Booting Up (Or, How To Wear Motorcycle Boots To The Office) - une femme d'un certain âge

Booting Up (Or, How To Wear Motorcycle Boots To The Office)

Over the weekend I received an e-mail from reader Ginny, who’d found a great pair of biker boots and was wondering how to style them for the workplace, taking into account a daily commute that includes public transport and some walking. 

Provided you don’t work in a very conservative environment, today’s more relaxed dress codes make boots, even more edgy styles like these, a viable option.  (Once I’ve found my perfect pair, I certainly plan to wear them to the office!)  The looks above are a starting point; here are some additional thoughts:

  • You’ll want to keep the look balanced.  The “tougher” the boots, the less refined or fussy the other pieces should be. But that doesn’t mean you should wear leather and studs head to toe;  rather, as with animal prints, we probably want to stick with one biker-esque piece at a time especially at work.  I’d opt for knits rather than strictly tailored pieces to soften and balance the overall look.  A bit of texture helps too, but it doesn’t need to be as pronounced as what I’ve shown above.
  • Keep the legwear lean and narrow.  Skinny or slim-leg jeans, jeggings (if you can tolerate them), slim ponte knit pants, leggings or opaque tights will work best. 
  • Accessories that are too dainty, traditional or structured will look out of place.  While I’m all about mixing up masculine and feminine elements, that single short strand of pearls won’t work here. (Check out yesterday’s guest post by Duchesse for some great jewelry options.) Bags should be a bit “laid back,” not too conservative, ladylike, structured or polished, and keep the detailing simple.
  • Remember to treat and waterproof your leather boots if you’ll be wearing them in wet or snowy weather. 

All of this reflects my own style aesthetic; YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) of course.  Do you wear biker or equestrian boots to work?  If so, how do you style them?

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  1. September 15, 2010 / 1:58 pm

    Good advice! I wear Blundstones (which look like short mc boots without straps or hardware) to the casual-dress office, with below the knee fuller skirts and tights, Nerdily utiliarian- those of us who wear them are devoted.

  2. Anonymous
    September 15, 2010 / 4:06 pm

    Wow, these outfits are great! I kind of wear such relaxed outfits at work with equestrian boots though… My short legs/larger calves are not looking too good in mc boots.

  3. September 15, 2010 / 4:22 pm

    Sal – and your post on leggings today was so timely!

    Duchesse – thank you! “Nerdily utilitarian” works too.

    Anonymous – yes, these would work with equestrian style boots too. Many of the eq style boots have a more polished look, and so are quite office-friendly, IMO.

  4. Sara
    September 15, 2010 / 4:41 pm

    Love this look, edgy yet respectable!
    Well done Deja!

  5. September 15, 2010 / 5:02 pm

    The outfits are great. I could, however, never have worn them to work. Motorcycle boots would have garnered enough attention to distract from work, and work was, well, too much work to bother with distraction, despite the fun. But now, well, that’s another story:). I tried on some moto boots, said no, but haven’t forgotten:).

  6. September 15, 2010 / 5:19 pm

    Miss J loves these looks but could not sport them at her conservative workplace.

  7. September 15, 2010 / 6:43 pm

    Oh, these are great combos.
    I’m wearing my brown cavalry-moto F&B boots today, brown tights, a mossy-olive dress — knit top, woven bottom, funky pockets and elasticized hemline — an old jean jacket with the sleeves rolled up, silver cuff with a chunk of amber, and a red batik-print scarf I’ve had for ages. Wouldn’t work in many workplaces but for the uni it’s just fine. Oh, and my M0851 Functional bag, business-like workhorse, chocolate brown.
    I have to admit that I let these boots get as scuffed as they want — biking and walking on muddy dirt roads makes cleaning them a constant task I haven’t time for, so I’ve decided I like that “authentic” patina 😉

    And I love Duchesse’s characterization of her Blundstones — nerdily utilitarian — and agree with her that they can offer the same flavour as mc boots.

  8. September 15, 2010 / 6:57 pm

    I’m bring out my 7 year old Donald Pliner boots and love them tights and skirts….makes me feel sexy yet feet feel good. Oh, I looked at those skinny pants at Chico’s and they are really skinny and tight! If you are a 10 or 12, they just cling so tight. Sorry.

  9. September 15, 2010 / 7:27 pm

    Would really like to see this look ON someone! Who dares? Materfamilias outfit sounded brilliant!

  10. Sal
    September 15, 2010 / 1:57 pm

    EEEEEEEEE! Oh how I adore this post, and all the dressing suggestions therein. I live for rugged boots in fall and winter, and am always looking for ways to make them more classy and office-friendly.

  11. September 15, 2010 / 9:11 pm

    I’m pulling out my 5+ year old black Cordani moto boots and trying the ponte knit skinny pants. Has anyone found a pair that doesn’t bag at the knees?

  12. Frugal Scholar
    September 15, 2010 / 5:34 pm

    I love all your choices. And I am so glad I am a teacher–I can wear anything to work. My students would love motorcycle boots. I already have the rest of the outfit.

  13. La Belette Rouge
    September 15, 2010 / 8:47 pm

    This is my favorite look for fall. I got to wear a few of these kind of looks ( leggings/boots/and knits). LOVE it. My boots are the ones I bought when I was shopping with you, you my lucky shopping charm!xo

  14. September 16, 2010 / 9:59 am

    I wear equestrian boots in winter with dresses and opaque tights. Love that look.

  15. September 16, 2010 / 2:52 pm

    This made me ponder what boots I wore in my corporate days (which ended in 2005) and I realized I still have all of them! They’ve all had a good, long run.

  16. September 16, 2010 / 6:27 pm

    Sara – thanks!

    LPC – yes, I think for some positions and some workplaces, these would be quite a distraction. Our office is a bit of an outpost, staffed by “back office” administrative types (comme moi) and production people (for whom “dressed up” means wearing Vans instead of flip-flops with their cargo shorts). So on the whole, I don’t stand out too much.

    Miss Janey – but I’ll bet you could rock them on the weekends…

    Frugal Scholar – the ones you suggested are great…more about them soon.

    materfamilias – would love to see a version of this ensemble!

    donnieb – yes to the power of boots! I’m sorry those jeans didn’t work out for you. They do stretch quite a bit with wearing though…

  17. Ginny
    September 16, 2010 / 6:48 pm

    I’m buried deep in the basement along side the servers and it gets a bit chilly when the loading dock is open so I think I can work this into my life!

    All the sweatery elements would be a plus.

    Thanks so much.

  18. September 16, 2010 / 6:58 pm

    fashionoverfifty – I’ll see what I can do, maybe next week. materfamilias, what about you?

    LBR – those were some really cool boots! Glad you got to have a little taste of autumn.

    Kathy – the Eileen Fisher ones have been good so far, no bagging. I picked up a pair of the Chico’s 5-pocket but haven’t worn them yet.

    Faux Fuschia – I love the look of equestrian boots too. So classic and chic!

    WendyB – so do tell! What styles of boots did you wear?

    Kalee – yes, those bags would work well with this look. (For the Polyvore, I focused more on “briefcase substitute” bags.) The GD bags really work either dressed up or down.

  19. September 16, 2010 / 6:59 pm

    Ginny – glad it works for you! Layers are a necessity in our office too.

  20. Kalee
    September 16, 2010 / 4:45 pm

    I also think the Gerard Darel bag would look lovely with these outfits, it’s slouchy without being too slouchy and it screams “I don’t feel the need to try too hard.” (and since you’re the one who recommended the brand to me and I’m about to purchase my 3rd bag by them….thanks!).

    As for the outfits, I will be hunting down each and every one…they’re perfect!

  21. karen
    September 17, 2010 / 3:01 am

    Ooooooh, i must say i like the equestrian idea better for workplace applications. creative posts though might make an okay sitch for the motos!

  22. September 17, 2010 / 2:53 pm

    Love each and every one of those long sweaters/cardigans. Unfortunately out of my price range but I’ll look for similar at places like Ross, Marshalls. It’s been a million years since I’ve been to one of them and I’m a bit out of practice. Been buying most of my things online…

  23. September 17, 2010 / 9:18 pm

    These are such great looks! I’ve been contemplating buying similar boots from Target, but they’re a little out of my style comfort zone. You’ve provided three more checks in the “buy them” column!

  24. September 18, 2010 / 8:11 pm

    karen – true, these are trickier than equestrian style boots.

    Special – I’m sure there are a lot of less pricey options out there. Longer, textured sweaters seem to be having a moment now, so I’m optimistic that you’ll find something that works for you.

    Marianne – give them a try, let us know how they work for you. It’s good to push that envelope once in a while.

  25. September 23, 2010 / 12:18 pm

    I am actually trying out two pair, one with heels and one flat-heeled. Both have moto look. The nice thing is that since I have short legs with larger calves, the shorter height of the boots works for me–yay! I have been despairing over desire for boots and the difficulty of finding ones that fit my height and full calves. Now to make up several outfits–and yes, my students will love them, too.

  26. lori
    October 11, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    I love my harness boots and would love to own the last pair shown here what brand are they

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