I Was An NYC Commuter for 10 Years, These Boots Never Failed Me


(Image credit: @indyabrown)

As a tried and true New Yorker, I can definitively say that the ultimate litmus test for boots is a winter spent commuting around the city. It’s no easy feat: only the strong can survive piles of salt drenched pavement, sporadic puddles of questionable melted ice, and the friction of metal from the subway stairs. How many times have you ordered a pair of gorgeous black boots in September, only to have them crumble by December? Until I found my go-to styles and brands, for me, that was an embarrassingly high number. 

Before the days of quarantine life, the problem was compounded even more by daily commutes from showroom to showroom for editor appointments and weekly nighttime events. There was also the struggle of striking the delicate balance between shoes nice enough for morning meetings, and ones tough enough to meet the walking demands of the day. After lots of money spent and pseudo-scientific experiments on the streets, I've finally found the boots that rise to the challenge. Ahead, my favorite foot-friendly holy grail boots that can take the heat of the most strenuous days spent on your feet. 


We may be at the pinnacle of the lug boot trend, but trust me, if you walk around a bunch (especially in cold climates) you will get so much use out of them beyond their temporary moment of appeal. What helps most is that the rugged soles provide a bit of traction when walking over icy or snowy sidewalks. As far as other types of terrain go, I've worn my Dr. Martens Jadon boots during a sandstorm at Coachella, and during spontaneous light hikes, so they're also certainly versatile. If you have to buy one boot to take you through everything, a lugged boot will win this battle, with no competition. 


It took years of trial and error to find Chelsea boots that I actually love. Although simplistic in design, details like the shaft height, silhouette, and toe-shape can make all of the difference. I found that I prefer Chelsea boots with a modern square toe and a high shaft to compliment my endless collection of cropped jeans. Once I found my perfect pair, they quickly became a go-to for more fancy occasions where I would expect to be up on my feet all day.


Now onto the obvious: New York City is a rainy place. Somehow this feels two-fold in the dreary cold of winter, which is why I've always found it necessary to invest in a good pair of rainboots. There's almost nothing worse than the feeling of dirty water penetrating the leather fortress of your boots, seeping into every crevice of your socks. You could experience that wonderful feeling for yourself, or take my word for it and make rainboots an integral part of your shoe collection. One of my favorites is from Ilse Jacobsen, which also looks very Scandi-fashion girl.


The necessity of tall boots is really underrated. I found myself constantly going back to flat versions of them whenever I wore dresses during the colder months. It's added warmth for your legs, and they look appropriately elevated without the need for heels.


If you haven't noticed, I like trends, and that also goes for my commuter shoes. The misconception that commuter-friendly shoes should be devoid of fun, trendy details is one you can leave behind. Although cowboy boots have been firmly adopted by fashion people, at its core it's a shoe that's made to withstand even the toughest environments. They may take some time to break in, but once you do they're a trendy alternative that's worth it.

Next, 8 Chic Items to Add to Your Look, From a Nordstrom Buyer

Fashion Market Editor

Indya Brown is a fashion editor, stylist, and writer living in Los Angeles. While going to school at Columbia University in New York City, she got her feet wet in the fashion industry interning at Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine's The Cut. After graduating in 2016, she joined The Cut as a fashion assistant, eventually working her way up to fashion editor. There, she worked on a multitude of projects, including styling inbook feature stories for New York magazine's print issue, writing and pitching market stories for The Cut, and serving as fashion lead for The Cut's branded content. While New York has been her home for over 10 years, she moved to Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 for a new chapter. Now she is a fashion market editor for Who What Wear, focusing on emerging designers, rising trends on and off the internet, interior design, and BIPOC creatives and brands. Aside from her duties as a fashion market editor, Brown is also a freelance stylist and writer, working on national print and video commercial campaigns for Sephora, The Independent, and Cadillac. Her bylines also include Harper's Bazaar, Vox, and The New York Times. But once the computer goes down and the emails turn off, she's likely eating her way through Koreatown, hunting down vintage furniture, scoping out new outrageous nail designs to try, or taking a hot cycling class.