The search for winter boots

DSW Boots.jpg

So many boots. So much ugliness.

By Kaitlin Resler

Not to be a downer, but snow is coming.

Piles and piles of snow.

We're all thinking it -- tugging our winter coats out of closets and waiting for the gloves and scarves to go on sale. Then, there is the trickiest part of the winter ensemble: the winter boot.

Winter boots are heinous. Most of them are hideous, plastic looking things. So how on earth is one to survive winter with their sense of fashion in tact? There is no shortage of really adorable leather boots, with all manner of buckles or sueded details, but these aren't practical. Besides the fact that suede screams in agony every time it even thinks about salt on the ground, most of these boots have slick soles and hard heels which are really perfect for falling down.

My mission this week is to find a pair of winter boots that will service me when digging my car out of the street, parking lot (mall or campus), or driveway as well as trudging through the infernal mountains and tunnels of snow that once resembled a sidewalk. I require that they look decent with both dresses and pants, while keeping my feet dry and reasonably warm.

One of my first stops was DSW. I'm not an enormous fan of the store--I get overwhelmed easily--and I find that even though they have tons and tons and tons of shoes, I usually have a hard time finding what I want. After wandering around for a while, I grabbed a pair of boots from Totes. They vaguely resembled a riding boot, although the material was some weird version of vinyl, and the inside was lined with faux fur.

DSW Totes Boots.jpg

The black helps--they kind of blend in, albeit a bit chunkily. They're a bit hard to walk in, stiff, but the 39.99$ price tag makes them more attractive (especially if you've got one of those 10$ off coupons that I hear are floating around).

A trip to Burlington Coat Factory proved to be a bust -- not much selection and what was there --umm--no. Next I made an unusual stop for me -- Journey's in Crossgates. There is a boot on sale for 39.99$ that resembles the L.L. Bean Duck boot. They also have them upstairs at Shi (the same company).

Journeys:Shi Duck Boot.jpg

But wait-- weren't looks on my list of requirements? Yeah, but I'm kind of banking on the "so ugly they're pretty" thing. Duck boots are functional, and kind of classic in a weird sort of way (like hunter wellies--hideous and unflattering, but cool because they're iconic and they function well). I feel like I can make this work with a dress, or with some kind of pant carelessly tucked while I pretend to be rugged.

The Bean Boot is something I have a tenuous relationship with. They're kind of classic, but also really ugly: there is no way to deny this. Still it kind of works. Plus, it's a boot that can be worn by both men and women.

They're a bit easier for guys to get away with -- tossing them on with work clothes or under jeans is pretty faultless. If the price tag gets you (depending on the style, they run between 84$ and 134$), I've heard that you can bring in damaged boots ages later (seriously--years and years later) and L.L. Bean will replace them for you.

LL Bean Duck boots.jpg

Macy's is a regular shoe haunt for me. On this trip I found these Timberland boots. Okay, so they have heels. But I swear, I think these might work in snow anyway. At the very least, I think I'd be okay in slush. Again, I think ugly-pretty works here. They have a kind of edge, with all the laces and such, that I think is a nice contrast to a girly dress. On the downside, they're currently priced at 140$.

Macys Timberland boots.jpg

So what did I pick? I'm still thinking about it-- but it's time to put the suede boots on the shelf--so I'm thinking the "so ugly they're cute" duck boot is the way to go. The real challenge now is finding a way to make them work.


I'm going my traditional way- when I can't wear my street shoes I pull on a pair of 1970's Big Black Army Boots.

I've been in similar shoes over the last few weeks. My favorite boots that I've had for the last few years have finally become so worn down that I retired them. My family has been begging me to get rid of them for the last year or so and now I finally have.

I was on the hunt for new boots and I have not been able to find anything. I didn't want anything with too high a heel, a leather exterior, cloth interior, and that wouldn't break the bank.

I looked at crossgates, online, colonie center and had not found anything.

Today though by some miracle I wondered into Elissa Hallaron's on Lark Street and found not my perfect boot but very close for a good price Then there is always the bonus of supporting a local business.

good choice with the duck boots. totally functional and while ugly, they are the original winter boot. plus, if you can make an outfit work well with them, you truly know what you're doing. they add a twinge of 'which one of these things does not belong', and personally, I dig it.

ohhhh i love boots so much

I love my Hunter wellies. I wear them with dresses and skirts and still feel cute. I wish they made a warm winter version because that would be the perfect winter boot.

Unfortunately, we upstate have slim pickings when it comes to fashionable offerings, have you looked online? Zappos carries La Canaddiene (spelling?) which have tons of fashionable, waterproof winter boots.

I just want a pair of stylish riding boots and after looking everywhere in Albany and Saratoga I have resigned myself to waiting until I can swing a trip to NYC to get them.

I feel your pain. I was going through the same obnoxious boot search, but having even more trouble because I am vegetarian and didn't feel right buying new leather. After searching all of the same places as you (DSW, Macy's,, and more) I finally found a compromise and ordered the Simple TOEtally boot, on sale at for only $70. They are made of hemp, organic cotton, natural rubber, and other natural and recycled materials... plus they are super cute and extremely comfortable! However... I have to agree with the reviews of the boot – they are a little tough to get on and lace up, but well worth it. Here's a link if anyone is interested...

I can also recommend eBay. Depending on what you're looking for, you can find some great deals on new and vintage. I've decided to go there for my impractical boots so I'm at least not spending as much...

Good luck!

CutesyGirl has good prices.

I don't have Hunter wellies, but I used to work at J.Crew and they have fantastic wellies ( for a much cheaper price). Thick rubber ( more than any wellie you may buy at Target) makes them isolated and the patterns and colors are always nice - what the best part of wellies are the fact that with some thick socks you have a boot that covers your foot up to almost your knee and wont get any slush or snow inside. I wear them over my stockings on my way to work in the winter and then remove once I get there saving my stockings and any other shoe that I may wear.

On Wellies: I have several pairs (mom's hunters that I borrow, a pair from Nine West, and a J. Crew pair) and despite 3 pairs of wool socks, I find they are not ideal for snow. The rubber get so, so cold--even when they're lined (which does help. Hunter has liners you can buy for your boots so you can take them out when it gets hot and rainy, but for extra protection in the cold weather). It's good for walking back and forth to the car, but for digging things out or navigating long-walks, I find my toes freeze.

So many suggestions! I always forget to check online--I do like to try on!

I second Jennifer's recommendation of La Canadienne boots - they look good and they have serious soles. Best thing to do is to plan a weekend in Montreal or Ottawa... I recommend Letellier Shoes at 146 Rideau Street in Ottawa. Really, its a great excuse to go, you know you want to.

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