Winter (Boots): The Struggle is Real

Weather-Proof Winter Boots

Five months. I have been searching for warm, weather-proof winter boots for five months. The struggle is real to find boots that are wide and large, and most importantly, pretty.The journey began at Nordstrom—the place for shoes for all sizes. But, it was futile, even at Nordstrom Rack on State Street. They only had fall boots in their store in September and none of them fit. I have large feet. I mean to say that I could share shoes with my brother, not my sisters. I tend to shop at Payless, and I found one weather-proof boot that looked perfect, but of course, it was out of stock.

We are in the heart of winter in Chicago, and so far I have been walking through snow, sleet, and slush in flats, high heels, and 4″ fall booties. People would literally come up to me and say, “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you wearing what you are wearing?” or they would look at my legs and feet and ask “Aren’t you cold?”.

My first attempt to buy boots was last winter at DSW in Lakeview. The sales clerk politely informed me that there were few in my size and that most likely drag queens bought them all. I knew there was a reason why it’s always been hard to find a pair of normal shoes in my size—I’m talking a pair of black pumps or a winter boot.

I am pleased to announce that as of today the struggle has ended. This was due in large part with the help of online forums, shoe reviews, and blog posts. Jezebel put out a warm winter boot guide in 2013. The boots were good, but a lot of them were out of stock and none were in my size. There are many solid winter buying blog posts that assess weather-proof vs. water proof. Glamour has a cute and practical winter boot guides. Some even went into such detail as narrowing selections based on shoe laces, but they were all irrelevant because the boots didn’t seem to fit my feet.

Then, I saw that Macy’s had winter boots. I ordered a pair of Aerosoles Lasticity Boots. They were beautiful in-person and online. They had great reviews and they were on sale. But, they didn’t fit.

Alas, I looked to Huffington Post’s: The Best Shoe Guide for Gals with Large Feet from 2013. While good, it’s time for a 2015 update. I have for you a mini guide to shopping for stylish winter boots made to fit your feet. Be warned, we are in the middle of winter, so boots are sparse in all sizes.

Guide to Winter Boot Shopping:

Jessica London: Jessica London carries shoes up to size 13 wide. They have various widths and they also have wide calf boot. There are less than 15 cold weather winter boots. Consumers usually have mixed reviews on quality and fit. Also, even if you buy boots on sale, shipping is only free after a $99 purchase.

Macy’s: Macy’s carries up to a size 11 wide in cold winter boots or a size 12 regular. If you are just looking for a winter boot, they carry one in size 12 wide compared to the 50 plus boots they carry in size 11 regular and 100 plus boots they carry in size 10 regular.

Nordstrom: Nordstrom carries shoes up to size 13. There are a lot of shoes available in 12 regular and even 13 regular at Nordstrom Rack on State Street, but at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue, the largest size they carried was 12 regular. When shopping online, Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns.

Zappos: I have never kept a Zappos shoe purchase. With that being said, women swear by this site. They carry sizes up to 17 and they have special shoes like wide calf boots. Their widths range from SS to EE. In terms of snow boots, the boots only extend to the ankle in larger sizes. So, it looks like you are wearing sneakers and not boots.They do, however, have a wide selection of riding boots in larger sizes. Zappos has free shipping and free returns. They go up to size 15 regular. As an added bonus, their shoes range from extra narrow to extra wide. Of course, the 15 regular shoes are Lady Gaga-esque.

Payless: If you are going in Chicago, go downtown. The one on State Street has the widest selections for size 12, 12 wide, 13, and 13 wide. The one in Edgewater and Uptown also carry up to size 13 wide, but they have a smaller selection. Payless carries sizes up to 13 wide. Shipping is free with a $35 purchase and right now it is their Buy One, Get One (BOGO) sale.

DSW: In Chicago, the Lakeview location tends to have more variety in larger sizes, but after size 11, the selection becomes sparse. Online, their boots go up to 13.5 and are available in narrow, regular, and wide. However, when searching for ridging boots and winter boots, the largest size available is currently a size 11 regular.

J. Crew: J. Crew carries up to size 12 regular. On J. Crew’s website, you can’t narrow your search by size. So, the task can be cumbersome if you have a rare shoe size.Top Brands include Sorel. Sorel makes quality, comfortable, and really fashionable winter boots. They only carry up to a size 12 regular and don’t have accommodations for narrow or wide feet. If you can get one in your size, go for it.

Amanda Whitfield
Amanda Whitfield

Amanda Whitfield is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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