Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on upgrading my wardrobe. Granted, I have plenty of t-shirts and jeans; these aren’t what I’m talking about, since I replace these whenever they start to look past their prime. I’m talking about wardrobe items that I’ll hold onto for years, the ones that are tried-and-true classics.
This is the first of a series of posts I’m working on about wardrobe staples. I’ll start with the ones I have, and then move onto my wishlist items that I’m saving up for.
The Bean boot
I commute to work on foot, so a pair of Bean boots is essential. They are durable, completely waterproof, handmade here in the United States, and have a classic look for both men and women. If you want a boot that will last you a lifetime, this is the boot to buy.
The Bean boot comes in several different styles for men and for women. I personally wear the gumshoe (featured above), which works nicely as a rain and snow boot. I didn’t opt for Thinsulate, Goretex, or shearling, since I usually wear heavier socks for winter wear. For women, there are gumshoe, moccasin, 6″, 8″, and 10″ options in a couple different colors; the options for men are comparable. The sizing is a little tricky—my gumshoes are a size 7, but I typically wear a size 8.5—to account for thicker socks, so that’s something to take note of if you order them.
I wear these with jeans, khakis, even skirts with tights, though this last combination gets everything from compliments to looks of incredulity (thanks, Cody). It can be a bit trickier to wear these as business casual or business formal shoes, but when are rain/snow boots ever truly office appropriate? When it’s especially rainy or snowy, I’ll throw a pair of heels or flats in my bag and change them out. Bean boots are a better option than most pull-on rain boots (classic Hunter boots being the exception), and a definite improvement on tennis shoes.
The LL Bean boot, originally the Maine Hunting Shoe, was first made in 1912. You can read more about the history here, and about the company itself here. (Great reads, especially if you’re into the history and context of good quality retail items.)
Some mentions in popular blogging culture
Fred Castleberry of Unabashedly Prep shared a great video on how the Bean boot is made. Josh and Travis of Street Etiquette did a nice feature and spread on the boots as well.
LL Bean guarantees their products 100%, so if you’re not happy with your experience you can contact them 24/7/365. (If you’re ever in Freeport, ME, be sure to stop by their flagship store. It is also open 24/7/365, which can lead to interest post-dinner shopping adventures at about 10:30 p.m.) If your boot treads wear down, you can send them in for repair (I believe it costs about $50 total, including S/H), so you’ll never have to go out and buy another boot.