After getting caught in the rain in ballet pumps one too many times last month, I finally caved in and bought a pair of what could be considered "sensible winter shoes". The pair in question (Marks and Spencer Autograph Patent Leather Flat Riding Boots, £135) haven't left my feet since. So, although we can't predict the weather, we can make smart seasonal shoe purchases. However, it's fair to say that there are some styles that have more longevity than others. Mesh ballet pumps were a hot topic of conversation in autumn, and mid-heel shoes have been dominating the street style circuit for the last year or so, but when it comes to a shoe that you can wear in the rain, snow, storms and sunshine, fashionable Londoners have been eschewing buzzy trends and turning back to the classics for inspiration.
After all, what we require from our shoes during the winter differs from any other season. In spring and summer, we tend to prioritise fashion over function, because the last thing we want to think about during a heatwave is putting on more layers; and in autumn we switch between trainers, sandals and boots until the weather makes up its mind. But winter calls for practicality first, and judging by what's happening on the feet of London's best dressed, there are a handful of key styles topping the list for both style and substance, and they're all pairs we're already familiar with (they may already be in your wardrobe).
So, should you be ready to brave the cold, here are our picks of the six most discussed winter shoe trends turning heads in the capital now and well into 2024.
1. SHERPA BOOTS
Style Notes: London might not be known for its treacherous terrain, but if you're looking for comfy shoes that'll stand up to anything winter has to throw at you, Sherpa boots are a good choice. These shearling-lined, lace-up boots with sturdy soles are just as well suited to trekking around the countryside as they are to a chilly weekend in the city, and if the UGG phenomenon taught us anything, it's just how much we love a boot that prioritises cosy comfort first (sorry, stilettos).
2. BIKER BOOTS
Style Notes: The ultimate cool-girl status symbol is no longer the biker jacket, but instead the biker boot—think thick soles, distressed leather and plenty of hardware. After spotting moto boots on influencers, editors and the autumn/winter runways, we're convinced that these long-wearing boots will be stomping their way into 2024 too, so consider them a wise investment.
3. LOW-HEEL, KNEE-HIGH BOOTS
Style Notes: An oldie but a goodie, the knee-high boot has served us well over the years, but 2023 has given it a wearable update by lowering the height of the heel. Yes, where once kitten heels were looked down upon as the least sexy style, we now can't get enough of the micro heel that provides just enough lift for a sophisticated silhouette but doesn't require a stockpile of gel insoles.
4. SOCKS AND LOAFERS
Style Notes: Perhaps less of a trend and more of a styling update, but we've spotted more wool socks with loafers in the past few weeks than at any other time. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with jeans and trousers becoming more cropped, but right now the focal point of a simple but stylish outfit is penny loafers worn with a pair of neutral socks—a look that almost certainly never dates.
5. COWBOY BOOTS
Style Notes: This isn't the cowboy boot's first rodeo, but we're happy to welcome them back with open arms. Whether you tuck in your jeans or wear them with an easy, knitted dress (like Nicole Ocran, above), this style is always always a conversation starter. Most likely, "Where did you get those?"
6. PARTY FLATS
Style Notes: Don't like wearing heels to parties? You're not alone, and this year undoubtedly belongs to the flat party shoe; the sensible but still glitzy alternative to the skyscraper heel. There's no need to worry about tripping in these pretty pumps and bedazzled slingbacks—they'll save your feet from the all-nighter ache so you can spend longer on that dance floor. Just add a full-skirted minidress or a slouchy suit and you're good to go.