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Nine months out of the year, knee-high boots are your best friend. They keep you warm and protected from the elements in the coldest months, and when spring and fall roll around, they help you transition between seasons as you pair them lighter pieces. No matter what you wear, the structure of a knee-high boot gives your outfit an instant edge.
“My favorite way to style knee-high boots are either with a skirt or with a dress. I think that tall boots balance out short skirts nicely, ” Madi Kahn, an assistant buyer at Macy's, tells Byrdie. “As it gets colder, you can start to layer these looks with heavy sweaters, layering shirts, stockings, and jackets to adjust to the colder weather.”
And yet, with all the different styles and trends at play today, finding the perfect pair can seem overwhelming. (The options for toe shapes, heel heights, and materials are so wide-ranging.) That's why we compiled a list of the best knee-high boots, along with tips from our experts to help guide your search.
Meet the Expert
Alexis Lopez is a Canadian fashion content creator and YouTuber.
Read on for the best knee-high boots for 2022.
Best Overall: Stuart Weitzman Reserve Knee High Boot
What do buyers say? 77 percent of 90+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
If there’s one name that’s synonymous with knee-high boots—it’s Stuart Weitzman. The brand shot to fame with its tall, form-fitting boots cladding celebrities from Kate Moss to Gigi Hadid. In simple colors and shapes, it’s no surprise the brand has become part of models’ off-duty uniforms. Case in point: the Reserve knee-high boot. Made from Nappa leather, it’s a classic equestrian riding boot. The black leather goes with everything and the block heel that’s just shy of two inches gives you a little lift without being extreme. Whether you plan to wear this pair with pants or skirts, you’ll know you’ll be wearing them for years to come.
Material: Nappa leather, elastic calf panel | Heel Height: 1.75 inches | Colors: Black | Size Range: US 5-11
Best Budget: ASOS Design Carla Chunky Flat Boots
Embrace the lug sole trend with ASOS Design’s affordable option. With a zipper on the side, you don’t have to struggle with slipping these tall boots on or off. On top of that, the thick sole with lugged tread will give you plenty of grip, so you won’t be slipping on snow or ice in the winter.
Josiane Konaté, the founder of Petite and Bold, says lug-soled boots are her staple for surviving Montreal’s freezing weather. “Our winter is very cold, so my go-to style is to pair lug-soled knee-high boots with thermal leggings, a classic white shirt, and a vest on top,” says Konaté. “I feel like it never fails. You're protected from the cold and you look chic.”
Material: Faux leather | Colors: Black, White | Size Range: US 4-13
Best Designer: Totême The Riding Boot
Given their quality and wearability, Totême's slim riding boots are so investment-worthy, They're made in Italy with responsibly sourced calfskin leather from environmentally certified suppliers and shaped with a pointed square toe and a low stacked heel. The style is finished with a decorative strap and a silver-tone metal monogram and could look great with your bare legs as you rock a short dress or with straight denim pants to show off the shape of your legs.
Material: Calfskin leather | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Shaft Height: 15-17 inches | Colors: Black | Size Range: EU 35-41
Best Low Heel: Frye Melissa Button 2
Frye boots have a cult following and reading from the reviews it’s easy to tell why—they’re leather boots that are meant to last, molding to your feet and withstanding wear and tear. For those who prefer a low heeled option, the Melissa Button 2 offers the sophistication of a tall riding boot with a sensible height. Be warned that the style does not have a zipper, so you have to pull them on and off. We promise they will be worth the extra work.
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 1 inch | Shaft Height: 15.5 inches | Colors: Black, Cognac, Redwood, Smoke, Slate, Wine | Size Range: US 5.5-11
Best Rain Boots: HUNTER Women’s Original Tall Rain Boot
Say rain boot and most people will automatically think of Hunter’s Original Tall Rainboot. The classic silhouette comes in both glossy and matte finishes and all shades of the rainbow. Whether you like to add a pop of color on a dreary day or stick to all black, you can find your ideal pair. The brand’s signature tread will prevent you from slipping on slick streets, so you can power through your commute. Customers love the style for its classy look, comfort, and durability. The brand offers a two-year warranty, but some reviewers say the boot has lasted them as long as 10 years. You’ll want to wear these boots even when it’s not raining.
Material: Natural rubber with polyester lining *certified vegan | Heel Height: 1.18 inches | Shaft Height: 14.76 inches | Colors: Black, Navy, Red, Yellow, Green, Grey, Indigo +more | Size Range: US 5-11
Best for Winter: Sorel Joan of Arctic Boot
Let’s be real—wearing stiletto boots in a foot of snow is not the best idea. For those times when you need a real heavy-duty boot, turn to the classic snow boot from Sorel. Seam-sealed waterproof construction keeps moisture out while vulcanized rubber with herringbone outsole lets you grip the icy ground. The faux fur cuff adds extra warmth and cuteness. For a traditional snow boot, this design is pretty adorable too. As one reviewer writes, “I wish I lived in the Arctic, so I could wear these every day.”
Material: Waterproof suede upper with faux fur cuff | Heel Height: 1.5 inches | Shaft Height: 12 inches | Colors: Black, Gray, Camel Brown, Khaki, Fawn | Size Range: US 5-12
Best Cowboy: Dolce Vita Solei Boot
As a Macy’s assistant buyer and content creator, Madi Kahn says cowboy boots are one trend she has seen galloping from summer into the fall. If you want to embrace the trend without looking like Jessie from Toystory, we recommend this suede style from Dolce Vita. The pointed toe, slanted heel, and stitching add just the right amount of Western style. It’s best to pair cowboy boots with clothes with no western flair. This may seem counterintuitive but it will stop any hints of looking like you are wearing a costume. Fashion content creator Alexis Lopez suggests pairing them with straight jeans, a dress or skirt, and a blazer. You can find additional outfit suggestions in her YouTube video about knee-high boots.
Material: Suede upper with man-made sole | Heel Height: 2.25 inches | Shaft Height: 15 inches | Colors: Whiskey, Black, White | Size Range: US 6-10
Best Snakeskin: Schutz Analeah Boot
Snakeskin has been cropping up on the runways from the Savage X Fenty to Kim Shui. An easy way to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe is by investing in a pair of snakeskin boots. With a mix of light and dark tones, the Analeah Boot by Shutz easily goes with both light and dark outfits. The stacked heel adds a bit of height and the almond toe is a flattering mix between square and round. Who says animal print can only be from the feline variety?
Material: Snake-embossed leather | Heel Height: 3.3 inches | Shaft Height: 13.5 inches | Colors: Natural Snake, Black, Dark Chocolate +more | Size Range: US 5-11
Best Lug Sole: Steve Madden Wayde
Love ‘em or leave 'em, lug-soled boots aren’t going anywhere. And why would they? The modern design combines the utility and grip of a thick tread with the preppiness of a knee-high boot. The black and olive versions of this Steve Madden style remain edgy while tan adds a preppy twist. Best of all, reviewers say the waterproof design lets them tackle snowstorms in style.
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2-inch heel, 1.5-inch platform | Shaft Height: 14 inches | Colors: Black, Olive, Tan | Size Range: 6-11
Best Fringe: Jeffrey Campbell Cattle Boot
Another way to add a taste of the wild west to your look is with some fringe. Not only does this pair have fringe to boot, but the upturned toe and slanted heel give the style some extra kick. The light suede will go with practically anything in your closet. We can already imagine the fringe flying in the wind as you skip down the street.
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 4 inches | Shaft Height: 15 inches | Colors: Sand | SIze Range: US 5.5-10
Best Wide Calf: Naturalizer Shore Wide Calf Block Heel Boots
For those looking for a pair to accommodate wide calves, look no further than Naturalizer’s Shore Wide Calf Block Heel Boots. It’s a modern take on the classic equestrian riding boot with a 16.89-inch shaft circumference. Featuring Naturalizer’s Contour Fit+ Comfort Technology, the boot uses open-cell foam cushioning, anatomically sculpted to meet every contour of your foot, and soft and lightweight materials for a better fit and all-day comfort. In other words, you can wear this sleek boot to the office and then out for happy hour drinks. Who doesn’t like that?
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2.5 inches | Shaft Height: 14 inches | Colors: Black, Brown | Size Range: US 4-12
Best Sustainable: Ganni Country Boot
Stylish and sustainable, you can’t go wrong with Ganni’s lug-soled boots. Made from 50 percent pre-consumer recycled rubber, these boots aren’t waterproof but they still provide you with that utility look with their chunky sole. Pair them with a girly skirt or dress for a high-contrast look. “I find that when you mix feminine silhouettes with more masculine styles it adds character to a look,” says Lopez.
Material: New and recycled rubber | Heel Height: 1.5-inch heel, 1-inch platform | Shaft Height: 16.5 inches | Colors: Black, Olive | Size Range: 5-14
Best Craftcore: Brother Vellies Mermaid Doodle Boots
Tired of plain black and brown boots? Check out the Doodle Boot from Brooklyn-based Brother Vellies. Handmade by artisans in Mexico, this cowboy boot style features hand-painted mermaid and floral motifs that are...simply dreamy. While they're quite an investment, this will be a pair you'll want to hold onto forever. No matter what, these boots will be the center of attention.
Material: Leather | Size Range: US 6-12
What to Look for in Knee High Boots
These days, boots can be made from a variety of materials, ranging from leather to vegan leather to rubber. Choosing the right material depends on your personal preference as well as functional needs.
Smooth leather is a go-to choice for its versatile look and durability. Today, you can find vegan leather options that look and feel just like the real deal. Suede offers a softer look but it can be harder to keep clean, especially when in lighter colors. For a fiercer look, opt for croc or snakeskin-embossed (vegan) leather.
If you are looking for a boot that can withstand rain or snow, consider rubber options or leather that has been treated to be waterproof.
Heel & Shaft Height
A lot of people (myself included) love boots because they give a few extra inches of height without the pain of wearing high heels. Some boots can be as low as 1 inch while others can be more than 4 inches tall.
Deciding on a heel height should come down to when and where you will wear the boot. Stiletto styles are great for dressy occasions where you won’t have to be standing and walking a ton. On the other hand, a lower, thicker heel makes for a better everyday boot that won’t give you blisters as you stroll the town.
“I gravitate towards a short and chunky heel. I can't walk in high heels, so shorter is always better for me,” says Kahn. “I also tend to look for chunky platforms, since this gives you additional height without making it harder to walk.”
Shaft height is the length from the top of the foot to the top of the boot. For knee-high boots, this length can range anywhere from 12 to 18 inches. For those who are petite (under 5’4”), try to look for a boot with a shaft under 15.5 inches, says Chi Li, founder of Petite Dressing and The Petite Style Bible. Otherwise, the shaft may go up too high and hit your knee at an awkward spot.
Square, round, almond, pointed—oh my! Today’s toe shape options are endless. Almond—slightly rounded—and round are the most common and versatile toe shapes. Square toe offers a vintage look and is quite trendy this fall. Pointed-toe boots create a sexy look and are great for going out. For petite individuals, Li recommends the pointed toe.
“For petites, the toe shape is key. I always go with pointy-toe boots, because they are the best to elongate our legs. The second best is rounded toe. These can be more comfortable for those of us who are not used to pointy toe,” says Li.
In theory, boots are made for colder months, but not all of them can handle the elements equally. Besides checking for waterproof materials and insulation, you should look at the bottom of the shoe for tread. Most dressy or stiletto styles have slick bottoms that don’t provide any grip when walking in the rain or snow. While this might be fine for a fancy dinner, even commuting to work on a wintery day may become dangerous.
Thankfully, it's trendy to wear boots with chunky soles and plenty of tread. If you are truly venturing out in the tundra, choose a pair with waterproof rubber soles. Widely spaced lugs offer good traction and shed mud more easily, according to REI.
How Do I Style Knee-High Boots for Different Seasons?
Knee-high boots aren’t just reserved for the winter. Living in New York City, Kahn likes to pair tall boots with shorts or mini skirts on warmer fall days. However, when the temperatures dip, knee-high boots can provide extra warmth while still staying chic. Throw on some thermal leggings and thick, knee-high socks to keep your legs toasty. Tall boots also are a lifesaver when it comes to wearing dresses or skirts in the winter. Simply layer your thickest socks over thermal tights and hide it all inside the boot. Oversized sweaters and sweater dresses look great with tall boots and simple bottoms tucked inside. Top it all off with a cute puffer jacket, wool coat, or parka, and you are good to go.
How Do I Dress Up or Down Knee-High Boots?
The beauty of knee-high boots is that they often make you look instantly put together. So when you are feeling especially lazy, you can simply throw on a pair of leggings and an oversized sweater or hoodie plus the tall boots for a cozy-chic look. This is especially a good way to dress down stiletto boots if you want to wear them during the day.
“A ‘cool girl’ way of wearing your stiletto boots more casually is to wear a hoodie, with an oversized motto leather jacket, a pair of jeans, and some chunky sunglasses with a side body bag,” says Lopez.
When going out at night, knee-high boots pair perfectly with shorter skirts and dresses. Tights are optional, depending on the weather.
“Different ways you can style your knee-high boots during a fall day is by pairing either your brown, white, or cream suede boots under a midi skirt. This midi skirt can have a floral print to it and you can top it off with a chunky knit sweater,” says Lopez. “To spice things up for a night look, I would opt for a pair of patent leather boots, a mini black skirt, or a pair of dark high-waisted denim shorts and a cute blouse or a basic top underneath with a grey suede moto jacket over top. When it comes to styling day versus night looks, you want to keep your day looks more light and fresh whereas your night looks can be darker and edgier.”
Can I Wear Knee-High Boots if I’m Petite?
Just because you are short and the boot is tall doesn’t mean you can’t wear the shoe. When styled correctly, a pair of knee-high boots can make you look taller. Like Li says, it’s best to go with a pointed toe style to elongate the legs and don’t shy away from a higher heel. While slouchy and wide-leg boots are currently in, they can overwhelm the petite frame, so a sleek, tight shaft might be a better fit. Also, remember to check the shaft height and try to find one under 15.5 inches.
When choosing what to pair them with, go with similar colors to create one long line. For instance, wearing black boots with black leggings or jeans doesn’t break up your leg, so it looks like they are stretching for days.
“What works best for me (I'm 5'3” for reference) if for example, I want to wear leggings or skinny jeans; is to pair fitted OTK boots with dark colors because it creates the illusion of height,” says Konaté. “If I'm wearing a dress or skirt, it is so crucial that I leave a space between the top of the boots and the bottom hem of the dress or skirt. Otherwise, the styling looks off to me.”
How Do I Keep Knee-High Boots Up?
Depending on the boot and your outfit, you might find the shaft slipping down as you wear it throughout the day. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to keep your boots up.
“To prevent my knee-high boots from falling or slouching, I usually will wear them with thick socks underneath or ankle warmers. I find this to be the best method to keep my boots in place if I find that they are a bit wide around my legs,” says Lopez. “If you are wearing a pair of suede boots, you can glue a piece of velcro to the inside of the boot and then tie an elastic band around your leg where the velcro will attach to it to ensure it doesn't fall throughout the day.”
Why Trust Byrdie?
Emily Cieslak is a Byrdie contributor and has written about fashion for other publications like The Knot, Real Simple, and Red Carpet Fashion Awards. While living in London and New York City, knee-high boots were her footwear of choice, keeping her warm and stylish while she explored the cities on foot.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough knee-high boots from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.