The total fashion freedom which pairing boots with skirts affords is sublime, offering a thrilling opportunity to reach back into the early 90’s while stretching forward into 2011 and beyond. As every well-heeled, autumnal shoe-shopper knows, Fall ushers in an abundance of boots, but rarely do we see real paradigm shifts. For the first time in a long time, those on whom the lens of stylish approbation is focused confirm a convincing air of free choice, serious style purpose, and witty good humor. Two things have the Grand M all atwitter this season: the influx of grunge redux short boots with a masculine edge, and the confluence of this grunge-inspired style with fancy, modern pieces.
The Grand M is at this moment besotted with a palette of black and white, realized in monochromatic pieces of luxe fabrics and textures, and appearing in irregular proportions. Think black-on-black sequins, wispy loose-weave knitwear, cropped tops, super maxi skirts, and rugged, muscly shoes. Jeffrey Campbell has a gorgeous selection of boots this season featuring red-blooded structure atop feminine heights, all of which look stunning with skirts of every length. With its turned-out, crenellated, black faux-shearling cuff, and throwback Grandma bootie lace-up suede upper, the Milton is a Grand M favorite. Buckle detailing adds an element of punk to the boots’ already saturated selection of style references; in the Milton, 90’s grunge hallmarks “lumberjack chic” and “prairie propriety” converge. A 2 and 3/4″ wooden heel lends sex appeal and makes this a wonderful ankle boot to pair with short skirts. The ultimate fantasy fulfillment here consists of a black leather mini ornamented with lacy, cut-out panel overlays, and paired with the gauzy decadence of Malene Birger’s Baquilla Mohair Sweater. The boots and sweater bespeak easy 90’s slouch (thanks to Liv Tyler and Seventeen Magazine, mohair is always 90’s to me), anchoring the modern, futuristic styling of the skirt (any mini would do, in either black or white, so long as it’s contemporary).
The intrigue of putting together a three-item, all-black, skirt-and-boot ensemble wherein each piece presents a look entirely self-contained and totally different from the other two is too strange and too alluring to ignore; admittedly, it is tricky to achieve, both practically and theoretically. In culling a group of must-have favorites, the Grand M pulled out these three pieces: a glossy, loose-knit sweater from Alexander McQueen, a sequined satin maxi by Malene Birger, and Dolce Vita’s macho leather Storm boots. These adorably virile short boots are a classic motorcycle style redux, all soft leather, square heel, and pliable shaft. The chunky, treaded sole is typical of 90’s footwear, and the Storm would pair well with a healthy variety of pieces from jeans to dresses. A simple snap allows these ankle boots to be worn up or down, and dual side buckles add to their boyishly tenacious, renegade charm. Use this charm against them and opt for a dramatic maxi, like Birger’s Acier sequin-embellished beauty. The skirt’s evening wear style is elaborately exaggerated by a sweeping fishtail hem, satin construction, and high-waisted fit: all in perfect contrast to the DV boots’ low-brow, wall-hugging attitude. Top it off with McQueen’s acetate cable-knit, a glamorous interpretation of a good-natured, homespun confection with a round neck, long sleeves, and elegantly casual ladder-knit panels of shiny thread. The getup is welded tenuously using creepy, Goth contours alongside gravel-crunching, bike gang pit stop irreverence, and white-gloved, Lincoln Center opera night sobriety. On reflection, the completed look is an outlandishly flippant whole composed of totally serious parts.
Last year, we were bound by the desires of the designers to dress ourselves in ideas already completed; we added or removed accessories to announce our various points of view. Now, we are being invited to demonstrate our own techniques using finely crafted, solid separates. The key to this type of success starts in a system of separates selection, i.e., an approach or MO for buying and wearing pieces. The Grand M’s MO includes the following intentions: to browse and shop at a slow pace, to refrain from building an outfit based on the intention of showcasing one item, to keep her wardrobe organized by texture rather than by season, color, type of item, or style, and to test every conceivable closet-content combination at least once. Whatever your style, part of your methodology should include picking only those particular pieces that you really, really love and then translating them so that the whole, of which they form parts, speaks your style language.