Here’s where I want to start with boots.
There’s this tricky fashion conundrum I’ve been wrestling with for some time. I keep trying to find shoes that look dressy and non-frumpy with skirts and dresses, and that are comfortable enough to walk in for miles.
I walk a lot. Walking is my main form of transportation. If the place I’m going to is an hour’s walk or less, I will almost always walk. It’s exercise; it gets me outside into the sunshine and the world; and I know exactly how long it’s going to take me to get where I’m going, without having to build in a cushion for late buses or bad traffic. Besides, I just love it. Walking a lot feels physically good.
But walking a lot means that my everyday shoes need to be super-comfortable. And I don’t mean “comfortable enough to walk in for a few blocks,” or, “comfortable enough to wear to work when I’m sitting most of the time and walking to other people’s desks now and then,” or, “comfortable enough to stand around at a cocktail party for an hour.” I mean, “comfortable enough to walk in for miles.”
So I need shoes that I can walk for miles in. And at least sometimes, I want to look dressy and non-frumpy when I get there.
(Tangent: And do not freaking tell me about ballerina flats. I don’t know if I have weird feet, or have been buying the wrong ballerina flats, or what. But every pair of ballerina flats I have ever owned has provided me with zero arch support, and has chewed the hell out of the backs of my ankles to boot. My four-inch stilettos are more comfortable. I keep trying, and I keep thinking that this time will be different, and I keep being disappointed yet again.)
My answer, so far: Boots.
Boots look freaking awesome with skirts and dresses. They can look sporty. Rakish. Tough. Sexy. Cutting-edge, retro, timeless. Delicately feminine, swaggeringly masculine, entertainingly genderfucked.
And — very importantly — they do not have to have high heels to look freaking awesome. Low or flat- heeled boots — ankle boots, knee boots, thigh boots — can look entirely gorgeous.
So I can walk in them for miles. I have boots that are more comfortable to walk in than sneakers.
And voila! Dressy and non-frumpy with skirts and dresses; comfortable enough to walk in for miles. Conundrum solved. (Much of the time, anyway.)
But there’s more to it than that. Like I wrote a few weeks ago, in my disquisition on shoes and why so many women get so obsessed with them: Shoes affect how you stand and walk. And in boots, the way I stand and walk is confident, assertive, even athletic. In boots, I have a strong stance, an easy stride. Boots — flat- or low- heeled boots, anyway — give an air of freedom, of being ready for anything: ready to walk for miles, climb a fence, run for a bus, run from the cops, kick someone in the balls, dance all night, fuck all night. Just by how you stand and walk in them.
I guess what I’m saying is: Power.
There’s something about that blend of comfort and confidence, ease and roughness, earthy practicality and showy swagger. It all adds up to power. They make me feel like a pirate. A superhero. Amelia Earhart. Emma Peel.
And, of course, there’s the fetishy aspect. Boots, for whatever obscure reasons buried in the history of sexual culture, are considered by many to be kinky and domme-y and fetishy. Less so with low- and flat-heeled boots — but even those tap into the archetype to at least some extent. (And depending on the low-heeled boots, they can tap into a stone butch or Tom of Finland archetype, if that’s what you’re going for.) Boots, for many people, evoke John Willie and Dita von Teese, Sacher-Masoch and the Velvet Underground’s whiplash girl-child in the dark. And even for people who don’t go there consciously, the echoes and shadows and implications are often still there.
And that makes them powerful, too.
Boots aren’t always perfect. They’re sporty and rakish and so on… which means that for some events and outfits, they’re just not dressy enough, or elegant enough. Sometimes you really need something delicate and strappy and subtle, or delicate and strappy and not-so-subtle. (A different kind of power.) I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pair of dressy, non-frumpy, shoes that I can walk in for miles. Of the non-boot variety, that is.
But the boot variety makes me pretty freaking happy.