Style Trial | Bare ankles in winter

If you read a lot of fashion blogs, you’re probably familiar with a look we’ve come to think of as “Big Coat/Bare Feet”, and which you probably know simply as “bare ankles in winter”. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an outfit in which the wearer is wrapped up warmly, in a thick winter coat and scarf… but whose bare feet are totally exposed to the elements in a pair of stiletto pumps:

bare ankles in winter

All looks: Net-a-Porter

This is the kind of fashion “thing” that seems to be just begging for us to make the observation that if it’s cold enough for a thick coat and woolly scarf, then surely – SURELY – it’s too cold for bare ankles in winter?

Actually, though, we’re going to have to confess here that we kinda, sorta understand why people do this: and we’re not unsympathetic to their reasons, either. The fact is, we like shoes more than we like boots. We just do. Furthermore, some outfits look BETTER with shoes than they do with boots, and all too often, the shoes they look best with are the type that don’t really work with tights or socks, and which require bare feet for the full effect. What’s a shoe-loving girl to do when she wants to break out her favourite pumps at the start of December? It seems a shame to have to ruin a good outfit just because you can’t bare your ankles in winter, which is why we’re increasingly seeing women wandering around all winter on top, summer on the bottom. (Or spring, at the very least.)

We can understand the logic of this too, to be honest. People have different tolerance levels for cold, after all, and some people find that as long as their torsos are well-wrapped, they can tolerate bare ankles in winter, as long as it’s not actually freezing, and they’re not planning to be out in it for too long.  No one looks twice at someone who isn’t wearing gloves on a cold day, so why should it be so odd to see someone who isn’t wearing socks/tights?

Because the fact is, it IS odd. When we see fashion blogger photos in which there’s snow on the ground, but the blogger is baring their feet and ankles to the elements in a pair of pumps, the bare ankles are the first things we notice, and they distract us from thinking too much about the rest of the outfit. How do they do it, we wonder? And, of course, it could simply be the case that they weren’t outdoors for long enough to feel the cold: just because a person is photographed outdoors, it doesn’t necessarily mean they spent the entire day outdoors – or even a significant part of it. We’re also not big fans of judging other people’s comfort levels: you just can’t tell from a photo how hot or cold someone was feeling at the time, and it’s never fun to have someone insist that you “must have been FREEZING!” and then treat you like an idiot because of it, when, in fact, you were perfectly comfortable, thanks very much.

All of this said, however, we just can’t do it. No matter how much we want to wear those fabulous shoes with those cropped trousers, or how much we tell ourselves that we’re only going to be outdoors for a short period of time, and our precious exposed ankles will cope just fine, somehow we can’t bring ourselves to do the “bare ankles in winter” thing. It just feels weird and wrong, and… cold. Big surprise.

What about you? Do you do bare ankles in winter, or do you refuse to fight the weather, and stick to more sensible socks and boots instead?

What do you think of bare ankles in winter?


  • December 2, 2013


    Eh, I just can’t do it. I love shoes, but cold feet drive me insane. I become a cranky mccrankster. So If I do choose to wear something like Mary Janes, I wear fleece lined tights and a skirt.

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  • December 2, 2013


    In the early 90s, I lived in Minnesota, where the local uber-menschen sported sweatshirts, shorts, and loafers without socks all winter, and no hats of course, as that would smoosh the big hair. I grew up in Chicago and I am not a winter-wimp, but those kids scared me.

    This look bothers me not so much for the cold ankles, as the idea of wearing ankle-breaking shoes in slippery, icy weather. But since I cannot wear heels at any time, it isn’t really my concern.

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  • December 3, 2013


    For me it’s mostly about the context. If there’s snow on the ground there’s really no excuse to be wearing flats or pumps, even if you’ll be inside most of the day. It’s just not as safe on slippery pavement. Just change when you’re inside!

    I walk to all of my classes, so it’s gotta be pretty nice out for me to wear flats or heels during the winter. But if it’s a nice day I also don’t see a reason to wear boots or sneakers just because the calendar says February or March.

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  • December 3, 2013


    My feet would turn purple, with a net of prussian-blue capillaries. I would look like a fashion victim, or rather, my bladder would turn out to be the fashion victim… and why would these outfits above *not* work with some nice 60 den microfibre tights? Choosing the right colour is a bit tricky, but doable.

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  • December 4, 2013


    What confuses me more is peep toed booties. You need boots but your toes are just out there? (yes I know, this site already considers them a fashion crime but they are still out there)

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  • December 5, 2013


    Agree with everything you said! I go without tights or socks as long as I possibly can and take them off as early as possible after the winter. However, I live in Southern Germany and we have snow – besides the cold I would completely ruin my shoes. Usually I take a pair of shoes to the office and change. For outfit posts I wear “realistic” footwear 😉

    Annette | Lady of Style

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