Sartorial Observer: Striding outside in style and comfort

I don’t know if it was the sight of my friend’s orange puffy Northface jacket during physics class on Friday or that freak snowstorm on Saturday, which even I – a seasoned New Englander – had never before encountered, but my sartorial consciousness has shifted abruptly from fall to winter. We barely got to welcome the days of tweeds and richly colored cable knit sweaters before we got slapped in the face with eight inches of snow and the realization that we may not be prepared to handle such an early arrival of winter. But fear not, for this is where I step in – to offer not only aesthetic, but also practical advice in the event of another premature blizzard.

I have been noticing over my time at Williams that there is a startlingly large population of students who lack proper winterized footwear. I don’t know if this reveals a stylistic concern that snow boots are generally unattractive, or if it’s an indicator of some deeply rooted denial that we are currently living somewhere that can surprise us with a white Halloween merely three weeks after a weekend with 70 degree weather – but even last night, I was walking with an alumnus who was sliding all around the sidewalk, talking about how after his four years here, he has yet to own snow boots. You don’t have to look that hard to find stylish shoes that will also keep your feet toasty warm and dry during those sub-zero days that lie ahead, and for your convenience, I’ve already done the looking for you! So read on.

The best combination of style, functionality and affordability is unquestionably the Bean Boot by L.L. Bean. Furthermore, it’s unisex – boots for everybody! I know this does not come as news to the majority of you, but I am not talking about just any type of Bean Boot, I am talking about the model lined with Thinsulate and Gore-tex. At $144 before tax and shipping, this model is about $50 more expensive than the unlined version, but the Thinsulate will keep the cold out and the warm in, and the Gore-tex makes the entire shoe waterproof. After getting mine last year, I proudly stomped through every snow bank I could find, boasting to my friends about the resilience of my footwear. I have yet to look back. What’s better is that their looks only improve as you beat them up. So guys, take a page out of the girl’s style book, and try tucking your pants into your Bean Boots to show off that patina that commemorates each winter you’ve survived.

However, the Bean Boot is a pretty ubiquitous presence on campus, and I totally understand the desire to be a bit unique, so here are a few suggestions of styles that are less represented.

For the girls who want to retain some sexiness to their look, Hunter makes a heeled boot that hits above the ankle for under $200. Heels sound like the enemy in winter, but this is a stack heel that has a thick, rubberized sole. The caramel leather combined with a sleek silhouette gives this boot a slightly dressier appearance, while its lacing grounds it in a more utilitarian aesthetic. I could see these being as easily paired with jeans as with a cute skirt and oversized sweater. This is perfect for those of you who don’t want to have to stash an extra pair of shoes in your purse to change into when you arrive wherever you’re going.

Guys, if you haven’t heard of Red Wing Shoes, stop whatever you’re doing and Google them now. The traditional footwear of workmen and hunters since the early 20th century, these shoes are built to last. Take a look at their heritage collection, which offers a selection based on vintage designs. These look equally good with a pair of sweatpants as with jeans or khakis. The quality does come at a price, though, ranging between $200 and $300 for a pair. Keep in mind, though, that these will probably become your go-to boots every day between December and March for the next few years. You might want to invest in something that will stand up to those New England winters and it’s always nice when they look good, too.

I’m afraid it’s time to face it: Winter has come early this year. But I hope that you can channel that dread into footwear-oriented excitement! So hop online and check out these boots. You’ll be glad you did.