I’m certainly not averse to a wildly impractical shoe (the jam-packed but incredibly neglected shelves toward the back of my closet can attest to that), but when it comes to boots, I really do prefer a pair that’s made for walking. Especially when that style is also chic enough for a night out dancing, can hang with my 9-to-5 looks during the workweek, and is sturdy enough for everything fall’s unpredictable weather might throw my way.
In an effort to pin down the very best functional yet fashionable boot styles as the new season approaches, I turned to Sreya Halder, a Bay Area–based Stanford student whose inventive work sits at the intersection of art and technology—and whose very cool, very California ’fits have earned her a TikTok following of 409k and counting. The three versatile looks she created are all anchored by her favorite fall-ready boots by Sorel, and they certainly don’t disappoint. So read on, and prepare your shopping carts.
“I wanted to go for a more elevated look with these boots,” she says of this effortless power-suiting moment. “Thanks to their slight heel, I knew they’d work well with wide-leg trousers. I also wanted to stick to a minimalistic, neutral color scheme, so I picked two shades of brown and added a staple black purse that goes with anything. Definitely a going-out look!”
Her Sorel boot of choice proves that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. “I really value practicality in a shoe, especially when I have to walk everywhere in a big city,” she explains. “I want to make sure I can last several hours in them without complaining that my feet hurt.”
Next up, she’s taking things a bit more casual. Enter: the perfect off-duty look for fall. “This tan color goes so well with denim,” she says of Sorel’s Hi-Line Lace style. “I really wanted to center the look around the texture and sturdiness of these boots. And denim-on-denim is a classic. I didn’t want to add too many additional textures or colors, so I figured an interesting, black corset top would add just the right amount of detail. This is a really simple, casual look for a weekend outing.”
As any Californian can attest, fall dressing on the West Coast doesn’t require piling on too many layers—although it doesn’t hurt to keep a nice long-sleeved top around for chillier evenings. “Fall is the best time of year in the Bay,” Halder says. “Lots of sunshine and perfect weather for wearing almost anything.”
Exhibit A: this perfectly laid-back look that starts with her favorite Chelsea boots. “I really love the flare on these faux-leather pants and the way they work with the boots to really elongate my legs,” she says of this laid-back, layered look. “I’m also really into the pop of color here. Blue and black is one of my favorite color combinations!”