What to Wear with Combat Boots for Women

Elena Perminova, wearing a dress and combat boots, attends the Elie Saab show during Paris Fashion Week.
Marc Piasecki / WireImage / Getty Images

Combat boots are substantial.

They're big, they're bulky, they're bold. They make a strong impression -- one that is decidedly casual at that. Consequently, you might think that combat boots are really best left for jeans.

But, I've got news for you: combat boots are extremely versatile. And, it's actually that same bold and casual nature that makes them so flexible.

Below, I've listed a few of the best outfits you can wear with combat boots.

Jeans : The Not-So Obvious Choice

As I stated above, the combination of jeans and combat boots is so natural, I nearly didn't even mention it again. But, then I thought better of it, because the style of jeans you choose has everything to do with how your finished outfit is going to look.

For example, if you wear skinny jeans with combat boots, the effect is going to be much the same as wearing leggings with those same boots. This pairing is going to make your legs look thinner and put all the focus on your seemingly over-sized feet. Consequently, you'll need to balance things out a bit on the top. You can do so by adding a long, loose top, sweater or tunic to the mix.

As for whether or not to tuck skinny jeans in, you can go either way. Letting the hem of your jeans gather around the top of your boots is definitely the more casual of the two options. But let's face it, we are talking about jeans and combat boots here -- any time you pair those two items together, you should be thinking "casual."

When it comes to boot-cut and flared jeans, you won't be faced with any such decision.

They aren't the best "tucking in" options in the world, anyway. Leave them on the outside, and again, use the width of your hem and the bulk of the boots to determine which cut of shirt to wear.

Then there's loose and baggy jeans. Cargo pants, boyfriend jeans and the like. You can choose between wearing them long and on the outside, or cuffing them.

Both looks are cool and modern, and the cuffed jeans/combat boot combo looks great with a long, button-down shirt.

Maxi Skirts : The Antidote of Combat Boots

There's no way around the fact that combat boots are extremely masculine. One way of countering that effect is by pairing them with an outfit that's really feminine, like a maxi skirt or dress.

I prefer looser, fuller skirts for this combination, but there's no law that says you can't pair combat boots with form-fitting long skirts as well. In fact, I've seen it done quite successfully -- but just as with jeans and pants, there's going to be that balance issue. You'll have to either embrace the idea of your feet looking clownishly-big and run with it like the models do, or balance the outfit with oversized accessories or a looser item on top.

Shorts, Short Skirts and Dresses

If you were fortunate enough to have lived through the 90s grunge era, then you already know what this look is all about. Grab a short skirt, throw on a pair (or two) of tights, and lace up those combat boots. I think Rayanne and Angela said that Tino was going to be at Jordan's gig tonight.

Of course, you don't have to do the tights thing, you could go with bare legs.

But opaque and patterned tights do have more than just nostalgia going for them. They help bridge the gap between your short skirt or dress and your relatively short boots. This bridge helps make a more cohesive, streamline look -- and, it counters the unflattering calf-thickening effect of shorter boots.

Those same principles can be applied to wearing shorts with combat boots: tights will tie the casual look together. Bare legs are going to be less flattering for most, but naturally, are still an option.

The Great Equalizer : An Ultra-Feminine Dress

Earlier I mentioned using feminine maxi skirts and dresses to circumvent the masculinity of combat boots. That combination gives off vibes that range from boho earth mother, to hippie chic.

But, if you want a look that's a bit more modern, a tad bit edgier, and a lot more divisive, try pairing your favorite combat boots with a really frilly, ultra-feminine outfit.

I'm talking cocktail dresses with feathery skirts, sequined tank dresses, slim and sheer tunics. The whole nine yards.

To make a combination like this work, I believe you need three things.

  1. Simple, elegant, fashion hosiery. Again, this is to bridge that gap between dress and boots.
     
  2. The right kind of dress. You want feminine, but in an artsy sort of way. Think runway instead of prom queen, and you'll be off to a good start. You want sleek and modelesque on the top, and volume on the bottom. But, that volume should come from textured embellishments, not from the dress itself.
     
  3. The confidence and the attitude to pull it off. You're going to get attention, and not all of it is going to be positive. But then, what do you care? You've got a killer dress, and a pair of kick-ass combat boots.

So, as you can see, combat boots are much more versatile than you might have initially thought. In fact, aside from prom dresses and sweat pants, I can't think of too many things you couldn't wear with them.

Again, combat boots make a strong statement. I think that's a good thing, but you also have to realize that -- except for the safest of choices, like jeans -- nearly anything you pair with them is going to come under scrutiny. But then, at it's best, that's kind of what fashion is all about... artistically expressing yourself. Making yourself feel good. Having a bit of fun.

To quote the late Diana Vreeland, because at some point everyone should quote Diana Vreeland,

"Too much good taste can be boring."