Ask Alexandra: Best Winter Boots

Ask Alexandra is my advice column. Have a question you want to ask me? Fill out the form here.

Hi Alexandra
I love your site and your fresh, unapologetic perspective on fashion. Last year, I laughed so much at your hatred of Uggs (among other things). I’m wondering if you’d consider doing a post on acceptable vs. unacceptable winter boots for those of us who live in snow-plagued parts of the world. There are just SO MANY hideous winter boots out there, and not many decent options for cold, slushy, snowy weather. I think your readers would appreciate more of your humor and opinions on winter boots.

sorel boots, ask alexandra, fashion advice, winter boots

Sorel boots are the best boots for the snow, they are warm and waterproof. And look pretty decent. Prices start around $100.

Dear Amanda,
I’ll agree that dressing for snow is rarely fashionable. Not only are you trying to keep warm, but you also need to make sure you aren’t slipping and sliding all over the place.

I live in between Vancouver and Whistler, and while I wouldn’t say we are snow plagued, we do get a few days of snow in the winter. When I am out locally (and not too bothered about how I look) I am either wearing Sorel boots or rubber boots (not fancy Hunter ones, I bought mine for $40 at Walmart and they are minus 40°C rated) with big thick wool socks that pull up higher than the boot.

winter boots, fashion advice, ask alexandra, marc jacobs

These boots from Ssense are all stylish and practical for winter, from left to right. Marc by Marc Jacobs, $305. I have a pair similar to these and I need to warn you that these are great in light snow but are not NOT waterproof. Moncler boots, $745. They know how to do ski jackets, so they should know how to do boots. Belle Sigerson Morrison, $545, the rubber crepe snow is great in the wet and cold.

When I am in town and want to look decent in the snow, I wear my Frye motorcycle boots (always a great option, and you can wear them year round) or anything with a low heel and a rubber sole. Here are a few boots that would work in really bad weather, but won’t make you look like you are wearing fat ugly pillows on your feet (otherwise known as Uggs.)

And in terms of unacceptable winter footwear? Well, the obvious answer is Ugg boots, or any Ugg lookalike. Another way to look really stupid in the winter is to wear highly inappropriate shoes, for example sky high stilettos when it is snowing. Not only does that look ridiculous, but you risk twisting your ankle on the ice and being stuck wearing flats for months.

winter boots, Aldo, ask alexandra, fashion advice

Some less expensive and more practical good looking winter boots from Aldo.

I am usually against the concept of wearing running shoes to work and then changing into high heels when you get there (I figure if you can’t manage the shoes on the way TO work, you don’t deserve to wear them AT work) but winter is an exception to this. If you have to look good, then wear something practical and change when you get there.

FYI, I managed Montreal in January with a pair of 3 inch high Finsk boots. If the sidewalks are well-paved, most comfortable shoes are acceptable. Just be careful of the salt ruining the leather.

  • Lauramilnes

    I live in Calgary so I would never ever ever wear a pair of $750 so called “winter” boots. Although I have nothing against pretty shoes – seeing as I have several closets full of them in my own house – pretty winter boots just aren’t practical in Calgary. It is nothing to get a few feet of snow over night in Calgary thus leading me to rely on my super thick motorcycle leather boots (that I have sprayed) that I wear with very thick wool ski socks. They look awesome with pea coats and are also super sturdy, warm and durable for *real* winters. (haha, had to do it…you Vancouverites have no clue what winter is!!)

  • Anonymous

    It depends on where you are walking. Like I said, I did Montreal in January with Finsk platform boots. If the streets are cleared, you only need something to keep you warm, and any of those boots will do the job. But yes, if you are digging a car out of the snow, I’d go for the more practical ones.

  • Eva Konbahberg

    I can’t believe you would recommend any of these hideous hideous boots that look like they could be made by any super cheap high street shop imported from China when you criticized Cassette Play and KTZ for doing something weird and different.  This looks like the kind of stuff you could find in Payless next season.  It’s obvious that your taste is extremely mainstream and you might as well just sit at a desk and do cut ups of kids shopping at the mall in Omaha and then press  the “made in China” button to have it shipped over in 2 weeks.

  • Anonymous

    You probably can find stuff like this in Payless (I wouldn’t know, I’ve never set foot in there) but that is because they copy what other designers do. Every high street store does that (that’s how fashion works.) Just because I don’t like heinous neon t-shirts made by the worst dressed woman in the world (Carrie Mundane) does not mean I am mainstream.

  • Eva Konbahberg

    haha. You’re an ignorant conformist who only cares about fitting in and not pushing any concepts.  Probably would work well in the 40s.  In Germany.

    Anyway, in case you’d like to be educated, if you don’t like Carri’s style you probably also hate Grayson Perry’s style.  Even though he has been routinely received the highest awards for his artwork and his dress style is clearly part of his art.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3298707.stm

    And of course, there is the Rolling Stone article of 2008 awarding Carri best designer of the year.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/photos/best-fashion-designer-cassette-playa-carri-munden-20080425

    But then you probably also hate the iconic swan dress worn by Bjork that has been emblazoned on to people’s minds because of its genius (whereas no one will ever remember your winter boots next year).   The man who designed it is the man behind KTZ, FYI.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_dress_of_Bj%C3%B6rk

    There’s a lesson here.  Before you bring out “HATE” in reference to someone’s personal taste. Consider where you come from (Canada) and whether it’s really got any place at all other than appealing to ignorant insecure people.

  • Anonymous

    Woah. Clearly you are bitter here. I am guessing you work for Cassette Playa? Or Kokon Tozai?

    1- A post on boots to wear when it is snowing DOES NOT define my style or taste. In Canada, it snows. And we need to dress for the elements. Perhaps you’d like to suggest some better looking boots for when you are walking down an ice covered street in minus 20?

    2- I like the way you assume I would hate Grayson Perry’s style. I don’t. Art is one thing, fashion another. He doesn’t dress that way in order to sell clothes.

    3- I hardly ever trust magazines’ “best of” lists, and I certainly wouldn’t read Rolling Stone for fashion advice. So I couldn’t care less who they voted best designer in 2008.

    4- I don’t “probably hate” Bjork’s dress either. Can you explain how my dislike of oversized, neon printed t-shirts suddenly means I dislike the swan dress and some random artist? And yes, I know Marjan Pejoski designed that dress. Some designers can do great things one season, and do ugly things the next. One nice dress does not mean they are an amazing designer.

    5- Your anti-Canada comment is truly and utterly ignorant. Read my bio, I am pretty sure I have better qualifications to be critiquing fashion than you do. I certainly don’t need to be educated by a racist with bad fashion taste.

    I am actually disgusted that I’ve even wasted my time responding to your comments. Feel free to disagree with what I say, but you have a nerve making presumptions about my taste, and insulting my country.

  • Sharmeen

    It’s telling that you have to resort to name-calling and put downs to make your point. Also, describing everything in personal, subjective terms. If this blog is a “critique” of fashion, as you suggest, then it should be that – an objective analysis, not just you going “that’s gross, I don’t like that.” If, as you claim, you have “better qualifications to be critiquing fashion”, then stick to the objective, rigorous standards of analysis that a degree or likewise qualification in fashion would require. If you’re not going to, then stop acting all high and mighty and going down the path of “my dick is bigger than yours”.

    I stumbled across your blog looking for examples of fashion design portfolios and, whilst entertaining, after reading a few articles, you really come across as someone who has a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Not sure why you are putting down “schools in the middle or nowhere” or looking down your nose at Payless (“I wouldn’t know, I’ve never set foot in there”), but it just demonstrates an extremely closed-minded, ignorant and arrogant attitude that’s, frankly, quite unnecessary and makes for a very jarring read.