovetail Blue Gray in the same style (one of FN’s Must Buys for the fall ’18 season) was the remedy, and the gray-blue shade had a similar effect (as did a dusty rose hue: Instead of making the feet disappear (an effect that black boots and shoes tend to have), a lighter-hued boot brings attention to the area — which highlights details like laces, hooks and the pleating on a midi shirtdress.

stuart weitman veruka boot fall 2018
Stuart Weitzman’s Veruka lace-up boot in patent leather.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Stuart Weitzman
other stories fall 2018 how to style boots I tried it
A printed and pleated dress by & Other Stories.
CREDIT: Courtesy of & Other Stories

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