Why are New York women wearing ankle boots?
“Because we follow trends,” said Maya Beaumier, 18, a college freshman who was hanging out on University Place last Friday night, clad in flat black ankle boots with black leggings and scrubby denim shorts.
“Yeah, we’re followers!” said her friend Maureen Flanagan, also an 18-year-old freshman and also wearing little zip-up ankle boots (“my mom bought them for me”), with black leggings from American Apparel. Over that she wore a short dress, and in her hair were evenly spaced technicolor bows, like glow-in-the-dark wallpaper.
“We want to be L.A. hipsters,” Ms. Beaumier said, “because that’s where [Internet celebrity turned model-nightcrawler] Cory Kennedy is.” Ms. Flanagan added that they also were trying to get on a party photo Web site called thecobrasnake.com.
The coeds have done their homework. Ankle boots are, in fact, the shoe of the year. (They’re also known as “booties,” but because that word sounds like two different slang terms plus one type of children’s footwear, we’re not going to use it.)
The abbreviated boots can snuggle into the bottom of a pair of skinny jeans like a screw, or cap off a long bare leg like a shiny black cherry. And many are wearing them with shorts and tights, for a kind of cute elf look (it makes sense, since these days, only Santa Claus is hiring). Works if you’re under 30.
Ankle boots can be flat or stiletto (like Jennifer Lopez’s 5.5-inch YSLs); sleek or baroque; buckled (like the witchy red ones strapped on by Kate Bosworth recently), zipped or both. Earthy mauve and camel ankle boots exist, but the up-to-date option is clearly the kind that make you look like a sexy Martian.
Take Christian Louboutin’s Jetsonesque model, which come in teal and black for the exceedingly modern price of $1,030—signature red soles included—and has been spotted on Sarah Jessica Parker. The speed-bumped metallic leather looks like it was ripped off of a space cow. Or this reporter’s favorite: Chanel’s black ankle boot that has a heel like a tornado and a box on the ankle ($1,495), which could hold either a tiny jetpack or all of your leftover money. Not convinced that you’re supposed to be dressing like an alien?
At Jeffrey in the meatpacking district on a recent breezy Sunday, we stealthily staked out the tornado/pouch shoe. A wool-jacketed, calf-booted woman picked it up and showed it to a similarly attired friend. “Too avant-garde,” Calf Boot #2 said, and they moved on to some pumps. Riches are wasted on the rich!
Buyer Fred Marsh of the somewhat more modest Manhattan mini-chain Sacco said that while ankle boots haven’t overtaken knee-high boots yet, they’re “obviously a trend.”
“The more elegant-looking ones are more popular with older gals,” he added. “The ones with funky heels, those are selling to the younger women.”
In whatever stripe, the shoes just might be the perfect footwear for global warming, the kind of ambiguous 50-degree is-it-November-or-April days that are increasingly commonplace nowadays.
But the truly wonderful thing about the ankle-boot craze is that many fashionably broke New Yorkers already have a pair in the back of their closet. Destiny Cullen, 22, bought her super-low-cut black ankle boots a year or so ago because “they are sleek,” “pretty comfortable” and, oh yeah—just $19.99 at Ross Dress for Less, a discount store in Tennessee. Ms. Cullen, who works in real estate and lives in Park Slope, was thrilled when her why-not purchase all of a sudden showed up at all the non-discount stores. “I’ve gotten a lot of compliments, definitely.”
She’s not the only Brooklynite who bought low. Makeup artist Shani Nemetsky, 21, picked up her “not typical” silver-gray wedge ankle boots last year, and Vicki Simon, 25, a graduate student in communications at NYU, wore her vintage buckled ankle boots to dance on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg after the election. They’d belonged to her grandmother in the 1960s.
And speaking of the ’60s, are these leg-promoting, retro-futuristic boots very go-go, very, dare we say … optimistic? Unironic? Yes.
“I love New York!” said Ms. Flanagan of the multiples bows festooning her coif, as she ran toward the next bar of the night at 1 a.m. Oh, so do we! And we love ankle boots, hopeful shoes for hopeful times.