At the heart of most fashion is a sense of balance, whether it be through layering a variety of textures, equilibrating the lightness and darkness of color, or establishing a medium between patterns and solids. In the larger context of menswear for the coming chillier season, we find that the purpose of men’s boots fall into the third category. Patterns and prints are currently taking the world of men’s apparel by storm with no apparent end in sight. Boots, which will remain far less gaudy over the coming winter, can serve as a cornerstone to any outfit. They will quite literally be the foundation from which one can build upward, the canvas upon which a masterpiece is painted. Men’s boots: materials As you begin considering your seasonal footwear investment, your thoughts should immediately turn toward the principal materials of the season. This autumn/winter, there are two clear frontrunners: leather and suede. Fairly unsurprising, these two fabrics hold true to the purpose of boots for late 2012 as outlined above. The material is not intended to make too bold of a statement but rather provide a classic stability to an otherwise explosive outfit. For creating an even more cohesive look, consider matching leather boots with a corresponding leather jacket with Versace as an apt example, and make sure to take note of the boots’ structural effect in the extravagantly patterned ensemble by Roberto Cavalli. Men’s leather boots at Versace and Cavalli, F/W ’12 ￼￼ Men’s boots: colours The staple shades for boots in the upcoming season should not be much of a surprise either. Black dominates with his brothers in neutrals, grey and brown, following behind (and by “following behind,” we really mean “are left in the dust.”). For a chromatic exclamation, shades of red and blue in suede can bring a luxe cool without much thought required. If you do choose to stray beyond neutrals, make sure to contain the exploration to suede only, as vibrant leather is largely a no-go for late 2012. Desert boot / chukka influence Chukka boots also continue to rise through the ranks of fashion as they make their presence known on both the street and the catwalk. Perhaps more importantly, we are seeing the characteristic chunky, rubber sole of the chukka penetrate the world of non-chukkas, like it did Vivienne Westwood’s autumn / winter men’s collection. It seems the destiny of this style to take off from the backwoods hiking trails and instead traverse the pavement of chic, concrete jungles. At Vivienne Westwood, F/W ’12 ￼ Boots: dress to impress If there is one constant lesson from the dominant fashion houses when it comes to the future of boots, it would be that our high-rising footwear is not to be confined to simply bootcut denim, but should rather be considered a piece of formalwear. Specifically, the look Giorgio Armani pursued of combining relaxed fit (particularly drop crotch) slacks is very timely. Tuck those pant legs in, and make the daily commute to the workplace, because boots are being released from the shackles of the casual wardrobe. Men’s boots at Giorgio Armani, F/W ’12 ￼￼ Looking ahead As a fashioniser, we must also keep a keen eye on the horizon, even as we deal with the present; warmer temperatures will certainly bring slight changes to boots. While the autumnal height (from mid-calf to short chukka counterparts) will remain very applicable and relevant to spring, expect the cut-aways that we have seen impact women’s runways to influence menswear, similar to Versace’s spring 2013 men’s catwalk with their boot-sandal hybrids complete with gladiatorial flair.