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Radley Stories

Style Notes

How To Pick Between The Different Types Of Boots For Women: A Guide

18 August 2023

What different types of boots are in style? And when were they first created? Find the answers to these questions and discover more about their history and boots trends over the years in our Radley London footwear guide.

When Were Boots Invented?

It’s right to say that footwear has come a long way since it was first created. We know that one of the earliest shoes was the Roman sandal, a strappy design made using leather that you’ll still see around today. A lesser known fact is that Roman men and women also wore a type of leather boot, called a ‘calcei’, an outdoor shoe that covered more of the feet than their better-known sandals. 

Another example of the first boots in history comes from a cave painting discovered in Spain, dating between 120000-15000 B.C.E., in which a man and woman were wearing boots crafted in furs or skins. 

Of course, since then, women’s footwear has developed much further - from the mules of the 1700s to the leather trainers in fashion that have become one of the most popular choices today. There are now so many options available. One of our favourites has to be women’s boots. They’re a must-have every autumn, but as there are so many styles, you’ll be able to find a pair for any weather, event and occasion. All with differing hardware, materials, heel heights and fastenings. 

When shopping for a new pair, you might be unsure where to start. But that’s what we’re here for. First things first, what boots are on-trend right now?


What Different Types of Boots Are in Style? 

As with everything in fashion, trends come and go. And footwear is the same. You might think sandals are for summer and boots are for autumn, but according to trends your favourite styles could be the shoe of the moment in any season. Recent years have shown boots as one of the most popular styles, so much so that they’ve even become a summer staple. That’s right, boots in summer, which means even your prettiest dresses can be worn with your chunky biker boots according to Spring/Summer shoe trends.

And when it comes to fashion, there’s never just one option. Shoe micro trends allow you to give all your shoes the time and attention they deserve throughout the year. So even if Chelsea boots aren’t having a big fashion moment, you can still rely on them to complete your outfit and look great doing it.  

Different Boot Styles

Where do we start? There are so many different types of boots for women. From heeled or platform, ankle to thigh-high, boots come in many variations. In our Radley London guide, we’ll tell you all about the differences between each style so you can find the ones you love the most. 


Types of Ankle Boots

Perhaps the hardest-working pair in every wardrobe. Ankle boots are the one style that really do go with anything - dresses, skirts, trousers. You name it. Once you have a pair, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. The perfect women’s boots for winter and autumn, they’re versatile, comfortable and easy to wear, so you can’t really go wrong. But we’ve pulled together some information on the different options to help you find the ones best for you.


Chelsea boots

One of the most common types of ankle boots for both women, and more recently, men too. (In fact, a previous One Direction star is known for wearing this footwear. Harry Styles can often be seen in Chelsea boots.) Just like it sounds, Chelsea boots earned their name from the affluent area of London. A smart choice always designed with signature elasticated side panels - a handy feature that helps to pull them on and off easily - and crafted in leather or suede. If you choose a suede pair, do remember that this material can be ruined by water. Luckily, there are ways to prevent too much damage and clean suede items. 


Biker boots

One of the chunkier types of ankle boots, often designed with a thick rubber sole, laces and extra hardware, like zips and buckles. It’s thought biker boots were inspired by engineer boots of the 1920s that were worn by railroad workers. Later, this style was adopted by motorcyclists due to the protection offered by the leather. While the details have changed over the years, they are still made with the same ankle shape and durable leather. 

While they typically have a tough, utility look, that doesn’t mean they can’t be worn with more feminine outfits. We’re talking floral dresses and flowing maxi skirts. In terms of trends, this is one of the best timeless types of boots as they’re never really out of style. 


Jeans boots 

A lesser known design but equally as stylish. A jeans boot is the type that looks great with - you guessed it - jeans. They often have a low heel, discreet zip fastening and an ankle height that looks great with your favourite denim. Our Radley London jeans boots are crafted in different shades of sumptuous suede, although you may find alternatives in other textures. 

Types of Long Boots

Super stylish but just as versatile as ankle boots, we think thigh-high or mid-calf boots also deserve a place in your wardrobe. All the best types of long boots have been carefully designed to fit not just the feet, but the legs too. This extra coverage means more warmth during colder seasons, making these some of the best options of women’s boots for winter and autumn. From functional or sport-inspired silhouettes to fashionable pairs, there are a few different long boots to choose from.


Riding boots

Inspired by those worn by horse riders, these long leather women’s boots are generally simple and smart. Just like the original designs, fashion riding boots are also crafted in leather with rubber soles, a small raised heel and full-length zips. You may even find styles with the same soft, stretchy fabric sections - a feature added to allow for comfortable and easy movement while on horseback. Some more recent versions may also offer an extra zip along the top edge to increase the size around the thigh for a more adjustable fit. 

Now a beloved equestrian-inspired fashion staple that denotes elegance, femininity, these long boots can be worn day to day over fitted jeans and trousers, or with tights and dresses. Catherine, Princess of Wales is often spotted wearing riding boots.


Thigh-high boots

Similar to the silhouette of riding boots, but even longer. Thigh-high boots reach up over the knee. That means they’ll need to be crafted using super soft leathers that are much more flexible and comfortable. Alternatively, some may use sumptuous suede, while some may have textured animal print finishes. As with all boots, there are so many types, which means you might find thigh-high boots with thick platforms, high block or stiletto heels or flat soles. One thing is for sure, these are boots that will make an impact. 


Western boots

Recently, these have been the styles taking the fashion world by storm. Western boots are most often crafted in leather with a mid-calf length, pointed toes, low angled heels and decorative leather details. They aren’t the only cowboy trend to appear in recent years. We’ve previously enjoyed fringing, Western shirts and of course, denim. One thing to think about when wearing any of these items is how best to style them. Wearing cowboy boots with simple outfits or contrasting polished pieces is the best idea, as there’s a fine line between wearing this trend and looking like you’re in costume (although if it’s anything like Margot Robbie’s cowgirl Barbie look from 2023’s hit movie, we don’t see any problems).


Types of High Heel Boots 

Different types of ankle boots and most types of long boots can also be high heeled. We mentioned that Western boots have a slanted heel and jeans boots may have one too, whereas thigh-high styles and Chelsea boots may have a chunky platform or cleated sole. 

If you’re looking to add a little extra height to your look, find your favourite type of boots then shop from both the flat and heeled options to see what you prefer. The choice is really up to you. 

When shopping types of high heel boots, consider comfort as well as style. You might find that block heels provide more support for your foot than stiletto heels, even if you prefer the glamour of the thin-heeled shoe. But when it comes to shopping boots, one thing is for certain. There’s a lot to choose from. 

Types of Rain Boots

The best types of boots for wet, muddy or stormy weather conditions (that doesn’t just mean they’re women’s boots for winter, here in England, that could be all year round). Let’s talk about wellies. That’s what we call them, but you might also hear other names for wellingtons, such as rain boots, galoshes or even gumboots. You can read more of their names and find out all about Wellies In Fashion with our guide. 

Here at Radley London, we love our wellies. To us, they mean muddy dog walks, jumping in puddles, exploring the outdoors and even attending our favourite summer festival. And our wellington aren’t just types of long boots as we have ankle boot sizes, medium silhouettes and classic long wellies too. Unlike our other types of boots for women, which have been made with premium leathers, our wellies are of course crafted using traditional natural, waterproof rubber. 


Tips on How to Buy Shoes That Fit 

All this talk of shoes has got us in the mood to start shopping. Thinking of heading into one of our Radley London stores? Take a look at our shoe fitting tips before you go to make sure the types of boots you choose have the right fit. 

  • It’s better to shop for shoes in the afternoon. Feet naturally swell up slightly throughout the day, so you’ll want to make sure your new shoes fit comfortably once this has happened. 

  • When you’ve found a pair you like, always try them on. Take some steps around the store as wearing them will help you locate any tightness or rubbing. You should be able to fit one finger in the back of your shoe while you’re wearing them. If there’s space for more, you may need to size down.  

  • Wear the types of socks you’ll use with those shoes if you purchase them. Trying shoes with thicker or thinner socks won’t give you an accurate feel for the comfort or fit.  

The Best Leather Boots 

Our boots checklist goes something like this: must be expertly crafted; must use genuine, natural leathers; must be made to last. It’s what we believe in, whether it’s leather handbags or footwear. It’s why our Radley London leather boots tick all those boxes. You’ve probably already heard all about our gold standard leather, sourced from Leather Working Group (LWG) accredited tanneries, but if not you can read all about it (and more) over in our Sustainability hub. 


If, like us, you’re also in the mood for a little shopping, we know just where to start. Take a look at our New Arrivals to browse the latest handbags, accessories and footwear. Or head over to Radley Stories to read more about our Craft & Design and discover our style guides on The Best Work Bags or The Most Luxurious Leather Totes.