When I was in junior high, I had this pair of boots that I wore every single day. They were black with orange flames on the toes. They were vegan (I haven’t worn leather in about thirteen years). I thought they were the absolute coolest. The zipper on one boot broke twice, because I wore those boots every single day. After two trips to the cobbler to get the zipper fixed, I started fastening the right boot by wrapping a child’s belt around it. I wore those boots with every outfit, including dresses, flirting dangerously with my school’s dress code. Those boots were on my feet in the dog days of summer and the deep of winter. I had an angry battle with my mother over whether or not I could wear the boots to my eighth grade graduation. My mother won, thank god.
In hindsight, I cringe over those boots. They were hideous, even before they fell apart. I don’t remember what possessed me to think that those boots looked good, but I remember vividly how they made me feel. Boots have always felt like armor to me. They make me feel tough, and strong, and powerful. I loved the juxtaposition of tough boots with flirty, feminine dresses. None of that has changed, but my taste in the boots themselves has improved dramatically.
I recently went on a mini shopping spree at Alternative Outfitters, buying myself some work-appropriate boots. My initial search was aimed at finding boots, but I ended up falling in love with a few other pairs of fall footwear. Alternative Outfitters is amazing; all the shoes (and handbags and accessories) are vegan. And, quite importantly for me, all of it is reasonably priced. I scored four pairs of shoes for $78, and since my order was over $75, my shipping was free.
These boots were my gateway drug. I did not intend to buy four pairs of shoes, but once I started I just could not stop (and luckily, price was not inhibiting my shoe-binge). These were $13.00!
For work, I like to pair these with a pair of dark gray trousers and an oversized sweater in a dusty rose color. On the weekends, they are perfect with a pair of skinny jeans and a drapey green tunic. They are surprisingly comfortable, but I did accidentally aerate my boyfriend’s parents’ lawn when walking over it in those heels. This is why I can’t have nice things!
These boots give me strong high-school boot nostalgia. Not because they resemble a pair of Doc knockoffs with toe-flames (thank god), but because they make me feel powerful. They are $19.00 and also come in black.
I feel like a bad-ass in these. I love the IDGAF vibe of a slouched boot, especially when paired with the edge of a pointy heel. I wear these to work with brown tights. Boots/tights in a matching color is one of my favorite tricks for making my long legs look completely Amazonian and powerful. A black pencil skirt and a black blazer complete the outfit.
I have fought tooth and nail against loafers for ages. I finally realized not all loafers were loathsome when I saw these adorable oxfords. I was fighting the evil of the black tasseled loafer (the Olsen twins really like those, and while I think they are achingly stylish in many respects, their tasseled loafers offend me almost as much as their fur coats). I no longer believe that all loafers belong on a bonfire, because look at these. Cute as a button. And $28.00
I wear these with pin-striped trousers (because if I’m going androgynous, I am going full-on Annie Hall) both at home and the office.
I knew I was officially an adult, with business cards and a retirement plan, when I saw these wedges. They are everything that is right about sophisticated adulthood. They are not simple, as one might think at first, but classic. They have a rounded toe and cushioned insole for comfort (and a reasonably sane heel height). These shoes broadcast competence (“I balanced the budget”) while maintaining a sense of sexy mischief (“I can still flirt my way out of a speeding ticket”). These are $18.00, so they’d leave you with change from a twenty. Throw it on a bar tab or into a high-yield savings account— you decide!
I wear these to work with a drapey black blouse, a peach blazer, and a cream colored skirt. I rocked them this weekend with a vintage yellow dress and a cap-studded belt made out of recycled bicycle tires.
Check out Alternative Outfitters for more amazing vegan shoes and accessories. Shoes tell a story, and that story should include their conscious and kind origins.