"Boots are now the culmination of science and style," says Gennie Stuart, director of product management for Rockport. The trend for this fall and probably next is dress boots, Stuart says, but they can still be warm, thanks to shearling lining, and water-resistant because the leather is seam-sealed.
Of course, many wearers are attracted to boots, especially ones with tall shafts, because they can make legs appear longer.
That sparks a chain reaction. The wearer is looking good and feeling good, and that boosts her confidence, observes Anneli Shearer, spokeswoman for Cole Haan, and confidence can translate into sexiness.
She adds: "There's also something sexy about the knee. ... Wearing patterned stockings or bare leg draws attention to that little bit of leg showing and that's sexy."
Top women's styles at Cole Haan are a short-shaft, high-heeled bootie, an "urban cowboyish" mid-calf boot, and simple, riding-style boots with tall shafts and narrow (but not stiletto) high heels.
"Fashion" boots can be adapted for winter weather by adding durable rubber outsoles that offer good traction and drainage, says Stuart. Technological advances created water-resistant leather and nubuck, and waterproof but breathable Gore-Tex linings.
"Keeping your feet dry is very important but keeping them breathing is even more important," she explains, because trapped sweat will make feet cold.
Men are embracing the stylish-yet-practical boot trend, too. They are being offered a variety of styles, just like women, so it's no longer lumberjack or nothing.
Also, it's acceptable in many offices for men to pair suits with short dress boots, especially now that the boot styles emulate popular shoe styles, Shearer says.