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Buckles add a twist to your wardrobe that can go from traditional to punk

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 8:29 p.m.

Boots with buckles — functional or decorative — add something unique to your footwear.

“Buckles and hardware can go two different ways, from traditional and equestrian to really punk, depending on the style of boot and how the buckles are done on the boot,” says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. “A pair of flat riding boots with brass buckles at the knee or instep or boots that are covered with buckles will each lend a different look.”

The buckle trend is part of lots of ornamentation on footwear, Andrews says. Some of it is functional to help with sizing and fit while other buckle details are purely aesthetic.

“Boots with buckles are a great way to change a look,” Andrews says. “It takes the basic boot silhouette and turns it up a notch. We are seeing buckles on boots of all colors and heel heights. If you don't own a pair of boots with buckles, you should. You will find that they complement many items in your wardrobe.”

An embellishment or adornment on a boot adds style and flair, says Shane Holman, director of global Western trends and market development for boot-maker Ariat.

“In some cases, buckles are there on a fashion boot to look like a boot used in the military or for utility purposes,” Holman says. “A fashion boot is supposed to look that way, but does not need to hold up to the same utilitarian purposes. Boots with buckles look great with leggings or skinny jeans. A person should show off their buckles as the latest trend.”

For the military-inspired look, wear leggings and an oversized sweater and boots with buckles, Holman says. If you want a more-classic, sophisticated equestrian look, then pair skinny jeans, a collared shirt and a blazer with boots with buckles.

“Whether on high heel or flat, ankle height or knee, boots or booties with buckled detail are definitely on trend for this season,” says Jill Rubinstein, owner of Footloose in Shadyside.

Amber Herring, accessories editor for Self magazine, says Alexander Wang showed lots of boots with buckles on the runway.

“Buckles create a little bit of a tougher look, a motorcycle look,” Herring says. “They can look sweet with just one buckle or a little more edgy with several buckles.”

The best option to start with is a black riding-boot style, which is timeless and goes with pretty much your entire wardrobe, Herring says. If you already have that color, go with brown or gray or even red and blue, she says.

Most of the time, buckles are for decoration, Herring says, because, especially with multiple buckles, who wants to be fastening all those clasps to get out the door?

A perfect look for this trend is a pair of Tabitha Simmons short booties, says Leslie Gallin, vice president footwear for Advanstar, which owns well-known trade shows FN Platform and Sole Commerce.

“Buckles add a twist,” says Gallin, who is based in California. “They are eye-candy and add strength to a boot. Buckles were always thought of as utilitarian, but now they are an accessory.”

For the past few seasons, hardware, in general, on footwear has taken a major lead by appearing on boots in the form of studs, zippers and mostly buckles, says Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for It's inspired from the 1980s and '90s, but is back in a fresh way, she says.

A buckle gives you a look that's edgy and cool. Buckles are seen on boots in silver, brass, gold and even rose-gold.

“This winter, the freshest buckle style is all about buckles in excess such as multiple straps with buckles that run horizontally on a boot — the more the better,” Covington says. “Grunge is back in fashion, and people are pushing their style to the limits. A boot covered in multiple buckles as opposed to just one or two is much more substantial and noticeable. This winter, it's easy to put on a fairly simple outfit and then let your feet do the talking.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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