For some, addiction comes in the form of narcotics or nicotine. For others it's sugar or gambling. For me it's ankle-boots and the struggle is very real.
I can trace this obsession back to a very specific point in time - it was my tenth birthday and I had £15 burning a hole in my pocket; the Argos catalogue was pretty much my oyster.
However, on this occasion Barbie and her ilk were passed over, even a Mr Frosty machine which I'd wanted for aeons, was put on ice. Instead, I decided that the readies were going to be spent on my first pair of ankle-boots.
I remember these gateway boots perfectly; white canvas with a miniscule Cuban heel. Concerned that they weren't quite 1980s enough, I teamed them with high-waisted trousers, a neon 'Frankie Says' T-shirt and waltzed off to the school disco. Suddenly, I understood the that the right pair of ankle-boots could be transformative, something I hold dear to this day.
Fast-forward 30 years and I am now a functioning addict. In fact, I've worn little else for the past 10 years. Even my trainers have to be hi-tops and my collection spans the Pantone spectrum.
However, given my obsession with these little booties, you might expect my collection to be extensive. At last count, I have thirteen pairs, not an inconsequential number, but fairly paltry compared to most shoe obsessives.
This is because I am tremendously discerning where the demi-boot is concerned. I buy tons of pairs online, but most are returned to sender. I peruse the shoe department of Selfridges with military precision, but generally come home empty-handed. For not all ankle-boots are created equal and designer versions aren't necessarily superior to their high-street cousins.
The ideal boot should elongate the leg and slim the ankle. The vast majority do the exact opposite. I've lost count of the times I've fallen for what looks like the perfect specimen, only to try them on and see Wee Jimmy Krankie's pins staring back at me.
Clever cobblers know that the front of the boot should always be cut slightly lower than the back, to avoid the dreaded cankle. Crucially, the boot should never cling; looser is always better, to give the illusion of a finely-turned cheville.
When I do find a pair to add to my collection, the joy is palpable. They really are the holy-grail of footwear, in that they go with EVERYTHING and make every item in your wardrobe look 100% cooler. Wear a pair of vertiginous heels with a mini-skirt and you can look a bit like a Russian oligarch's side-chick. Wear them with a pair of mid-heel ankle-biters however, and suddenly you're Ali MacGraw.
They can be demure or sexy, masculine or feminine, casual or dressy, but the effect is always the same. They will always look younger (but not in a muttony way) and fresher than pretty much any other footwear choice. Crucially, you can wear them all year round; nothing looks better than a tan pair with bare legs, yet they look just as good in winter with tights or denim.
Here I give my highly considered opinion on the best ones out there:
Zara- The Spanish retailer is a consistently good purveyor of the ankle boot and I have bought a few pairs here over the years. My only advice would be to try before you buy. I've found that Zara footwear is either wear-every-day comfortable or eye-wateringly painful.
ASOS - Its collection of ankle-boots (like its collection of most wardrobe items), is extensive and pretty good. Early Riser, is a particularly good buy at the moment (from just £14). I have these in both the black and olive green versions and with their almond toe and concealed zip, they look and feel far chicer than the price-tag would suggest.
Hudson - This mid-priced brand always gets it spot-on and they are extremely comfortable. I've got a Western-style pair which are eight years old and still going strong.
Chloé/See by Chloe The Susanna is one of the most widely-copied booties out there and it's not hard to see why. This little gem is pure rock-chic, and so it should be for the accompanying price-tag. One of my all-time favourite purchases, was a pair by See (its diffusion line). A cherry-red, leather brogue, with a wooden stacked heel. These make me ridiculously happy every time I slip them on.
Laurence Dacade - A relative new-comer to the scene, this woman really knows what she's doing. The Gatsby illustrates just how sexy a low heel and masculine style can be. If Gatsby were a person, it would probably be Jim Morrison circa 1968. Smoking.
Azzedine Alaïa - Beloved of Kate, Naomi et al, Alaïa really is the Daddy of the stiletto boot. His angel-winged version is a little piece of footwear heaven. I have dreamt of owning these for a very long time, but baulk at the idea of paying more for a pair of boots than I did for my first car.
Acne Studios - This super-cool Swedish brand produces some absolute blinders. I have been very fortunate to live near an independent retailer, who tried for years to get the good people of Essex to buy into the brand. They didn't, because Essex folk aren't big on minimal style. As a result, the shop always had a few size-3 beauts that they just couldn't get rid of. Acne at 75% off - that's when you know the shoe gods are smiling at you.
Anyway I'll have to leave it here, a courier has just arrived with a pair from Terry de Havilland, the 'rock-n-roll' cobbler. Black suede, with a Bowie-esque lightening bolt zig-zagging across the front and a metallic kitten-heel. Providing they give me the legs of Taylor Swift and make me look like a far better version of myself, they might just be keepers. Now that's not too much to ask of your footwear is it?Suggest a correction