“Distressing” is a trend that, overall, makes me feel a bit cranky. Ripped-up jeans have been a stylish on and off for decades but, generally speaking, it was expected that the owner would handle the ripping, washing, and crafting of the various holes and associated fringe. The very idea that premium denim manufacturers believe they can and should charge $200+ for “distressed” or “destroyed” jeans – jeans with pre-made holes, rips, and fringe – blows my mind. “Distressed” tees, jackets, and other clothing also sell for bizarrely high prices and the whole thing just seems like a racket to me.
BUT. I feel quite differently about distressed boots.
In my opinion, hardly a thing in the world broadcasts power and confidence like a gorgeous pair of boots. And, for years, I stuck to sleek, shiny, supple leather boots that worked beautifully with my wardrobe. But in recent years, I’ve realized that distressed boots – be they real or faux leather – are fantastic tools for making it through a sloppy, slushy, cold, oppressive winter in style. Here’s why:
- You can get them wet: I’m in favor of weatherproofing all footwear, and doing so will help in many cases. But the fact is that some shoes and boots WILL get damaged if they suck up too much moisture, no matter how conscientious you’ve been with the spray treatments. Distressed boots – especially those with substantial soles – can take some rain, snow, and slush without looking ruined. You should still get them clean and dry once you’re indoors, but for transitional winter trompings, they’re a great choice.
- You can get them dirty: Heck, they already look kinda dirty right out of the box! So what if you sink your heel into an unexpected mud puddle? So what if a passing car throws some road water on your calves? (OK, not really “so what.” That would just suck. But it wouldn’t destroy distressed boots the way it might other footwear.) Bring on the grime and grit of winter, distressed boots can take it.
- You don’t have to worry about nicking/scuffing/hurting them: Sleek, shiny, supple boots are delightful little critters. But, in my case, they stay sleek, shiny, and supple for about 4 seconds before I trip over an invisible obstacle, scrape them against my chair, or spill my soda on them. Soda is no balm for distressed boots, but at least a drop or two on the boot shaft won’t cause the wearer to have a heart attack.
As I’ve said many times, I advocate wearing waterproof boots outside, carrying your indoor shoes in a tote bag, and changing into them upon arrival, especially for office/academic/indoor workers. Even distressed boots will get ruined if they’re treated as actual snow boots in actual snow, slush, sleet, and general winter nastiness. If you commute to work, you can extend the life of your shoes by carrying them along for winter commutes and slipping them on upon arrival at your destination.
Another important note: I don’t wear my distressed fashion boots if I’m going to be hiking in the wintry woods, if actual precipitation is happening at the moment, or if there is unplowed snow. I can’t speak for other snow-intensive areas, but here in MN the streets get plowed relatively quickly and residents shovel their sidewalks right away. On days when plowing and shoveling is yet to happen or still in progress, I stick to my snow boots. But once it’s dealt with and walking areas are relatively snow-free, I feel comfortable doing distressed instead. Again, they are no substitute for a great pair of snow boots. But once the snow is mostly plowed and the sidewalks mostly clear, I haul ’em out.
My smooth leather boots still get plenty of wear on days when I’ll be keeping myself indoors. My small but mighty collection of distressed boots, on the other hand, is my secret weapon for staying stylish through the long, brutal Minnesota winter.
Image courtesy 6pm
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