Yesterday, I bought my first pair of boots in five years that I hadn't been lusting over for at least a month. Kind of an odd experience... my current boots are still (more or less) waterproof, too, and they haven't even begun to give me back problems yet! And that's only my second-best boots--I actually have another pair of Best Boots, that are still Beautiful! I think I'm becoming bourgeois.
Apparently, I've decided to write a little Boot History for you. Boots are surprisingly important in my life, as they were one of the first-ever aesthetic-identity decisions that I ever made on my own. My mother gave me my first hat and encouraged me to wear / manipulate it in the hope that I'd take to that instead of fire breathing (I did both) and I'd been wearing boots for years before I thought to try on a skirt. Nathan Hall and I started wearing blazers and suit coats in High School, and that was probably my first real Choice, but the boots were the second or so.
I bought my first pair of boots from the Salvation Army in Amherst, the one across from that bagel shop. I got them on a whim, and I'd never worn boots before--I really liked them. I liked them so much that my grandfather gave me a set of boot polish for Christmas.
After that I spent a while buying boots when compelled to through necessity (even duct tape can only last so long before it comes apart). I'd get cool boots from the boot store. I'd generally go shopping and just buy the coolest boots I could afford, which were usually cheap New Rocks or TUKs. I liked chrome, and still do.
Then, in 2001, Katya and I technically "broke up" for six months--I'd say more about that, but it ain't exactly your business, except that A) I was really broken up about it, and B) I wasn't going to be buying a plane ticket to Chicago that month. To offer myself some consolation I bought these boots that I'd been staring at for quite a while*--the $250 knee-high New Rocks with flames on the sides.
I wore those boots for a month, and by then most of the chrome had fallen off. I kept wearing them, long after that. I wore them into the ground, no doubt. I wore them when I moved to Chicago, and kept wearing them. The straps and zippers broke, and I got them repaired, and then (eventually) they broke again. By that time I was living in Chicago with a two-bedroom apartment and no source of income; I couldn't afford to fix them again, so I tied them on every morning with tie line. Sooner or later even I noticed how atrocious that looked, but there didn't seem to be a lot that I could do about it.
I got a job at Chicago Spotlight and began eying this nice pair of Fluevogs--much less outlandish, but still very nice. By this time, Katya suggested that the New Rocks (which had worn unevenly, and hurt my feet) might actually be giving me back problems...
The flames on the Fluevogs were of a much more subdued burgundy, and it was clear that they were a much higher class than the New Rocks. They were also $250, and I saved up for them and finally bought a pair.
That pair fell apart in less than a month, but Fluevog rocks, so they fixed them for free. They broke again, Fluevog fixed them again. Then they burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. Fluevog fixed them one last time, and then gave me a brand new pair for free.
I wore the "lemons" for a few more months, until they died again, and then switched to the new boots. Last year I got a new credit card with a $500 credit limit, maxed it out, and then paid it off completely (still not sure what that was about). Somehow I got the idea that I therefore had an extra $500, so I used it to buy my Pirate Boots. (I'm actually still paying for those, I guess). Actually, it seems that I'm ahead of schedule--I bought new boots on the 24th of January last year, but on the 17th this year...
Anyway, I wear the Pirate Boots from time to time (I'm wearing them today) and on Special Occasions, but they cost a frightening amount of money, and so I'm scared to wear them too often. The Fluevogs, I realized recently, are actually beyond their last legs. Just because they still have a semblance of structural integrity, just because they aren't covered in duct tape and tie line, it's still ok to get new every day boots. Most of the eyelets have gone, all but three of the quick-tie hooks are gone, I can only lace them up halfway before I have to start wrapping the laces around the boot so that I can keep it attached to me foot.
I spent a while boot shopping yesterday, and was finding nothing. Or, rather, finding a lot of extremely boring footware, and a very very little that was "well, that would be ok, I guess". Inevitably, I would then realize that the "ok" shoes were $350. I'm not spending that much for "ok". Finally Katya point out these, on Zappos.com:
It seems very strange to me to have not only a second-best pair of boots, but also to have a third-best pair. To say nothing of the fact that my Best Boots are hand-made leather pirate boots. It's also weird to buy new boots so easily and quickly, online, without ritual or ceremony.
* Actually, perhaps I merely walked into the store and bought them outright. I can't remember and, although I feel that it's a better story the other way, I want to be clear about this in the future.
++ It is well worthwhile to consider to military aesthetic here. Perhaps they are attractive to me, in part, because they look like armor--armor that can protect me from a hostile world? Or perhaps they look like part of a uniform, and soldiers have power? Maybe I like them because they are bizarre, but not ridiculous. People won't think of me as frivolous merely because of these boots, and it's important to me that folks take me seriously. I think that this is behind a lot of the industro-goth movment, with its spikes and chains. If you don't fit in with the herd, you're obviously either a Lone Wolf or a Fool, and if you wear enough spikes and chains people won't think that you're a Fool. Even still, surely there's a non-militaristic aesthetic that doesn't read as frivolous? Well, not in the realm of Boots that Fit and that I Can Afford, at any rate.
And yes, it might seem odd that I care about whether I am taken seriously, but this is no new change--I've felt this way for years, possibly forever. That doesn't prevent me from certain... outré eccentricities of dress, however.