What to Wear With Combat Boots (for Women)

Rock those combat boots!

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

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

If so, you're missing out on your next style staple. Combat boots are extremely versatile. And, it's actually that same bold, casual nature that makes them flexible enough for combos you might not expect.

Jeans: The Not So Obvious Choice

At first glance, the pairing of jeans and combat boots is so natural that it hardly bears mentioning again. No discussion of this classic look is complete, however, without considering the style of jeans you choose. It 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. Your legs will look thinner, but you'll need to balance things out on top to prevent your feet from looking oversized. A long, loose top, bulky sweater or flowy tunic will accomplish this nicely.

As for whether or not to tuck skinny jeans into combat boots, 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. Let's face it, though: We're talking about jeans and combat boots here. Anytime you pair those two items together, you should be thinking "casual."

Boot-cut and flared jeans take this option out of the running. They're tough to tuck in without looking messy, so leave them on the outside. Again, use the width of your hem and the bulk of the boots to determine which cut of shirt to wear. Loose and baggy jeans, such as cargo pants and boyfriend jeans, offer still more options. Wear them long and on the outside, or cuff 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 Feminine Contrast to Combat Boots

Part of the funky style appeal of combat boots is that they're extremely masculine. One way to balance that effect is to pair them with a very feminine-looking bottom, such as a maxi skirt or dress. Generally, looser, fuller skirts work better with combat boots than sleek, fitted ones, but there are no rules here.

Just as with jeans and pants, though, pay attention to balance. 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 loose item on top.

Shorts, Short Skirts, and Dresses

If you're fortunate enough to have styled your way 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. Of course, the tights are optional; you can go with bare legs.

Opaque and patterned tights do have more than just nostalgia going for them, though. They help bridge the gap between your short skirt or dress and your relatively short boots. This bridge makes for a cohesive, streamlined look—and, it counters the unflattering calf-thickening effect of short boots.

Those same principles apply to wearing shorts with combat boots: Tights tie the casual look together. Bare legs are less flattering for most, but naturally, they're still an option.

The Great Equalizer: An Ultra-Feminine Dress

Feminine maxi skirts and dresses give off vibes that range from boho earth mother to hippie chic. If you want a look that's a bit edgier and more modern, try pairing your favorite combat boots with a really frilly, ultra-feminine outfit. We're talking full-on glamor here: cocktail dresses, feathery skirts, sequined tank dresses, and slim, sheer tunics. To make a combination like this work, include these three items:

  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. Go for sleek and modelesque on the top, and volume on the bottom. That volume, however, should come from textured embellishments, not from the dress itself.
  3. The confident attitude to pull it off: You're going to get attention, and not all of it is going to be positive. Why should you care, though? Rock that killer dress and those kick-ass combat boots with the attitude to match. 

Get Creative

The versatility of combat boots knows no bounds, really. Prom dresses and sweatpants are off the table, to be sure, but not much else. Just remember that, no matter what you wear with them, combat boots make a strong statement. And, after all, that's what fashion at its best is all about: artistically expressing yourself. So try out different combinations (always with top-bottom balance in mind), and wear what makes you feel good.

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