Maybe I’m clinging to my high school days, but my pulse quickened at the sight of all the fringed boots lining shoe store windows this winter. Again. Truth be told, I’m not lining up to buy a pair. Since the Minnetonka ankle boots I owned the summer I was 18, there have been no other suede moccasins claiming space in my closet … and yet the wannabe free spirit in me can’t quite let go of the idea that the right fringy footwear would transform me into a lithe Kate Moss or a bubbly Kate Hudson.
There has to be another way, I said to myself.
And so there is: Ruffles.
That’s right: ruffles on heels, on sandals and on boots. It’s an embelishment that’s been slowly but surely picking up steam, moving from little girl dresses to primly-ruffled blouses only to be re-envisioned, with much edgier, more subversive connotations, in footwear by the likes of Prada and Bakers.
Bloggers have been tracking the ruffle fetish, in some cases (Fashion Fabulous) since last spring. In the months since, the trend has only strengthened, landing on blog pages like Mom Logic and Fab Sugar. Steven Brunella’s ruffled t-straps (pictured above) go a long way toward summing up the winterized version: The earthy suede is made dressy with the tuxedo-y ripple down the front. Amalfi by Rangoni’s Rosa boot (see below) is a full-coverage take on the same theme: A three-inch heel elevates this bootie above school-girl cuteness, while the ankle bracelet of ruffled suede says dressy sophistication. Neither shoe is likely to be thrown on with a pair of jeans — almost unthinkable this days — but maybe it’s a good thing to have at least one denim-free style statement.
Of course, footwear that requires leaving the Levis in the closet: Not so much in keeping with my original Kate Moss-Kate Hudson vision. The heart of modern bohemia centers around carefully-contrived carelessness. Working ruffled footwear into a wardrobe takes a little forethought and probably some great leggings. Then again, escaping the fringed masses for a pair of shoes a little more grown up, a little artier and a little naughtier: well, change is a good thing, right? After all, my beloved Minnetonkas haven’t upgraded their tried-and-true hippy-girl formula in decades — chances are, if I ever need to return to the fringe, those mocs will be right there waiting for me.