The Hunt: Booties for Work

Booties for Fall | Corporette

2017 Update: We still like a lot of these booties for work, but you may also want to check out our most recent discussion on what boots to wear with tights to work

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Booties: they’re in one season, out the next — but right now they’re hot. They’re inherently a more casual look than, say, pumps — boots become more and more casual the blockier the heels get, and the more Western-y the details get; a seam or two is on one end of the spectrum, while fringe, buckles, and belts are on the other end. For casual days at the office they can be great with ankle pants (worn with low, hidden socks so your ankles are still exposed), tights and skirts for casual days, or — if hemmed appropriately — trousers or flares. (The bottom of the hem should graze the top of your foot, leaving only about 1/2″ of heel exposed in the back.)  On the weekends, of course, they’re great with all sorts of denim, and the bare-leg-plus-bootie look continues to go strong (but to me that really looks like a weekend look!). I thought I’d round up a few that look great to me — readers, which are your favorite booties this season?  Which are your favorite styles of booties (e.g., pump-booties, stiletto booties, rugged booties, wedge booties) to wear to work — or do you primarily wear them on the weekends?

(Another fun question: we haven’t talked about peep-toe booties in AGES — what’s your feeling about them now? Yea or nay?)

First, some roundups of special interest shoes (unless noted, most links go to Nordstrom, or Zappos):

Bella Vita Cutout BootieI’m putting this well-reviewed bootie from Bella Vita first for a number of reasons (although it’s also one of our lowest priced options; for more see the category above for “Under $100”).  But it’s worth noting that the closer a bootie is to a classic pump, the more acceptable it’s likely to be at your workplace.  Here, note the skinny heel, the pointed toe, and even the cutouts on the vamp that make it feel like a lighter shoe.  I also like that the top of the shoe is lower in the front than the back — it’s a much more flattering, leg-lengthening look.  The pictured bootie is $99 (and available in wide and narrow sizes), but here are a few similar options from Tahari, Nine WestDonald J. Pliner, M.Gemi, and Stuart Weitzman (kinda sorta). Pictured: Bella Vita Cutout Bootie
Clarks Sage AriaAnother sleeker version of the ankle boot (but kinda old school): these Clarks.  (A few similar but pricier versions of stiletto booties: Cole HaanJimmy Choo, Manolo…)  These are harder to wear with ankle pants or skirts, IMHO, but if you’re a trouser girl, these are great.  The pictured boots are $130. Clarks Sage Aria
Sam Edelman PettyI noted them in our “Hall of Fame” category above, but these Petty boots from Sam Edelman continue to be wild bestsellers. The numbers testify: 530 mostly positive reviews at Zappos (selling 12 colors), 354 reviews at Nordstrom (selling 9 colors, including a new shearling-lined option I haven’t seen before) — wow. This is a great example of a walkable bootie that I would try at work, particularly with outfits where, in years past, I may have worn a flat knee-high boot.  The Petty boot is priced from $135-$160 in sizes 4-13 (some wides, too). Sam Edelman Petty Boot
Vince Camuto FrannelThese Vince Camutos, at $158, are a much more affordable option than the Rag & Bone booties that have been dominating the streets since 2012 or so, but they also seem like they might be better for both work and play because they’re less rugged (and the black is blacker).  I also like the dip in the shaft, the pointyish toe, and the price: they’re $159 at Nordstrom and Zappos, available in four colors, sizes 5.5-11. Vince Camuto ‘Franell’ Bootie
Kate Spade New York DarotaThese Kate Spade look like a great mix of the sleeker and the rugged booties — comfortable block heel, but with glam accents like the gold details on the heel, a flattering dip in the vamp, and dark black suede. Lovely.  They’re $398 at Zappos Couture, available in sizes 5-11.  Kate Spade New York Darota
Rag Bone Margot BootieThese Margot booties are the newer version (I believe) of the much-loved Harrow booties, and I like them better for work — they still have the flattering dip in the shaft, but with less hardware.  Rag & Bone boots are legendary for their comfort, too, so if you’re on the hunt for great 4″ boots (and have $525 to spend on boots), do consider these.  Rag & Bone Margot

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  1. There’s a video ad that automatically plays in the middle of the page (after the first post) on the main page, and also on each blog entry page (after the fold)… The audio doesn’t come on but the video does

    • Anonymous :

      I feel like all of these choices are…really boring. The Bella Vita ones aren’t bad, but as Kat points out they are really close to still being a pump.

      • Anonymous :

        For work, why don’t something more interesting like this Jessica Simpson bootie (on sale cheap at Nordstrom):

        • Anonymous :

          4 3/4 inch heel?? Guess Jessica Simpson has never worked in a professional office.

    • Since this problem keeps coming up from other users on this site I do think Kat should try to fix it but I highly recommend getting Ad Block in general – its amazing!!!

    • Fashion/One below the fold

      • Got it I think :)

      • And another:

        • I just reviewed pages and pages of best buy ads and didn’t see anything that looked suspicious — I blocked one S6 ad that would have been the right size but it looked like just a picture. Lmk if it comes up again — sorry about that.

  2. Hosting parties :

    I want to throw a party for my husband. Our friend network is fairly spread out, with some friends still living in The City and several other couples that have moved into various suburbs that are not necessarily a quick drive from each other. We also have 1-2 friends that will be flying into town and staying with us for the occasion.

    I’m thinking of hosting this at our house, but am at a little bit of a loss for how to throw a grown up birthday party. Do I serve dinner/ time it for dinner? Time it for after dinner and do heavy apps? Do I plan specific “entertainment” or provide food drinks and music and let people do their thing?

    I don’ tknow that i’ve gone to a non-wedding non-restaurant non-holiday party for adults. HELP!

    • Anonymous :

      It sounds like a big deal if people are coming in from out of town. I think a sit-down dinner sounds nice. After dinner sounds a bit late, especially if people have to drive a ways to get home. You could plan entertainment if you want (could be a nice touch), but I don’t think that’s necessary.

    • Really depends on number of people and whether there would be kids…assuming too many people for a full sit down and no kids, I’d do a dinnertime party (say a 6 or 7 pm start) with heavy apps including maybe a roast ham and or sushi station so that there was substantial food (people will drink more at night and you’ll want to make sure lots of food). I wouldn’t worry about formal entertainment for close friends who probably don’t get together too often. most I would do would be something silly like a quiz about your husband that people coudl fill out for a prize of some kind. Maybe put out some old pics and people can enjoy looking at those/reminiscing.

    • anon-oh-no :

      we throw lots of parties. I rarely do sit-down dinner parties, but almost always do sufficient food for meal and usually start at meal time (7/7:30 pm).

      My go-to meal is antipasto — basically lots of meats, cheeses, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, gigantes, olives, various nuts etc. And I will also usually include some pasta salads — like an orzo salad with spinach and feta. This is more than enough food for a meal, you don’t have to worry about keeping anything warm, it works great if people come and go at different times.

      Sometimes I get this catered, but its also a really easy one to do yourself.

      • Second! I get tons of compliments on my ridiculously lazy salami, cheese, pesto, baguette deal I put together. The other accoutrements make it lavish and fantastic!

  3. I bought the Petty in a light color (sand maybe?) earlier this year and am having trouble fitting it in to my wardrobe. I bought it more for casual wear and didn’t think about it for work. I’m hoping to get more wear out of it as it gets colder/more fall like, but am I thinking of it wrongly? Should I consider wearing to work? If so, with what? It sounds like everyone has this boot but I can’t figure out what to wear it with! I looked on some outfit boards and all the looks are pretty casual. TIA!

    • SuziStockbroker :

      Yeah, I bought it too, in slate seude, and have only worn it with jeans. I can’t imagine how I would wear it to work, but we are business formal here…..

    • westcoastjd :

      I own the petty in black leather and wear it all the time to work both under work pants (where it looks a lot like a loafer, and less like a boot) as well as with skirts or dresses and black tights. I also wear on Fridays with skinny jeans tucked in. Personally, I would also wear a lighter color also with black tights — this would work in my fairly-conservative-but-business-casual office.

  4. Midwest Mama :

    I’m trying to get with the bootie trend this year (I’m late, I know), but I’m struggling. I’m interested to hear how you all wear them in your off-time and more casually. I know I would be looking for flat booties, but I’m unsure how to wear them. With skinny jeans? Rolled up? With leggings? I don’t usually wear dresses on the weekends, so that look is out for me. Also, I’m having a hard time finding a flat style I like. I know the Petty shown above has been recommended a ton….but I just don’t like it. Maybe I should just stick with my knee high boots. Sigh, I’m old.

    • Midwest Mama :

      Haha, now I see VKJ posted a very similar question just before I did. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • Anonymous :

      They look great with rolled up skinny jeans, or skinny jeans tucked into them. I also think they look really cute with tights and a dress/tunic.

    • Meg March :

      I would wear them any of the ways you suggested! I think since it’s a chunkier look, you go for skinny jeans/leggings/tights. Boyfriends jeans are good, as long as you cuff them (so your ankle is the streamlined part of the look). You just gotta balance it out a little bit :)

  5. I have a plain leather version of these that I wear to work all.the.time:

    I also have a high heel (skinny), pointy toe pair that look a bit like the first pair but without the buckle and cut outs in black suede that I like to wear with dresses. In general, I think simple is best here – I stay away from too many details, cut outs, straps, etc. Also, because I wear a lot more dresses/skirts than pants, I like booties that dip a bit lower in the front so as to not cut my leg off at the ankle.

    I don’t think I am going to ever get on board with peep toe booties, they just do not make sense to me.

  6. I’m in biglaw and have put on a lot of weight since I started a few years ago.
    For the second time in less than a month, someone asked me if I am pregnant.
    I feel like I can’t fix this. I’m like 50 lbs. overweight now.
    I just my office door and am trying not to cry.

    • shopping challenged :

      I don’t have any advice for you, just solidarity. I’m 50 lb overweight too. I’ve gotten tired of constantly pushing to lose the weight, only to have hard-lost pounds bounce back easily. I’ve decided to focus on getting strong and building up muscle on my butt and broadening my lats. I hope to be moving before the year is out, to a place where I will lose weight with all the walking to commute. The thing I hate most about this weight is not obtuse observations from others, but feeling ignored overall.

    • Anonymous :

      I am so sorry that happened to you! I know how hard it can be to lose weight when you are literally working ALL THE TIME. The best advice I can give you is to eat as clean as you can as often as you can. Stick with whole foods and try to avoid highly processed stuff. Also, I have had success lately with HIIT- on a treadmill or elliptical. Just 20-25 minutes burns a ton of calories and spikes your metabolism for over 24 hours. Even if you don’t lose a ton of weight, getting healthy and feeling like you’re trying can totally change your view of your body. Good luck out there and remember you are so much more than how you look.

    • Wildkitten :

      I have totally been there and people have totally said that to me and I have totally cried. You need to buy new clothes that fit your body. What makes you look pregnant, I have decided, is trying to fit a larger body into smaller clothes. When you have clothes that fit your new body you will just look like a curvier version of your skinnier self, instead of looking knocked up.

    • BeenThatGuy :

      I’m sorry this happened to you; now twice. If you want to loose the weight, it’s not impossible. You just have to loose 1 pound, 50 times. Take it 1 at a time. Don’t think past that 1 pound. You’ll get there.

    • HUGS!

      When I was working late and ordering in, my rule was Only Sushi. I’m not crazy about sushi (but love wasabi, or the green horseradish stuff they call wasabi). But I could order enough to make the delivery minimum easily but it wasn’t so calorie dense that I was gaining weight.

      Good luck!

      • My partner’s son is an investment banker who followed this mantra only to end up in the hospital with mercury poisoning. I think sushi is a great option, but maybe stick with low mercury fish and avoid ones with high mercury.

        • Anonymous :

          Is he Jeremy Piven? ;) Not trying to make light of his illness but I didn’t know real people got mercury poisoning and not just whiny actors.

    • lawsuited :

      Honestly, people who ask women whether they’re pregnant are either (a) crazy, (b) jerks or (c) both. It’s so socially clueless to ask a women whether she’s pregnant when you’re not sure that I’m not sure you should put too much stock in their opinions.

      Also, I know not everyone thinks this way, but being fat is not the worst thing, so consider where your unhappiness over needing to “fix” it is coming from and whether it’s necessary.

    • I have been there as well – in January I subscribed to WW Personal Coaching. It’s a 15 min phone call each week, completely customized to your situation. Since I started I have lost 43 lbs and I have 7 to go to reach my goal weight. My size has gone from a 14 to an 8. Honestly, it hasn’t been that difficult, it’s just taken focus and a commitment to myself (and not just work, my husband, kids, etc)

      • Oh Sheesh, you all are making me cry! For goodness sakes, I am 50 lbs overweight but happy and well-regarded. What got me over the hurdle of self-deprecation following the initial weight gain was this: everywhere I went, I presented myself like I was Queen Latifah. What a smart, strong, sexy, confident woman! Who is 50 lbs overweight! My point is, it’s about self-acceptance and confidence. Being overweight means you eat well. So the f what! :)

  7. shopping challenged :

    I love booties for all the reasons above. I have a few outfits where I wear them with skirts too. I am really not into heels, so booties often save the day for me.

    My first intro to booties was searching for work shoes with a friend of mine who is a construction engineer. Besides all the usual requirements for office appropriateness, she also needed to have a bit of insulation so she could wear them for visits to the job site. When I realized a professor I know wears them to lecture, I was hooked. I got my first pair and have had several pairs since.

  8. SF/LA Vacation :

    Hi all, I have friends in both SF and LA and we are hoping to get a group together for a long weekend in October or November somewhere between the two cities. There will be around 6-10 of us, all of us in our early 30’s, possibly one 18-month baby but otherwise no kids. We were hoping to rent a house or cabin somewhere. We are relatively outdoorsy and love good food and wine, and are looking for somewhere we can spend a relaxing weekend together with hiking/biking/beaches/sunshine/views/etc. The location doesn’t need to be exactly equidistant between the two cities, but the majority of us will be coming from SF so if it’s closer to one of the two it would be better if it’s closer to SF. Any ideas? Thanks in advance :)

    • Anonymous :

      Carmel, Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara would all be nice options.

    • Monterey or Big Sur. Maybe even the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.

    • Santa Barbara area, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and if the LA folks are willing, Carmel would all work. Sunset magazine will have recs for all.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I spent Labor Day weekend in the Paso Robles area and it was fabulous. Hiking, bicycling, wine tasting (we hired a limo so we didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving and it was awesome), spent a great day at a day spa, Hearst Castle is close by and well worth a look, and there are great restaurants in San Luis Obispo. Bonus: it’s pretty much exactly equidistant from SF and LA.

    • Morro Bay, with a day trip to a winery in Paso Robles.

    • SF/LA Vacation :

      Thanks, all! I’ll check out these ideas :)

  9. Diana Barry :

    So are knee-high boots on the way out now? What do I wear with my suits and tights in the winter, if not those?

    • TO Lawyer :

      I don’t think knee-high boots are “trendy” now but I think they’re always acceptable to wear, especially in places with a real winter.

      I really like booties but I feel like they look better with jeans as a casual look than with work clothes. So I’m still planning on wearing my knee-high boots this winter.

  10. Hypothetical question!

    what would you do if (a) your spouse wanted to leave his/her stable, well paying job to found a startup.

    (b) assume a 25% paycut and assume spouse is primary breadwinner and that you have fine, but not great, financials (don’t own a home, still have student loans, but pretty good savings).

    (c) assume you are expecting your first child.


    • just me, but :

      I would shut that one down.
      There is nothing more difficult and more of a crapshoot than working for yourself. My FIL did it and there were years he just did not get paid. If he wants to do a startup, he should do it in his free time. If it takes off, then maybe he can quit the stable job. But most startups were founded this way barring someone’s brilliant idea that got venture capital funding out of the gate .

      • Anonymous :

        This is solid advice. Take it from someone who has seen their parents struggle when dad’s business was going through tough times. With a baby on the way, this is too risky.

    • “(b) assume a 25% paycut”


      This^ +1st child + “primary breadwinner” = Shut that right down.

    • I would ask him to hold off for now with promise to reevaluate in a year. I think that plus a new baby is a lot of stress to take on at once, especially considering the remaining loans. Also how can you even count on only a 25 pct pay cut when company doesnt even exist yet? Im not saying shoot down his dream, but I think it would be much better to wait until you are settled back into your job post-baby.

      That said, I’m about to go back to work from maternity leave myself so I’m viewing it from that perspective. The transition is stressful enough even though spouse and I both have stable jobs, own a home, have no student debt, and have good savings.

    • I would also shut that down. I would encourage him to start the startup while still working, see if it is sustainable, and then reevaluate leaving his job once the startup looks like a way to make a living. Leaving a job for a startup he hasn’t started yet seems really unsafe.

    • Anonymous :

      I would say maybe, depending on the following:
      – the benefits that your job and his job provide.
      – the startup and how mature it is, which round of funding, etc.
      – flexibility provided by the startup.
      – his lifelong career goals; if this has been something he’s always wanted to do, I would be hesitant to deny it, especially because it’s better to do it now that 5 years from now.

    • Personally, I’d ask him to wait until the baby was at least a year old.

    • If he’s expecting outside funding, most sophisticated angels will want to see him bootstrapping fir a while, meaning little or no salary. 25% paycut if he’s a founder is pretty unrealistic unless he already has a generous round lined up.

      • Diana Barry :

        +1. I would expect no salary for a year.

        • Diana Barry :

          Also, some people do found startups *while still working their day job*, but that entails working maybe 90 hrs/week if the day job is a “regular” 40 hr/week job.

    • Coach Laura :

      After I stopped screaming? Kidding, somewhat. The problem with a first child is that you don’t know what you’re getting into. The problem with a startup is that you don’t know what you’re getting into.

      Upon full reflection, the answer might be: how good are the pregnant spouse’s benefits; how likely the pregnant one is to return to her job and how many (paid) weeks of leave can be taken; how easily the spouse/non-pregnant one could find another job if the startup failed; how funding for the startup will be provided; how much other support does the couple have (e.g. family nearby).

      The big question is how do you know that the pay-cut is only 25%? With a start-up, nothing is guaranteed.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I was with you until I got to (c).

      I am Team Don’t Quit Your Day Job with a Baby on the Way.

      • lawsuited :

        +1 You and your spouse can live on love and Kraft dinner while your spouse tries to make his dream a reality, but your baby really can’t.

    • to answer question: company is already funded, spouse would be being brought on by the investors to run it (thus why spouse knows what salary would be and it is a 25% paycut).

      • Anonymous :

        That sounds like a steady job for a year or so, at least. Do you think the company will work out?

        • Who knows! I’m biased but I think spouse would have a better chance of success than average bear, but obviously odds still negative. I am most concerned with how much time/energy this will take up + having less money to throw at problems/pay for conveniences (which only increases stress).

          I guess I feel like I can’t really say no, and should be supportive (and would be if it would not directly affect me/I made a lot more money). I think maybe I’ve learned my lesson that I am not comfortable being financially dependent to any degree on someone else. (I have a good job but coudln’t pay all our bills by myself).

          • Senior Attorney :

            I think you are absolutely entitled to voice a strong opinion that this is not a good time for such a risky venture. Presumably you two decided together to start a family now, and when he signed up for that he signed up to continue supporting the family in the manner to which you two have become accustomed.

            What about tackling it from the other side and downsizing your lifestyle? Smaller apartment? One car instead of two? Are there any ways you can make big cuts in your overhead that would make it more comfortable for you to say “yes?”

            Or can he negotiate for something closer to his current salary? Or a signing bonus so you’ll have a financial cushion?

          • While I disagree with the various comments urging you to “shut it down” (are you married, people?) I absolutely agree that you should raise concerns, ask questions, and negotiate with him to make sure this is workable. You don’t need to be unquestioningly supportive. This isn’t just about you and him anymore, with a baby on the way. You both need to be confident and secure that the family will be provided for while he takes a calculate career risk. Risk is not bad – it could pay off great in the long run – but you both need to be clear about the risks to your family and manage them.

          • Coach Laura :

            After reading the follow-up from the OP, I agree somewhat with Snickety. Considering all the options and ramifications is important as is communication. Many people have jobs with less than one year of “security”, that is, their job could end in a year or less without warning. If OP’s partner takes the job and gives it a shot for a year, most likely OP’s spouse could take an exit with another job lined up if the start-up didn’t work out. I’d suggest that OP perhaps could say something like “We determined together that you should do this, and if x, y or z happen and we both are not cool with it in x months, then Spouse will look for a new job. And during that time we’ll save X% of salary to create an extra emergency fund.” Or whatever parameters the couple decide upon. Otherwise, if in 9 months it’s not working out, spouse can’t say “Well we agreed I could do it and I want to stick it out, even though it’s now a 75% pay cut.”

      • Maddie Ross :

        Given this, I would ask (a) what do your savings look like (more your safety net savings than retirement, but both to a certain extent), and (b) what type of opportunity would your husband have to return to his current field or another job if it didn’t pan out after a year? If you’ve got a cushion that feels comfortable to you, and assuming your husband would have other opportunities if things did not work out, I don’t know that it’s totally crazy. This is assuming you have health care coverage available through your job.

      • If you can afford the pay cut and your spouse is pretty employable if things don’t work out with the startup, the baby in the mix doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal (I’m saying this as someone with several kids).

    • I would be less concerned about the financial issues (given the clarification you’ve added) and more about having my partner working start-up hours during my pregnancy and the first year of our child’s life.

  11. Anyone have any recommendations for a swimsuit (2 piece or 1 piece for a long torso) for someone who is small on top (A cup) and a pear-shape? A suit with some kind of padding would be great. I am a mom, but don’t necessary want to wear a mom-suit if you know what I mean. Thanks.

    • I love, LOVE a good rashguard over a good bikini top. Bikini bottom and /or something like the LE mini swim mini on the bottom.

    • Anonymous :

      I despise their bras, but Victoria’s Secret makes some great bathing suits. You can get one sized to be an A-cup that will have ample padding.

      • Agree on VS bathing suits. Also, look for general accents up top – ruffles, fringe, etc., are your friend.

    • JCrew has a nice line of swimsuits, available all year long. They sell the tops and bottoms separately.

    • Anonymousaur :

      Voda Swim does two piece bathing suits that have really natural looking pushup in the tops (even triangle tops) and sell top & bottom separately (so you can get a XS or S top and a M bottom for example).

    • Anonymous :

      I recently discovered Cabana Life when they had a flash sale with 50% off sitewide. They have really cute swimwear for women and kids:

  12. Does anyone have experience with Hotter shoes? Price to quality ratio?

  13. Anonymous :

    Has anyone successfully repaired patent leather shoes? The tip of one of my AGLs has worn off. It’s not noticeable but it bothers me and I’d like to fix it.

    • This is probably a terrible suggestion but it’s all I can think of, given how difficult repairing patent is…


      • Anonymous :

        It’s a small spot so I may try it if I can find some black shinny polish.

    • KateMiddletown :

      Day late but try picking up some black shoe polish. I bought some ages ago for this same thing, then this weekend pulled it out as I was dusting off my fall-ish shoes. Makes a world of difference!

  14. fooey on peep toe booties, Kat! Who wants to get our feet wet in the rain! And in NYC, there’s poopie to look out for! DOUBEL FOOEY!

  15. Anonymous :

    I love my Rag & Bone booties for the weekend. But for something a little more professional Taryn Rose booties are my go-to. Professional, stylish and most importantly, comfortable!

  16. Stephanie :

    The Rag & Bone Margot booties have been marked down AGAIN since the last Nordstrom sale, which makes me wonder… are they uncomfortable or is there some reason why they are 40% off?

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