I love the attitude of a man in boots – they lend a certain relaxed assurance,” says Clare Waight Keller, artistic director at Givenchy. Two styles of Cuban‑heeled ankle boot (£795) in aged and grainy leathers appeared in her debut men’s collection – one elastic-sided, the other with a tasselled back zip, both featuring a heel integrated into the leather at the back of the boot and an up-turned, slightly pointed toe, giving them a ’60s/’70s Western feel – not quite full cowboy, but very rock’n’ roll. Waight Keller was inspired by mid-1970s Springsteen, Johnny Thunders from New York Dolls, and Jagger and Bowie in various style phases. “These boots have a spirit that’s daring and playful at same time,” she continues. Retro-inspired pointed ankle boots like these are a big trend this year – not all have the rocker attitude or the stacked heel, but they have the swagger.
Take Christian Louboutin’s new black, chocolate or tan suede Hustington boot (£1,075), with angled side zip and subtle curves. They look great worn with straight or narrow jeans. Or Louis Leeman’s black suede Texas boot (€600) with scalloped panels that add a Western accent to a dress-down outfit.
If the prospect of significant height induces a sort of Cuban crisis, Louis Leeman and Berluti have some strong boots with lower heels. Berluti’s low-rise Capri boot (£950) has slanted elastic sides and pointed toe inspired by gentleman riders of the mid-19th century and a leather/rubber sole, which is great for rain. At Louis Leeman, the 1960s-inspired almond-toed, low-heeled Jimi boot (€590) “came from looking at hundreds of vintage images of musicians,” says Leeman. They work well with dark suiting, giving it a non‑conformist freshness.
I’ve taken to wearing boots with tailoring for non-work occasions. Styles that work well with a suit include Santoni’s Beatle boot (€770), with elastic side and hand-stitching (the black version is cool, but the killer look is in deep mahogany with a handpainted darker patina); and Moreschi’s Shadow ankle boot (£665): the version in soft black calfskin is embellished with fine embroidery and delicate perforations, while the blue and brown versions are meticulously hand-dyed and ironed to give them a distinctive finish.
At Jimmy Choo, Jimi Hendrix is the style inspiration. “I love the image of him on the bus in the late ’60s,” says creative director Sandra Choi of the photo of Hendrix in double denim with big collars, flares, wild hair – and a pair of black, heeled, fitted boots. “That was really the starting point for this new shape.” Choi’s interpretations – called, like Leeman’s, the Jimi range (from £650) – are either in high-shine black with a double grey stripe, or in oxide with coffee-brown, both available in shiny python or metallic or brushed leather. To take the Hendrix look further, there’s Paul Smith’s leather Mapleton boot (from £450) in navy or poppy-painted with a seam right down the front and toe.
Gucci pays tribute this season to a different musical icon, Elton John, with a lizard and python E and J (£1,620) appliquéd on the ankles. More approachable is a low-rise early-1960s style in black with an antiqued GG logo and the house’s red/green webbing (£805 from Matchesfashion.com), or rich ochre with navy/red webbing (£725 from Mr Porter).
All in all there’s plenty of opportunity to add some attitude – and in some cases altitude – to your wardrobe.