No caption ever.
Full disclosure: The best pair of shoes may not always be the most comfortable. This author cares far less about your comfort than he does about whether you look and feel like a badass. He takes no responsibility for your blisters, but full credit for any and all positive sexual results. Always put your best foot forward. This apt phrase applies both figuratively and literally, although you should never, ever wear two different shoes from two different pairs. Now that we've gotten that squared, let's talk footwear.
Please leave it to him.
How's your fucking marathon going? You cross-training, Bo Jackson? Are you at the gym, en route or just left, like the rain in England? Take off your sneakers. Many would argue, like denim, that the athletic shoe has firmly ensconced itself as a legitimate style choice outside of its intended use. In many cases, it may have. The iconic sneaker, such as a Vans Slip-On, Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars or an Adidas Superstar Shelltoe, were solidified by men far greater than us, namely Jeff Spicoli, The Ramones and Run-D.M.C. Stylistically, they're as simple and elegant as many dress shoes, eschewing the busyness of modern athletic sneakers which are actually designed for improving safety and efficiency in sports. So unless you're Karl Malone, use the right tool for the job, although accept the exceptions.
A rare example of truly apt sneaker style.
Everything you currently like about your sneakers can be found in a good pair of boots. They're durable, distractingly comfortable when broken in, offer arch, heel and ankle support and unlike trainers, actually dictate that you may be capable of specific real life work. Like a cocktail at a Hollywood nightclub and the Gods Must Be Crazy franchise, some boots have been diluted to the point of tastelessness. But you know that every time you see someone in Uggs. The authenticity of a true boot screams "yippie kay yay, motherfucker" while downing a shot of Wild Turkey. People in boots are cowboys, punk rockers and motorcycle riders. They go-go dance. People in boots get to do all the badass stuff we wanted to do as kids. Sure, they're not playing team sports, but they're loners, Dottie, rebels.
This is you after you get some boots. You'll also meet your badass partner, Dale Evans.
The most important part of the boot is the fact that it's made of leather. If you're a vegan, commonly known as "Wrong," you and your sallow, wan, anemic self should stop reading this and immediately eat a steak, and then get some leather boots. Leather has been a hallmark of the boot since the Mongols invaded Western Asia about a millennia ago. You too can rock what Genghis Khan rocked, just cool it on the raping and pillaging, stick more to the concept of having killer facial hair. Sure, certain boots should be waterproof and rubberized all over. You may be noodling for catfish, which is not a euphemism for being overwhelmed at an orgy, but it should be. Commit to leather. Second to the material, a boot should have a Goodyear welt, meaning that the sole is stitched and buttressed in addition to adhesive, not just simply glued. The Goodyear was invented by the son of the tire guy, the man who vulcanized rubber. Basically, this style of construction is akin to wearing a pinnacle of 19th Century science on your feet. That's like O.G. Steampunk, but without being laughed at for your pocket watch and goggles. Finally, it should fall into a classic category, an archetype. A good boot is like a good movie, an example of something that acknowledges its genre, either by being an unflappable representative or a transcendent improvement.
Original gangster boots.
This author was recently invited to join his Boss (mine, not The) during a fun jaunt through The Great Southwest. Y'all may have seen the outcome of that, via the good folks at American Movie Classics. We gonna raise that baby right. We ended up in Santa Fe, also known as the set of Two Lane Blacktop, and had a stroll through the Lucchese store. Lucchese are considered, along with Leica, Rolex and my mom's roast chicken, to be the pinnacle of their respective brands. Sure, there are arguably competing options, but don't talk about my mommy that way. Lucchese boots start at about five hundred bucks, but realistically, that's like buying a budget PC; you'll inevitably want to max out the RAM, up your graphics processing, add a few SCSI peripherals. The next thing you know, your Quadra 610 has a DOS card in it and the whole thing cost a couple G's, like your Lucchese boots. Unlike your PowerPC, these boots will last you a lifetime and never transition to different architecture, but who's going to spend a thousand simoleons on boots? Apparently, lots of people, since the store was crowded with folks wanting to buy the wearable art at sticker price. But this author staunchly believed there was another way. Just like that famous episode, we took to the Turquoise Trail for a little recharge, rife with organic cafes and vintage shops. It was in one of these antique palaces that we found a stronghold of boots, including a beautiful pair of Lucchese for around $70. Beyond the Lucchese, there were many of the brands I will go on to list, which may not be four-figure gets, but easily found at a tenth of their original price. Now, this is more a testament to the top-level Karmic goodwill that Rian Johnson has engendered. These things happen to him all the time because he's the most generous, compassionate and humble person around (sorry, mom), but some variation can happen to you as well. The first step is to be fucking awesome, make great art for all the right reasons and stay loyal to those you love. The second step is to troll vintage shops. Not coincidentally, the Goodwill is a great option, both literally and figuratively. Often, you'll notice that a broken-in pair of boots might match up swell with your footsies, as if some long-lost family member with the same instep or weird long middle toe had them before you. It's a beautiful thing, a connection that can be embraced after a little spritz of disinfectant, much like many physical human relationships. If you follow some basic rules, like those above about craftsmanship and obvious flaws (stay away from ripped seams and cracked materials), you can easily find a lovely pair for well under a C-note.
Rian Johnson, prior to finding his Lucchese boots.
Cowboys tend to be flashy, which can insinuate that you're trying to make up for something, like a little penis or being ashamed of how awesome you are. The gamut can be run. This author suggests keeping it simple, a nice dark brown in cowhide. Some good brands are Durango, Ariat and Justin. Engineer, Motorcycle and Chelsea's are classic rocker boots, good for The Beatles, The Boss and lots of English professors in the 1980s who got laid as much as them. Lace-ups like Packers, Loggers and Army styles tend to be a little dressier and easier to break in. They're generally versions of slip on cousins. In S.A.T. analogy style; the Packer to the Cowboy, the Logger to the Engineer. Lately, the Desert boot, or Chukka, popularized by Stevie McQueen and Bobby Redford, has had a resurgence. They are very supple and made of suede, much like McQueen and Redford themselves. Even our recent fictional badass, Walter White, wore a short Desert-style boot-moccasin mashup by Clarks.
Sometimes even the most badass can't handle their boots.
More good boot brands are Frye, Red Wing, Tony Lama and Wolverine, to name a few and forget too many. You'll want to get heel-savers on them and reheel frequently, although Vibram (and the like) soles shouldn't need resoling more than every few years. A good pair should last you at least five years of harder work than you're ever planning to do, or have done. New, they should cost at least $150. This is a situation in which you should commit and invest, like that time you had a hunch that New Mutants #98 was in that grab-bag and had to walk home hungry because you spent your bus money and your snack money but it was totally worth it.
The Stones in Beatle boots, still available today, although Brian Jones was a limited edition.
These men are just going to brunch. But their boots make it an epic, existential experience.
Unlike the shitty electronics that keep you tethered, a pair of boots will set you free, help you see the Real World and be prepared for anything. Their batteries'll last longer than your iDevice and be more unique than that bedazzled case you got at the mall. You and your boots will become best friends, indispensable and codependent, like Oscar and Felix or The Bush Family and Karl Rove. If you don't have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you can always have a pair of boots. It is entirely possible that if you want one or both of those people in your life, your boots will stroll you to them, alongside them and if things go really sour, stomp all over 'em. Figuratively. Don't stomp anybody with your boots, you maniac. Those boots are made for walkin'.