Winter, the season animals pack weight to hibernate, and human females pack extra shoes, gloves, hats and scarves into their tote bags to trek to the office in offensively cold temperatures (unless you live in Los Angeles, in which case, you may be warm, but you’re probably stuck in traffic as you read this, right?)
Ugly boots are the ones you pull on when there’s snow past your ankles, the ones you shuffle in wearing through your office lobby in the hopes no one notices (can you do the elevator stealth shoe change? Depends on what floor you’re on). But then, there’s these options. They’ll keep your feet toasty and dry, and most importantly, they won’t make you duck behind the nearest potted plant to swap out before your boss sees.
1. EMU Australia Pioneer Boots
Pioneer Boots via EMU Australia, $132.97
Wool and sheepskin, but waterproof. It sounds unlikely, but EMU Australia has done it in the form of a sleek Chelsea boot. Think of these as grown-up UGGS, just without the muck-brown color, lack of shape and atrocious reputation. EMU embraces natural materials used by locally-sourced craftsmanship, but if that’s not enough of a feel-good motto, there’s also free shipping on all orders. Also, if you haven’t heard of Woolmark yet, you’re missing out (it’s used in the Pioneer boot).
2. Sorel Addington Boots
Addington Boots via Sorel, $210
Are you one of those people who can wear heels on a daily basis? If so, we have nothing in common. That said, if I were one of those people, I’d pick the Sorel Addington boot. It comes in a few neutral colors, and does the industrial-dressy intersection shockingly well. This is the kind of boot that gets photographed on models who hang around in warehouses while wearing leather pants and bomber jackets. You probably won’t wear it with those things, but wearing them will help you get into that sort of character a little better. Also, the rubber grips on the heel are no joke—you’re in good hands (feet?) with this pair.
3. Cole Haan Newburg Boots
Newburg Boots via Cole Haan, $179.95
Chelsea boots are universally flattering, easy to pull on and hard to buy, because there are so many identical looking pairs on the market. Cole Haan’s Newburg Chelsea boots decidedly don’t look like winter-only boots, which is why they’re so perfect—nothing’s stopping you from going ahead and wearing these in September, when there’s no snow to speak of. Also, these look incredibly similar to Frye’s bespoke Chelsea boots, but cost about half the price right now.
4. Timberland Banfield Boots
Banfield Boots via Timberland, $239.99
Timberland’s been on an unexpected comeback for a while. All of a sudden, hip young kids are wearing them in their Instagram photos. Have any of these youngsters ever worked on a construction site? Are they were their lace-ups to do anything more than shuffle from their high school parking lot to class? Unclear. Regardless, the Banfield boots are great for people who never wanted the riding boot trend to end, and the outer mesh panel makes them easy to tear off once you’ve entered a space that’s warmer than 35 degrees. Again, another option that’s waterproof but still easy enough to pass off as a fall staple. Double duty like this is absolutely worth the price tag.
5. The North Face Bridgeton Boots
Bridgeton Boots via The North Face, $149.95
Was the Sorel Addington boot scary for you? Same. Wedge boots are your friend. This North Face option has beautiful waterproof leather that’s brushed to look like suede (if you’ve ever sacrificed a pair of suede boots to the elements, you’ll find this comforting). The real magic with this pair is the OrthoLite footbed, which is specially designed with gel padding to give you extra cushioning for long treks from the train to the office (or to drinks, because you’ve been talked into going despite an impending blizzard. At least you look great).