Avoiding Artificial Cankles

Boot season is almost upon us! (Actually it is already upon those of us who believe that open-toed shoes shouldn’t be worn after about September 5. Meaning me. Yes, I am an odd duck.) Boots are a key element in most womens’ fall and winter wardrobes, and a pair exists to complement nearly every look.

But as versatile as boots are, they can be incredibly unflattering if paired with the wrong skirt or pant. With the popularity of Uggs and cowboys and slouchy boots and other styles that essentially fit our legs like contour-free cylinders of leather, whipping up an accidental set of artificial cankles is frighteningly easy.

So let us review the guidelines for flattering boot wearage before the cold really sets in!

Here’s a bit o’ info you’ve heard me say about eleventy gazillion times: It is unbelievably important to broadcast the presence of your delicious womanly curves in order to achieve maximum figure flattery. This is true of shirts, skirts, coats, pants, essentially all garments. And if you allow a set of curves in one sector of your body to be masked, you can generally offset that masking by wearing something more fitted elsewhere: Wideleg pants look best with a fitted top, and a voluminous sweater can still be sexy if paired with a sleek skirt.

Turns out these rules apply to boots as well, since they affect perception of our lower leg curves: Ankles and knees.

You take your ankles for granted, don’t you? You’re thinking, “C’mon, Sal, EVERYONE knows we’ve all got ankles. Do we really have to define them for the casual observer?”

YES YOU DO. Meet my Frye Campus boots. I adore them in their clunky, banged-up glory. But they are built like grain silos and among the least flattering shoes I own. Paired with this mid-calf skirt above, for instance, they give me mad artificial cankle. Below you’ll find the long view. (With apologies for decapitation. The combination of fright-wig hair, demonic red-eye, and super shiny night-face would distract the hell out of you, so I chose to crop.)

So we’re starting with the worst possible combo, here. The skirt falls mid-calf, which is an unflattering spot for anyone who isn’t a supermodel: By hitting the calf at its widest point and hiding the knee (where the leg narrows), a skirt of this length gives the impression of completely curvless legs. Additionally, the boots mask my ankles, another missed opportunity to define my womanly form for the observer. And here I’m wearing a loose top, which does nothing for my torso’s curves either! Triple whammy. You can hardly tell what my body looks like at all. I could be Twiggy or Oliver Hardy for all you know.

Wearing a fitted top offsets some of the negative skirt and boot effects, but this is still a pretty craptastic little outfit.


THIS is how I actually wear my sweet little spotted skirt: Fitted top and fitted knee-high boots. Neither helps with the calf flattery, but at least my waist and ankles are both defined, giving some impression of where the real me is hiding under all that cloth and leather.

Another fall boot-wearing style that I can hardly wait to sport is cropped cargos with tall boots. And yet …

… gotta watch it! Here’s another pairing that creates cankles where, in real life, there are none. The cropped pant hits me in the same spot as my skirt up above: Mid-calf. And since the Fryes fail to define my dainty little ankles, we’ve got some major tree-trunk leg going on, here.

I am much better off donning my new granny boots, which fit snugly and show off the curve of my ankle.

So what the heck CAN I wear with my beloved Fryes? And what can you lovelies wear with any fabulously fun fall boot that fails in the ankle definition department and hits your leg at near-knee?

A miniskirt is your absolute best option, if you’re comfortable wearing one. I know minis are bit revealing for some of us, but bear in mind that in a month or so, tights will be seasonally appropriate. Tights with a mini is a lot less scary than bare legs with a mini, no? In any case, since a miniskirt falls well above the knee, you can see how the entire leg is shaped. Doesn’t much matter that the ankles are hidden. Here, I’m in the optimal mini-and-fitted-top combo, BUT …

… since you’ve got so much bod revealed by wearing a skirt this short, you can even pair a mini and cylindrical boots with a slouchy top and get away with it! Yesssss.

OK, but miniskirts have limited application. What else can be worn with ankle-obscuring footwear?


Not much, kittens. In my opinion, your only other option for a knee-high, cylindrical boot is untucked pants or jeans. Doesn’t show much of the boot shaft, of course, but is still cute and flattering.

The problem with stuffing your jeans into a pair of Uggs is that they both mask ankle curves and often reach so high on your leg as to mostly mask your knees. No ankles, no knees, no optically identifiable lower body curves. Even the slenderest of willowy college girls can be made to look 10 pounds heavier if she sports this look.

If you’re hell-bent on jean tuckage, here’s what I’d recommend:
- Boots that taper in at the ankle, like my fitted knee-highs or granny boots pictured above
- Boots that hit mid-calf or lower, paired with slim-fitting jeans. A shorter boot paired with jeans that show off your calf-to-knee-to-thigh ratio can be really cute, and is far more flattering than shoving your jeans into knee-high ankle-maskers.

Hope this was helpful! For more photo-heavy how-to’s, take a peek at:
Know Your Necklines
Skirt to Leg to Shoe Ratio part 1, part 2, and part 3
How to Look Awesome in a Photo part 1, part 2, and part 3
Universally* Flattering Styles part 1 and part 2

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Who Wrote the Book of B’love?

Why, it’s Audi! If you’re not already addicted to her effortless pattern mixing, fabulous frocks, enviable shoe collection, and winning smile, get ye to Fashion for Nerds this instant.

Audi kindly bestowed upon me the Arte y Pico award – my second this week! I am blushing from all the wonderful b’love you fabulous femmes have doled out. I feel so supported and loved by our little community, and I am learning so much from you all. Thanks for letting me play in the sandbox witcha.

Rulez as followez:
The rules of Arte Y Pico are – you must pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting content, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language! Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to their blog. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself. The award winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of the Arte Y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

Now that you’ve got the background, let’s hear it for:

Michael McGraw Photography: Yes nepotism is alive and well in this little heart o’ mine. But if we’re talking ARTE here, my hubs is your man. In fact, he already won an award this week, too: A photo he’d placed in a juried exhibit won him a cash prize. SO proud. Take a peek at his gorgeous new(ish) series of tree photos.

Melissa Loves: An offshoot of the glorious Creature Comforts, Miss Meliss has style to spare and a totally loving and welcoming ‘tude to boot.

Angie at You Look Fab is a blogging hero of mine. Love her style, love her writing, love the supremely practical advice she gives, and love her attitude that everyone could and should dress their best to FEEL their best. (That last is, obviously, a sentiment we share.) Oh, and her site is so gorgeously designed, I frequently drool with envy.

Casey’s Musings is one of those blogs that gives me a little burst of happy every single day. Casey is just as clever and kind and gorgeous as she can be, and provides gobs of vintage inspiration, tutorials, and amazing photos with pleasing regularity. Another site so lush as to inspire fits of jealousy.

The universally beloved Lady Smaggle of Smaggle Style is SUCH an amazing wordsmith that I feel like I was right there with her for half the experiences she describes. This girl’s got the funk, and is bold in ways that I admire and aspire to emulate. Someday, she’s gonna teach me how to make my hair look just like hers, too.

Spread the b’love, por favor, mis amigas! Oh, and mi esposo!

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Suggestion Box

My beloved and faithful Sunday readers: Any suggestions for advice-y, how-to, tutorial type things you’d like to see me blather about?

I feel like I have no shortage of standard-issue rambly thinkings, but want to up my quotient of useful stylistic info. And I’d love to know what you’re most interested in. If you’ve got a topic that I can’t spout about off the top of my head, I’d love to dig into some research. So lay those suggestions on me.

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