Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the search for the perfect boots

sadly, this i've been on this search for almost 2 months already. 2 months of rain, ice, snow, and general coldness. 2 months that i could have been donning my perfect pair of boots. that is assuming that the perfect pair exists, which now the doubt weighs heavy on me like a pair of steel-toed, lug soles.

it all started with this pair of camper boots. they had everything i wanted in a boot. not trendy, but classic, something that reminded me of a boot someone would have worn a hundred years ago. a capable pair of boots, ready to work, to walk the fields, gather firewood, and to carry buckets of...i don't know, something. ready to age gracefully. a boot that could be worn with tights and a skirt or a wool dress or with skinny jeans stuffed into them. just enough traction. quality materials. a dark brown that could be paired with black or any of color i threw at it. tall enought to hit at the point where the calf starts to thin before the knee. these boots had it all! they were inspired by the mexican industrial revolution and are called "1910 Mexico." these boots spoke to me. there was just one hitch. the calf circumference was 14" and i need 15". you can expect to stretch a boot calf 1" at the most BUT if it didn't work, then i would be out $275. the risk seemed too high. so i searched on, assuming there must be something out there that met my criteria.

next i came to these. i had some doubts. like "do i really like the laces...?" and "don't only ganstas wear timberlands....?" but after scrolling over the multiple views a few hundrend times, i decided they did look very rugged yet feminine, the laces would make them very adjustable and might be pretty darling with my whole tights and skirt look i had been visualizing. the price was only $145. i should have been suspicious right then. when they arrived the week before christmas (these wre actually intended to be my solstice gift from B), i mused at the lightness of the package yet tore the box open in anticipation. they the materials now up close were flimsy, not the supple, durable leather i had imagined. i could see some glue in the construction. and the zipper...plastic. such a bust. zappos is so good about free shipping both ways, so off they went. now what? i asked myself

i am not exaggerating when i tell you that hours were spent looking at boots. i believe i have seen every boot available on zappos, j crew, the sundance catalog (thanks to a tip from my stylish friend rebekah!), boden, and frye at least 10 times....

ah, frye. this is a company that makes a boot to last. a boot i could trust! yet, it was not that simple. the biggest problem with the frye boots are the soles. they are slick, like a cowboy boots and i must have traction in this climate--i can't be slippin' and slidin' all over the place.

these are my absolute favorites...the tops are a sexy equestrian style, but look at the wimpy sole. rejecting this sole narrowed it down a lot, yet they do have a few selections with a decent rubber tread.

one was called the millie. great color, adorable pull-on styling...but the shaft was short, would hit right at the thickest part of my calf which is extremely unflattering. trust me. only gals with long skinny legs can and should wear boots that stop at the fattest part of the calf. shall we move on?

this left me with the new veronica slouch. very popular new boot, very. probably the most coveted frye boot this season. i envisioned this boot on my foot many, many times. i even placed it in my basket just to see how it felt. what was holding me back?....well, the buckle at the bottom. too tough, too motorcyle for me. and what about this so-called "slouch"? i don't mind a soft wrinkle but will they drown my ankles? AND they're $330. my budget was around $250 which especially now is a LOT OF MONEY. i am not saying that a good boot isn't worth that, in fact, as we learned before, a boot is priced accordingly and anything decent that will have that looks-better-after-some-wear quality should cost anywhere between $200 to $400. but to go over budget by that much for a look that i don't LOVE....i had to step back and assess.

one of the main problems i was having was that there were some boots that i liked a lot, and fit the traction, color, circumference, and quality standards were met...but they were lined in sheepskin. that is great and all during the cold months, at least half the year, but it seemed a shame to invest in these boots and not have them be year-round, like the Campers. oh, Campers, damn you!! like this ugg boot, so simple, sturdy...but i had big doubts about the sheepskin.

the site i mentioned before, sundance, had some boots that were also very tempting--crinkled leather, rugged sole, a optional turn-down-or-up cuff. the best look by far but also had the sheepskin conundrum. and the price was over $300. but ooooh, made in italy. italians and boots go together like....oh, shoot, something that goes together well. they were also off the list....unless....what was this? on my tenth visit to the site, suddenly the boots are over half off!! my mind begins to spin and calculate.....if they are only $140 (down from $338) then it might be worth it to have them only be cold weather boots, and i can just deal with a warmer-weather boot when the times comes, maybe find something on consignment...then i remembered that when i returned my zappos boots, i opted for store credit (so that i could get free overnight shipping, see...) and now my funds were all tied up there, and yes, i could call them and change it, but i would still have to wait a few days for the bank to process it and by then would they even have my size left.....are you still following me? life should not be this complicated!

i resigned myself back to finding a pair on zappos. meanwhile, life is rolling on, the holidays pass, the snowdrifts melt, the rain comes and floods, and subsides, then threatens to flood again. i lay in bed with visions of boots marching by, some for their beauty, others for their functionality, never quite attaining a perfect blend of both. except for the Campers--the perfect boots with the not-perfect measurements. i finally began pouring my woes to blake, even though i knew it would all be way over his head. his look of bewilderment confirmed this, but i pleaded with him to focus and hear me out. "i need your help making a decision." and as a man who is also picky about his shoes, he listened. once i had it all out, i proposed the risk--how about i just get the Campers and have them stretched and hope for the best? we calculated this together and thought that yes, it was possible, if the zipper is metal it should be able to handle the stress. he had my back.

i ran downstairs, happy to have just made the call, consequences be damned, one cannot live in this boot-shopping purgatory forever!! i found my "favorites" tab, loaded my cart and hit the check out button.

we're sorry these are not available in that size and color combination. but here are some other options....

i don't want black. i can't wear a 36, i need a 37. fucker. give me my goddamn boots.

i quickly moved through the disappointment, and decided that it was important to just make something happen. i quickly navigated to my second choice--the ugg broome, sheepskin be damned, i'd cross that bridge when i came to it.

not available in my size either. not even close to my size--they had like 5.5 and 10's left. well. then. if you are starting to think this story is getting to be too long, then i'm with you.

finally, last night, i floated back to the sundance page, and those gorgeous italian sheepskin lined boots were still there. blake stood stirring our pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce....was this some sort of sign? i made one move foreward to see how it felt, clicking on the "online help" button and i was connected to michele instantly. i had never done this before and it was exciting. i asked her if she had a pair in my size and what the calf measurement was.

Michele : Hi Leah. Do you know the item number?
leah : yup hold on
leah : 47294
Michele : We have one pair left in the size 37. The circumference is 15"
leah : ooooh wonderful!
Michele : You can order them online if you want.
leah : what is your return policy if they dont fit?
Michele : You just need to mail them back to us and we will give you a refund for the price of the boots.

i give blake the blow-by-blow and he says "just go for it. we'll do a money juggle tomorrow." i felt like i was bidding on something coveted during the last 30 seconds of an ebay auction, i was all adrenelined out. when i put them in my cart they came up as only $119! plus shipping, but geez, that was over $200 off.

i am awaiting the boots with my fingers (or toes) crossed. either i scored an awesome pair of boots that will last me through many stylish yet rugged winters, or they suck and i send them back and the saga continues. i called zappos today and they are transferring my store credit back to my debit card. the guy mentioned that someone was in the process of returning a pair of the Campers in size 37 and that i can check back every day. we'll see. its not like i have 200 and something dollars laying around for shoe purchases. i promise, dear readers, to share the ending with you, whether its happy or not...

but tell me....what is the best pair of shoes or boots you ever scored?


Rebekah said...

OMG. You and I share an obsessive interest in the right footgear. Which I think we've already covered. I'm in search of The Black Boots. This makes me laugh. And sigh. I got my Hometown Hiking Boots from Frye for the 'smas. And I LURVE them!

Rebekah said...

I mean, by Frye from Sundance.

eak-fray, me and the footgear. And you too, mama.

Mrs. G. said...

Oh my Lord this post made me drool. I LOVE the boots you chose. The Italians are boot masters.

I just bought a pair of Dansko boots on Ebay and I adore them. I'm on my feet many hours and they are so comfortable.

Enjoy those boots!

Nicole said...

Leah...Heap many moon ago, I did spoken word. what follows is a piece I ALWAYS did...I think it answers your question.

"Sometimes you'll never know when it'll hit you. San Francisco, cold, cloudy and beautiful...but nothing to compare to that day...I walked into Wasteland and I was drawn instantly to the back of the store. I saw them. They saw me. I tried to look away, yet I was compelled to look. To the point of a blatant stare. All I could do was hope and pray. I quickly looked to both sides and made the B-Line. The next thing I knew, I was fondling and caressing them, as I slipped gently in. It was a perfect fit. Not so tight to cause pain, but a snug, gentle, yet constricting feeling. All of my prayers were answered. Yes, YES YES!!!! These black books were definately made for me. The soft squeeking of the leather after they are on and laced up. I am afraid to let my imagination go wild. Now, I wouldn't call myself a "ped" ophile, but I definately think it was a case of shoe love.

LittleYogini said...

Leah, you are the only person I know who can make a boot story funny and interesting. I have shoe struggles period. I'm always looking for cute and comfortable...not an easy match. Once I found a pair of Italian leather kitten heals that I fell in love with at Nordstrom. They were $90--way more than I would want to spend on a pair of shoes. I hunted them for months hoping they'd go on sale-but they never did. I finally bought them and they are the MOST comfy shoes I've ever bought....and they're stylish. I never regretted it--especially since I've bought so many cute shoes that killed my feet that I never wore OR so many comfy shoes that don't translate to cute!

Lee said...

I have a pair of pink boots that have been my favorites for 3 years now. VERY comfortable and has great traction for slick weather! So I totally understand about wanting just the right thing. Keeping my toes crossed for you, too!

mamanurture said...

shorty Frye cowboy boots on Ebay for like $60.00. I am stalking Ebay again for the next size up, since my feet grew at least half a size during pregnancy. Now I am favorite- bootless. sigh. I am also waiting for a spectacular deal on Hunter Wellies so I can survive mud season here (Vermont).

Lee said...

You'll have to give an update on the boots saga when there is a resolution. And check out my blog for your blog award :)