There’s no clearer sign that fall is here than the crowds of chic city-ites pounding the pavement in boots. And with good reason: A great pair of boots is the perfect transition piece. Wear slouchy ones with a floral sundress for a movie date, slide riding boots over your fave skinny jeans for Sunday brunch, or pair a sleek version with a pencil skirt for instant office style. Here are my picks for the best places to get your footwear fix.
1. Head Start Shoes
This cozy corner shop offers a fashion-forward selection from names like Dries Van Noten, Roberto Del Carlo and Ixos (check out their adorable ankle-grazing booties). I’m craving their butter-soft leather boots by Fiorentini and Baker, which come in perfectly muted shades of camel, chocolate and gray.
126 South 17th Street, 215-567-3247, headstartshoes.com.
2. Joan Shepp
At Shepp’s shoe lounge, you’ll find Junya Watanabe boots with carved wooden heels, Chloe booties covered with teeny gold studs and buckles, rather severe-looking Ann Demeulemeester lace-up combat boots—basically, all the avant-garde, hot-off-the-runway looks you’ve come to expect from this Walnut Street fashion hotspot, as well as the ubiquitous red-soled darlings of the red carpet. I’m coveting Martin Margiela’s draped ankle boots in impossibly soft caramel-hued leather and Louboutin’s ever-classic, totally-worth-the-investment black stiletto boot.
1616 Walnut Street, 215-735-2666, joanshepp.com.
3. Bus Stop Boutique
Stop by Elena Brennan’s quirky Fabric Row gem for an amazingly well-edited collection of fall-perfect footwear. Some standouts: Knee-high Fornarina boots in gray and burgundy leather; black Coclico ankle boots studded with brown buttons, cheekily reminiscent of spats; light brown cowboy-esque boots from eco-friendly Terra Plana with cool recycled quilt detailing at the top; and, for the daring, butterscotch Pour la Victoire thigh-highs with gold buttons.
750 South 4th Street, 215-627-2357, busstopboutique.com.
4. Steve Madden
Let’s face it: Sometimes the Louboutins and Manolos are just a tad out of our reach. Which is why Steve Madden is great — their Walnut Street location still gives off that chic boutique feel, and the reasonable prices let you scoop up super-trendy styles without worrying about not getting mileage out of them next season (open-toed booties, for instance). Their brown leather and gold-buttoned Elivate booties would look great paired with a slim skirt and tights, while the Delilaa boots, in luxe-looking suede with a stacked heel, are just begging to be paired with a sundress and belted sweater.
Multiple locations, stevemadden.com.
5. J. Karma
This airy Old City boutique carries refreshingly comfy (and surprisingly stylish!) Clarks, sleek equestrian-inspired styles by Faryl Robin and, the always-chic standby, Frye. I’m planning on shelling out some green for Faryl Robin’s knee-skimming riding boots to add an instant dash of style to the jeans-and-a-tee combo.
62 North 3rd Street, 215-627-9625, jkarmaboutique.com.