Winter brings with it a four-month-long conundrum: What shoes can you wear to stay warm and dry, but still look chic? If you’re commuting through the slush and snow, fur-lined boots are the best (and most obvious) choice in terms of practicality. But the bulky, clunky styles that tend to spring to mind when you think of winter footwear aren’t exactly indoor-appropriate. Can fuzzy snow boots really work as anything more than outside-only shoes you immediately take off once you get where you’re going?
Those sporty, rugged versions may be best reserved for the ski slopes or scenarios where you brave a blizzard to run out and get food, but there are other options that can also handle a little inclement weather without cramping your style. Designers are bringing luxe, plush insoles and trims to classic silhouettes — Chelsea, combat, and even heeled boots are now getting the cozy treatment. No matter what winter locale (or occasion) you want to break out the cozy boots for, there’s a shearling or fur-lined style that's sure to fit the bill. Below, you’ll find a list of five essential styles that will help see you through to winter’s end — functionally and fashionably.
Classic and Sleek
These are your go-to Chelsea boots and other basic ankle styles — the types of shoes you’d likely wear on a daily basis already, just with the added winter-proofing of a cozy, fleecy interior. These styles are universal, so try styling them with everything from plain black work pants to leggings, mini skirts with tights, or denim.
Combat boots, along with their outdoorsy cousin the hiking boot, are in sartorial favor as of late. Whether you go with a grungy Dr. Martens style, or some more rugged and camping-inspired, find a pair with a sturdy lug sole, thick laces, and a plushy footbed. Wear with your favorite pair of slim-leg vintage jeans and an oversized sweater or fleece.
Even if it’s far from a sleek stiletto, a high heel will help elevate your cold-weather look. For daytime (or really any occasion where you might be required you to do a lot of walking, especially outside), opt for a chunky block-heel boot to safeguard against slipping. For something a bit more refined, tuck your pant legs into a pair of skinny-heeled tall boots lined with soft shearling.
Cozy and Casual
Your traditional Uggs and your INUIKIIs fall into this category — the guilty pleasures of the fur-lined boot world. They’re comfortable and oh-so-soft, but as divine as they may feel on your feet, they’re actually not that resistant to the damaging effects of wet slush and snow. To extend their lifespan, it’s advisable to wear them mainly for lounging around the house, or running errands and grabbing lunch with friends on your day off when there isn’t much in the way of snow and slush on the ground.
Rugged and Weatherproof
When the polar vortex roars and you’re facing blizzard conditions, turn to the originals. Sometimes heavy-duty snow boots are the only thing that will get the job done, so they deserve a place in your winter shoe collection. If you live in a big city, you’ve probably experienced the instant regret of stepping into one of those deceptively deep puddles that form at street corners — you want to be wearing something tall and waterproof when that happens.