I have often been asked, “how can you wear boots every day?” as in, “don’t they get uncomfortable?” or “don’t you have to dress up sometimes?” or “don’t you need sneakers when you go to the gym?”
Okay, here are tips from a guy who has worn boots exclusively for more than 45 years…
Rule 1: Make sure the boots you choose fit properly. The fit for the foot is important, but also the fit for the calf. Nothing becomes more annoying to have your toes get pinched or your calf get chaffed or scratched by an ill-fitted boot, or have boots too narrow in circumference to allow your legs to breathe feel hot. Know that as a man (or woman) ages, his feet spread and become wider. Muscle tone in the lower leg relaxes, making a wider calf circumference. That means that boots that fit you when you were 25 may not fit so well when you’re 40 or older.
Rule 2: Wear good quality socks — never bare feet inside boots! Socks absorb sweat, take a pounding and absorb shock, and provide a good deal of cushioning. My recommendations for socks are here in a previous post.
Rule 3: Wear clean socks. As obvious as that sounds, not all guys wear a clean pair of socks each time they pull on a pair of boots. Dirty socks can cause your feet to become infected with fungus (athlete’s foot). Also, worn socks flatten out, defeating any comfort that they could provide. Me? I change boots 2 – 5 times a day, and change my socks each time that I change boots. My feet feel cool and comfortable all day (and night).
Rule 4: Check boot insoles and insert new ones and/or clean them. All boots have some type of insole, or pad, placed along the footbed from toe to heel. On some boots, the insole will be thin piece of fabric. On other boots, the insole will be removable and sometimes even washable. For boots with a thin or old insole, try to take it out (no sense in keeping something in there that is not working and may be infected with fungus). Replace it with a good quality gel insole from a drug store. I use Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles which make a fundamental world of difference in how comfortable my boots feel when I wear them. For boots with a removable and washable insole, it’s likely that you have never washed the insoles. Try it — you’ll like it. Amazing how washing a washable insole rejuvenates it to make it feel more comfortable inside a boot, as well as removes any fungus spores lurking around.
Rule 5: Choose the right boot for the right application. Good choices: a nice pair of dress cowboy boots with a suit; lug-soled motorcycle boots when riding a motorcycle; rugged work boots when doing heavy yardwork. Bad choices: logger boots at an amusement park where a lot of walking is required; muddy motorcycle boots with dress clothes in an office; smooth-soled cowboy boots on a motorcycle. You get it. That’s why I own and think it is important to have a number of different styles of boots from which to choose.
Rule 6: Change boots regularly — at least once a day (or more often.) No matter the quality of the boots, eventually your feet “feel it” and you may become more uncomfortable in a pair of boots as a day progresses. This is true particularly for men (and women) over 50. If you change boots two or three times a day, the boots you take off can cool and air out and the boots you pull on will feel cool and comfortable to your feet. That’s why I change boots as often as I do — wear a pair to work, change when I get home, change again after dinner. I may change boots even more often on weekends, depending on what I am doing and what transportation I use.
Rule 7: Build a boot collection of quality and variety — then no matter where you are going, how you will get there, and what you will be doing — you will always have a good pair of boots to wear.
Rule 8: Do not allow other choices — give away or discard any sneakers or dress shoes in your closet, and if you have sandals or flip-flops, then toss them in a roaring fire! If you don’t have non-boot alternate choices of footwear, then you will do what I do — wear boots every day!
Life is short: wear boots!