My tale of woe began four years ago. I was working in downtown Manhattan, and mid-heeled ankle boots were my lifeblood — they helped my legs look great, worked with every outfit, and made me feel worthy of walking into a skyscraper each day. I started getting terrible, persistent back pain, and the bubble popped. It was flat shoes with orthotics or misery, and just like that, all my shoes went out the window.
I'm endlessly glad that transitioning to stylish sneakers (and daily PT exercises) keeps me from hobbling pain, but still, a sneakers-only diet left me feeling dissatisfied, excluded from fashion, and a wee bit sloppy. Hokas with a sparkling dress isn't quite the vibe, but I was resigned; seemingly only frumpy flats and clunky shoes could accommodate my inserts.
And then, on Black Friday, change waltzed into my life in the form of a pair of Naturalizer Julian boots. A colleague spotted them on sale and I promptly hit purchase, won over by the cozy faux fur lining, striking laces, convenient side zipper, and luxurious leather. They give off a Daria feel, but elevated — and as soon as I slipped them onto my feet, the warm lining and roomy interior made me want to die in these things.
Shop now: $92 (Originally $185); amazon.com
I've since worn them almost every day since November, and they still look brand new. I have budding bunions (glamorous), and the leather broke in around them within days. They're all-weather, thanks to the sealed waterproof finish, and even with my orthopedics, my feet never feel cramped — another plus, considering tight shoes are a recipe for more foot problems.
Best of all, the sleek, stylish boots work flawlessly whether I'm wearing my 80th pair of winter leggings or going for a tights and dress look. I slide them on even when I need to take out the trash, and they're the rare shoe that's almost better without socks. The fuzzy lining feels like an Ugg but with the structure of an expensive leather boot, and the boots' lug soles are both trendy and practical.
I can't recommend them enough, and apparently neither can other people, since multiple sizes are near selling out since going on sale this morning. Nab them for 50 percent off while you can — your feet will thank you.
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