I figured out the black opaque tights rule, by the way. Bit tardy for this year but, you know, better late than never. You can only wear them if there’s an “r” in the month (borrowed that part from oysters), but no “p”. (Think about it.)
But no rule, even one I made up myself, could keep me from wearing ankle boots all year round. I have possibly mentioned once or twice before that I have a borderline problem with ankle boots. And, possibly not unrelated, while I have a zero-tolerance rule on unseasonal black tights, there is almost never a day (or in a heatwave, an evening) that I spend in this country in which I can rule out an ankle boot.
The whole fashion-as-armour thing is a tired old meme these days, but there’s something about the stomp-factor of a boot that gives a very real sense of hardiness. When my feet are fully shod, armadillo-like, I am a tougher person. This is partly practicality: the comfort factor of a shoe is in direct correlation to the amount of your foot it is using to support itself. (I’m all about the made-up rules today.) When a sandal is trying desperately to cling on to you using only shoelace-thin straps around your foot and ankle, you can expect to suffer; hot weather exacerbates this, and painful shoes can bring a grown woman to her knees. By contrast, a well-made, not-too-high pair of ankle boots is as comfortable as a pair of socks.
To make a boot work for spring, you need a gap. Forget the thigh gap; the calf gap – a vertical slice of visible skin, from knee-ish to ankle – is what early summer fashion is all about. Even if you are sceptical about the boot as a high-summer option, you can embrace it now as an interseason crutch. Think of it as an alternative to the spring cropped-trouser-and-court-shoe look, which, while still acceptable, is on the verge of becoming a little bit Sam Cam. Yes, I know, ouch, but cruel to be kind and all that. So anyway, the spring boot – which you wear with a bare calf and a dress or skirt that ends around the knee – has the same sense of celebrating the still-weak sunshine, but more style points.
Now I come to think of it, the very idea of rationalising my ankle boot collection is insanity, and I may need a few more pairs.
Stylist: Lucy Trott at Carol Hayes Management. Hair and makeup: Beth Alderson at Carol Hayes Management.