Knee-High Boots Are Back — Don't Make These Fashion Mistakes

After a few years of ankle boot domination, knee-high boots are seemingly everywhere.

“We’ve been seeing a small reemergence of this trend for a couple of seasons now, and it kind of feels like we’re at a moment in time where everyone’s onboard and adopting them and looking for different iterations of the tall boot that works for them,” said Candace Read, a wardrobe stylist based in Ohio.

Knee-high boots were huge back in 2015 and 2016, but fashion looks really different now than it did then.

“We’re definitely seeing much more volume [in clothing] which is a big departure from how we were seeing it previously, with leggings and slimmer pants and skinny jeans and all of that good stuff,” added Read.

So how should you be styling your knee-high boots now? Below, stylists share the dos and don’ts for styling knee-high boots.

Don’t wear a boot that’s disproportionate to your body.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes, honestly, is the right selection of boot … it’s not always proportionate to the individual,” Read shared.

In general, you want your knee-high boots to end just under your knee, according to Ashlyn Greer, the founder of Fashivly, an online personal styling service. Boots ending at the kneecap tend to be hard to walk in, Greer noted. Additionally, you want to make sure the shaft of the boot isn’t too loose around your calf, or too tight. Not only can this throw off your look, but it could lead to discomfort, too.

For example, a shorter person shouldn’t wear a knee-high boot that hits them too high, or someone with thin legs shouldn’t pick a boot in which their calves are swimming (a tapered boot or a boot with a zipper or elastic could be ideal in this case), Read noted.

Greer said many of her clients are frustrated by limited options for larger calf sizes, but know that things are getting better. “There are some really great brands like Dolce Vita and Vince Camuto that are finally coming out with really great boots in both wide calf options and extra wide calf, which is great,” stated Greer.

It may take a few tries to find the boots that are best for you, and that is OK.

“If you want to adopt the trend, then it’s worth it to invest that time to find the right one … that way, it can last in your wardrobe for seasons to come,” Read said.

Don’t eliminate the possibility of knee-high boots just because you’re short.

You can wear the knee-high boots no matter your height,” Kayla Westwood, a stylist at Nordstrom, told HuffPost.

“Often, when I am styling clients, my petite customers feel they can’t wear a knee-high boot or even over-the-knee [boot], but I completely disagree,” Westwood stated, adding that many brands offer knee-high boots with shorter shaft lengths, which allows shorter folks to wear the style.

The average shaft height of a knee-high boot ranges from about 13.75 inches to 17.75 inches, according to the Stuart Weitzman website, which is a pretty big range. For a shorter person, it’s a good idea to purchase knee-highs closer to that 13.75-inch length.

Don’t limit yourself to tucking skinny jeans into knee-high boots.

According to Greer, one of the toughest things for folks when it comes to knee-high boots is deciphering how to style them with pants.

“It’s a little bit trickier because a lot of us have pushed those skinny jeans toward the back of our closet,” Greer noted, and skinny jeans were many people’s go-to when styling knee-high boots back in 2015 or 2016.

Now, with looser pant styles such as flares and wide-legged jeans in fashion, it’s not as easy to style knee-high boots.

“It’s really all about proportions [you can try] something that’s got a little bit more of a straight leg or even a baggier jean, so you have some of that puddling if you are tucking in the pants,” said Greer, “but, this is tough, I’m going to be honest. It’s kind of an art and not a science and you’ve really got to balance out the proportions of the full look and make sure that you’re pairing it with the right boots.”

There may be some trial and error — meaning it’s a good idea to try on some outfits before you have to run out for an event.

“So, a couple of tips: Opposites really do attract with this type of pairing. If you’re doing that flat buckle moto boot that has a lot of … visual weight, pairing that with skirts and dresses or leggings [or a] a slimmer pant is going to be your best option,” Greer said.

“If you’ve got something that’s a slim, pointed-toe knee-high boot, that’s the right silhouette to experiment with tucking in a fabric that’s got a little bit more to it like a straight or a baggy jean,” she added.

And, if all else fails, leggings remain a good option, she noted.

Don’t always think you have to tuck your pants into your boots.

You may think that your pants should always be tucked into your knee-high boots, but that isn’t true, both Read and Greer said.

“We are wearing looser fitting pants and looser fitting skirts, a lot more volume than what we were wearing in 2015, 2016,” said Read. “I think it’s been really fun to style your knee-high boot under a really full leg trouser, which some people might say that’s a little counterintuitive because you’re missing the shaft of the boot, essentially, but knowing that it can be layered under a wide leg trouser, I think is great, and we’re seeing that a lot.”

“A knee-high boot is such a workhorse of our closet, instead of before where we had to have an ankle boot and a knee-high boot. Just get the knee-high boot, wear that with your skirts and dresses and then just wear your pants over the boot,” Greer added.

Wearing your pants over your knee-highs looks good when you’re walking or sitting, Greer said, and adds a different, taller silhouette under your pant leg.

Leaving your pants untucked is particularly good with flares, bootcut jeans, baggy jeans, cropped wide-leg jeans and even straight-leg jeans that are wide enough around the ankle and calf, noted Greer.

Leggings remain a good option for an easy knee-high boots style.
Leggings remain a good option for an easy knee-high boots style.

Don’t limit your boot-wearing to the cold-weather months.

Wearing boots in the fall and winter is a no-brainer, but Westwood said you shouldn’t limit this shoe choice to just those seasons.

“Get rid of the thinking that knee-high boots are only seasonally appropriate … it’s all about how you complete your look and style it out,” Westwood said.

In other words, go ahead and wear your knee-high boots in the spring and even summer — and don’t be afraid to show some skin, Kyla Flax, the head of styling at Anthropologie, told Huffost.

When it’s warm, Westwood recommends “pairing [your boots] with tailored shorts, crisp tailored shirt options, oversized blazer and jewelry. I especially love the layered jewelry look here.”

You can even pair your boots with some leather shorts, said Read.

Throughout the spring and summer, don’t focus on covering up while wearing boots.

When all else fails, remember that skirts and dresses go extremely well with knee-high boots.

“I think everybody knows a great, easy outfit to wear with [knee-high boots] is any skirt or dress — it can really be any length,” Greer said.

Read said long maxi skirts are in right now and look just as good with this shoe choice as a pair of black tights and a black mini-skirt.

Flax said she likes to style knife-point boots with a slip dress — “it’s easy to throw a jacket or heavy sweater on top of your look to make it feel more work appropriate.”

When wearing your boots, don’t forget to keep your personal style in mind.

From motorcycle and cowboy to heeled and flat, there are endless styles of knee-high boots out there. And beyond that, with jeans, skirts, billowy pants, dresses and more, there are endless styling options, too.

It may feel overwhelming, but in the end, select a style that you’re excited to wear.

“When choosing a boot, I’d urge shoppers to go with their own style. If you are a classic minimalist but are interested in cowboy boots, wear them with jeans and a blazer,” said Flax, “Stay true to your own aesthetic when incorporating new pieces.”

Additionally, it’s important to think about your lifestyle, too, noted Greer.

“Are you commuting? Maybe the moto boot is a better option for you. Are you somebody that loves to play with more feminine silhouettes? That kitten heel pointed-toe boot’s probably more right for you,” stated Greer.

All in all, have fun with it — pick a style that’s right for you, that you’ll look forward to wearing and that you can pair with lots of items in your closet.

Looking for some new comfy boots? Take a look at this reviewer-beloved selection below.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.


A pair of waterproof insulated boots that are under $50

Sporty and durable without breaking the bank, these insulated winter boots have a non-stick strong grip on the sole and toggle at the top to keep in heat and keep out water and snow. They’re waterproof and are said to keep your feet warm in weather up to 25 degrees below zero. They’re a classic snow boot that you won’t hate to wear when shoveling or moving around in the snow.

Promising review: “My husband said that these were like wearing slippers, they are that comfortable. Well made and stylish. These were the perfect gift.” — Epiphany


A pair of non-slip winter hiking boots with removable fur

Another budget-friendly option, these hiking boots will work on the trail and in the city. They have removable fleece insoles to keep your feet toasty on cooler days. They’re made from water-resistant leather with a non-slip sole that will keep you supported even in terrible weather. The sharp lace-up style looks great with jeans or slacks and won’t make you feel dowdy when you’re wearing them all day.

Promising review: “Actually surprised by the quality and how comfortable they are. So warm with the lining. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for a nice boot with the a great price point.” — Kristyn


A stylish pair of EVA boots with a microfleece lining

If there’s one thing I’m always looking for, it’s adult shoes that look like they could be in the kids section — that, and anything that looks like the iconic Danner hiking boots for less than $300. You can imagine my excitement then when earlier this winter I snagged a pair of these colorful EVA booties with eye-catching laces. The brand says they’re water-resistant but as of this week, I have worn them in pretty severe snow and my little piggies were perfectly dry, even after walking for a while. The inner part sucks your foot in and really keeps snow and slush from getting in there and the round toe shape gives your feet tons of room.

Promising review: “So far so good. They’re comfortable and kept my feet dry when walking on wet pavement.” — Avis C.


A timeless, versatile pair of waterproof, all-terrain Blundstones

A brand that needs little introduction, Blundstones are the Australian lug-sole Chelsea boots you’ve probably seen everywhere. They’re incredibly comfortable, last for years and look amazing dressed up or down. While I can attest the regular leather pair does well in the snow, the specific all-terrain, waterproof pair have weatherproof soles, removable sheepskin footbeds and double stitching for more durability.

Promising review: “Very comfortable, very well made. Great easy on everyday use shoe.” — Bob

L.L. Bean

A pair of shearling-lined insulated Bean boots

Another age-old classic, L.L. Bean boots are made in Maine from high-quality leather and waterproof rubber bottoms. This pair comes lined with their extra-soft and warm shearling, making them feel like slippers whenever you put them on. They’re stylish enough to wear during the day without sacrificing function and warmth.

Promising review: “I waited 3x months on back-order – totally worth it! Comfortable from the first wear, and now I don’t have to worry about what Mother Nature throws at me. I wear a 7.5 usually – ordered a 7 reg. – as advised because I don’t intend to wear incredibly thick socks – perfect fit. Couldn’t be happier!” — Lepadouen


A pair of Columbia Bugaboot boots

Columbia is a strong name in the outdoor gear game and their winter boots are no different. The Bugaboot gives you ample support through your ankle, with lightweight insulation and midsole cushioning keeping you dry and stable. The traction outsole keeps you stable on the slush and ice.

Promising review: “Love my bugaboots! I have the pleasure of living in Colorado and love to hike so I do so quite often in snowy conditions. Bugaboots are super comfortable, very warm with great traction and high ankle support. Love em so much I got two pairs so I don’t have to haul them back n forth.” — JJ


A pair of Muck Boot arctic tall sport boots

On the sportier end of the spectrum, Muck Boots are great for wet, muddy climates or super snowy and slushy areas. The neoprene upper is comfortable and flexible, while still keeping you warm and comfortably compressed. The high-quality rubber exterior can stomp in puddles and piles and snow and the fleece lining will always keep you toasty.

Promising review: “Comfortable, durable, right fit, feet stay warm in negative weather, no slipping on ice… I love them more than I thought I would.” — Ahyoka


A pair of Merrell waterproof Moab 3 boots

Merrell’s waterproof Moab 3 a longtime fan favorite here at HuffPost for hiking, outdoor time and anything in the snow or slush. Sturdy and comfortable, the mid rise gives you ankle support in bad weather and the protective rubber toe cap keeps your toes dry and comfortable. Though they’re made for hiking, they’re not too bulky and they look great when styled with trousers or denim, in addition to hiking gear or snow pants.

Promising review: “Comfortable, fits well, goes anywhere A great boot that looks good and fits well. I wear them for school to use for recess duty on messy winter days. I can trudge through the snow and not worry about the cold or getting wet feet.” — DaniG

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