Today’s question comes from Mark:
“Hey Peter, What are your thoughts on duck boots or galoshes? Would love to know what winter boots you recommend to wear to the office.”
Galoshes, while being practical, will always look like your shoes wearing condoms to me.
And while duck boots can be a stylish, I still find them a little clunky and not as functional as I’d like. The classic chain-tread seems better suited for mud than slippery city streets.
The great news is that footwear technology has advanced to the point where you can find some stylish, office-appropriate footwear that can tackle the worst weather winter can throw at you.
Here are my personal favorites.
Heads up: For tips on taking care of your boots, download my winter boot care guide below!
WHAT MAKES A GOOD WINTER BOOT FOR MEN
Water repellence, resistance, or proof:
You want your feet to stay dry, especially if you have the unfortunate accident of stepping in a deep puddle.
While these might all like the same thing, they’re not. It’s like saying “spicy” and “You must sign a waiver spicy” are the same.
It’s good to know what level of protection you’re getting yourself into.
Repellence offers the lightest protection, where light water and elements will bead off. This is often the most breathable, but will have trouble with heavy rainfall or submerging due to the lack of a middle repelling layer and unprotected seams.
Resistance offers a deeper level of protection, often through a middle layer underneath the outer repellent layer.
This extra layer acts as a barrier repelling any water that might seep through from penetrating deeper into your socks and feet. Because of this extra layer, these are less breathable. Prolonged submerging or unsealed seams cause still let water seep through.
Shoes that are fully waterproof offer the most protection, but are often the least breathable. Along with offering the same measures of repellency and resistance, an extra step of sealing any gaps such as the boot tongue, seams and laces give these shoes the ability to withstand deep puddles.
If you wear fully waterproof boots, it’s important you get a good wicking sock. Since waterproof boots are the least breathable, your feet can sometimes sweat. A sock without wicking will retain your sweat and make your feet cold.
While many of these boots featured offer protection out of the box, I always recommend adding an extra layer via water repellent spray. Also note that the effectiveness of your boots repellence will wear off over time due to use. So I also recommend giving your boots a good spray every year.
For more tips on taking care of your boots, download my winter boot care guide by entering your info below.
GOOD GRIPPING RUBBER SOLE
While leather bottom shoes look nice, this is a time when you want to go rubber with your sole. A good winter boot will have good traction, along with treads and chambers that spread out water or snow preventing slipping.
Look out for boots with soles by Vibram, one of the leaders in high quality, functional shoe soles.
A boot with good ankle support does two things. First, it helps stabilize you when walking on slippery surfaces. Second, it prevents your socks from getting wet if you step into a deep puddle.
MY 4 FAVORITE WINTER BOOTS FOR MEN
I’m well aware that not all of my readers live in spaces that get pummeled with snow every year. Below I’ve collected my favorite winter boots for men you can wear to the office for all climates. So whether you live in a spot that doesn’t go below 70 or find yourself knee-deep in snow, I got you covered.
FOR WARM WINTERS AND LIGHT RAIN: THE CLASSIC LACE UP BOOT
There’s a reason why I put a lace-up boot in nearly every one of my private client’s wardrobes. They’re a wardrobe essential that’s ridiculously versatile. You can wear them with jeans and a t-shirt, or a suit in a pinch.
For climates that have no snowfall and some occasional rain in the winter, these are perfect. They offer some natural water repellency, but I recommend spraying it with water repelling spray just for added measure.
They’re not thick or lined, which make them bearable to wear even if you’re reaching near summer-like temperatures.
FOR LIGHT RAIN OR SNOW: WATER PROOF CHELSEA BOOTS
I was introduced to these by one of my styling clients, and I love them as an alternative to clunky Duck or Hunter boots for rain.
What I love about this shoe: They’re extremely easy to slip on. The classic looking Chelsea boot design is elegant enough to wear during your most important business meetings, but completely wearable with something like a solid pair of denim.
This model by Cole Haan is made from an upper leather that’s treated to be 100% waterproof. The Nike developed Grand midsole technology is makes this particular boot as comfortable and light as a sneaker.
Best for light rain or snow. Note that the elastic panel of the Chelsea boot is water-resistant, not proof, and the sole won’t give you enough grip and traction on packed, icy snow.
UPDATE: Cole Haan has discontinued this model. I recommend checking out Thursday’s rugged Chelsea as an alternative.
THE ALL-PURPOSE RAIN AND SNOW BOOT: THE HIKING BOOT
Wearing big, over the pants snow boots in moderate snowfall is kind of like driving a Hummer in the suburbs. It gets the job done, but it’s also a bit of overkill.
A hiking boot, like The Commander from Thursday Boot Co., offers the best of a lace-up boot and a snow boot. It’s light and sleek enough to look great in the office, but it gives you the protection you need when the weather starts to get a little rough.
Inspired by classic hiking boots (you know, the kind people wore to climb up snowy mountains), Thursday’s take has everything I love in a winter boot: cushioned ankle support, a thick, grippy Carrarmato (which means “tank tread”) outsole by Vibram, ultra comfortable leather lining, and it looks fucking good.
There’s a reason I chose it for my Fall 2018 Style Guide. If you had to buy one boot from this post, make it this one.
FOR APOCALYPSE LEVEL BLIZZARDS: THE SOREL CARIBOU
When you need to battle a blizzard worthy of a disaster movie starring The Rock, this is the boot you need.
Sorel’s AeroTracs give me tons of grip confidence on the black ice of New York streets. The removable liner (felt in the original, wool in this model that I own) provides a much-needed warmth, along with a cushy barrier between you and the rubber lower shell.
These things can take a beating. Sorel owners have shared stories of owning the same pair for over 20 years.
It was the “code red blizzard” snow boot I’ve recommended for the past 3 years, and I suspect it’s going to remain my recommendation for the next 20.
And in case you’re wondering if these are ok at the office: Once you need to pull these bad boys out, it’s safe to say formalities are going out the window.
Your boss, co-workers, and any important business contacts will be dressing for survival at this point. They’ll understand.
KEEP YOUR WINTER BOOTS IN GOOD SHAPE
It’s always important to practice proper boot care, especially with the beating winter boots can take.
I put together a complimentary winter boot care guide to help you make sure your boots serve you well for years to come.
Just enter your info below and let me know where to send it!