Motorcycle boots arrive for winter

There's something liberating about motorcycle boots -- that connection with hitting the open road and the sense of rebelliousness that comes with pairing some clunky boots with a soft, floaty dress. They can make you feel strong, tough and, especially this winter, stylish.

"It is the perfect cross between edgy and chic, which is definitely why it seems to be the chosen boot this season," says footwear designer Matt Bernson. "It just works for everyone." Bernson made a pair for fall/winter that was modeled on a Brazilian roper boot. But some gold D rings at the ankle and studs at the shin transformed the style into a motorcycle boot, and it's been one of his most successful new shoes.

Several brands have reinvented the traditional calf-high boot with a rubber lug sole and a buckle strapped across the ankle, bringing down the bulk, distressing the leather and even adding a high heel. Tory Burch makes a knee-length black leather moto boot with shiny gold buckles on the calf and gold plating on one side of the stacked heel ($695). It's Mad Max meets Madison Avenue, and even with all the hardware, the boot is still sophisticated.

Rocket Dog's "Chain Gang" ($69.95), Joie's "Miles Away" ($262.50) and Faryl Robin's "Lucky" ($299) all up the style ante by adding multiple straps and buckles that encircle the shaft of the boot. The buckles create a slouch in the leather and make for a look that's more rugged rock 'n' roll than hard-core Harley rider.

For a more subtle take on the trend, Fiorentini and Baker makes the "Eli" ($485), an ankle-length boot with just one strap across the top and a discreet, matte brass buckle. And the "Mimas" boot from Coclico ($490.95) also shows a softer side with a rounded toe and simple strap and buckle across the top of the ankle. Both brands leave out the shin straps, buckles and shiny hardware, making them more classic styles that can be worn from winter to winter. And if all this makes you long for the original, the Harley-Davidson "Hustin," with a lug sole and a harness circling the ankle, is $136.

The late arrival of cool weather means that boot season lands at the same time most fall/winter styles are on sale, so it's a good time to find boots that ride a trend this year but also can be pulled out again and again because they're functional, sturdy and versatile. And if you happen to receive a motorcycle next Christmas, you'll already have the shoes.