Winter boots with kick
Hunter or duck boots do a fine job of keeping toes warm and dry between home and office, but rubber uppers don't look so great in a business meeting or on a date.
There are warm and waterproof boots that look as appropriate around a conference or cocktail table as they do in a rain puddle or snowdrift. No coincidence that many of the finest hail from Canada — Aquatalia by Marvin K., La Canadienne, Pajar, Blondo.
While some surpass $400 at full retail, there's no better time to invest than after the holidays, when prices dip to yearly lows, along with the temperatures. Sharp-eyed shoppers can score deals at end-of-season sales and at sibling stores to specialty retailers, like Nordstrom Rack.
"The season is coming to an end, so it's a really good time to come and get them, whether it's for the remainder of the season or for next year," says Claudia Amato, shoe department manager at Nordstrom Rack in Troy.
Currently Amato's store has deals on Sorel boots, a popular brand of women's snow and rain boots, known for their rubber shells. She adds that many of the shoes on sale now will be in fashion next year. "Our styles don't really date themselves."
Andre Assous, Ugg, Santana — even The North Face — offer some office-appropriate waterproof options, from knee-highs to booties, under $200.
Read the fine print on the descriptions before you buy if you want serious protection from moisture. Shearling is tough to render entirely waterproof. That's why some of La Canadienne's boots use straight suede at the base, treated in the tannery to seal out moisture, then add shearling around the calf for warmth. Faux leather, microfiber and other man-made materials can repel water at lower prices.