Boots: Over-the-Knee vs. Knee-High

December 1, 2010

Boots: Over-the-Knee vs. Knee-High

Brian Atwood – Chain-Back Over-the-Knee Boot – Neiman Marcus
Gucci – Karen Platform Knee-High Boot – Neiman Marcus (L-R)

For many of us, boots are a ‘go-to’ accessory during the cold winter months. We actually look forward to pulling them out of our closets each season and/or deciding on which new pair to buy to commemorate this change in seasons. Boots have become a staple item in many of our wardrobes. While making a clothing purchase, we often think, ‘Oh! I can just throw my boots on with it’. Simple and easy, right? Well, not always.

Here’s the dilemma! Do we really think our knees are our best feature? If not, then why would we make an effort to highlight them or make them the focal point? When we wear a pair of tall boots with a dress or skirt, unfortunately, our knobby knees become the main attraction. Observers can’t help but have their eyes drawn to this region where our skin is revealed in an otherwise covered up body. The exposed skin, however minimal, visually segments the body rather than giving us a much desired long, undisrupted silhouette. Unless we are wearing micro mini’s and have legs a mile long, the unwelcomed knee predicament is inevitable.

Good news! There is another solution. Let’s wear over-the-knee boots or tights and knee-high boots with our favorite dress or skirt. Both options completely cover our skin, including the knees. Here is some advice to make this styling technique a triumph:


I must confess that over-the-knee boots are my favored option. This styling approach provides the most streamlined version when wearing boots with a dress or skirt. The viewer’s eye can quickly scan the entire length of our body from top-to-bottom with no unfavorable distractions. Our silhouette becomes seamless making us appear long, lean and modern.

It’s a good idea to select an over-the-knee pair of boots that allow for our legs to move with ease. Those made with pliable suede or durable, supple, stretch leather materials and designed with zippers (partial or full) increase those flexibility odds in our favor. Plus, let’s make sure our over-the-knee boots have a slim fit. Any boot bulk or bulging on the leg line is a visual distraction and takes away from the seamless silhouette we are trying to achieve.

Over-the-knee boots can be thigh-high versions or simply those designed to wear just above the knee. Note over-the-knee boots are more challenging to find at varying price points in the marketplace. Oftentimes, the more expensive versions fit and feel better to wear for long durations. Plus, they will last longer. If you plan to wear them often, over the years, then this may be a wise investment piece to add to your wardrobe – over-the-knee boots are on trend, but not trendy.


I do understand that the over-the-knee boot phenomenon is not conducive for everyone. Whether it is physical or lifestyle limitations that prevent us from wearing them or we simply do not like the style, the knee-high boot is always a great alternative. It is readily available in a variety of designs and price ranges. Hooray!

To keep the overall silhouette of our body appearing long and lean while wearing a knee-high boot with a dress or skirt, we must minimize or, preferably, eliminate all together, exposure of the knees. A dress or skirt with a longer hemline will work. However, this is a tricky styling option and makes it much too easy for us to enter the frumpiness zone. Eeks!

A better alternative is to combine knee-high boots with matching colored opaque (not sheer or sheer opaque) tights and then add the complimentary dress/skirt. This style option is another way for us to underplay the knee region and still participate in our boot fanaticism, plus keep the focus on us and not our knees.

The height/shaft placement of a tall knee-high boot will vary per person because the distance between our ankles and our knees differs. This means that some of us will be exposing more of the tights than others. It makes no difference with the success of this style trick. The shoe matching colored tights will work in all cases.

Once again, a slim shaft fit is essential with this type of tall boot too. More than one-eight inch of extra space around the top perimeter of knee-high boots means they are too big. Beware that the same pair of knee-high boots that we wear over our jeans may not fit well when we later wish to wear them with a dress or skirt. Consequently, we should consider more than one pair of knee-high boots for our everyday wardrobe.

What are your thoughts on you and boots? Please share!

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