Hi, my name’s Erica, and I’m addicted to boots. And not just any boots, but a pair of highly decorated boots that are embellished with stars, à la David Bowie. I wear them all year long, even in the dead-hot southern summer, when they make me sweaty, or cost me a big chunk of change. Because when it comes to the intrinsic confidence-boosting power of ankle length leather, I truly DGAF.
I can’t say precisely when my love of boots began. It might have been in first grade with the hot pink plastic Barbie shoes that belonged to my older sisters. When they weren’t looking, I would happily slip them onto my own doll’s feet. Or it may have been in third grade with my early obsession of oldies music. I’d croon along to Nancy Sinatra, pointing one finger threateningly back at my reflection in my mother’s vanity mirror while wearing layers of her costume jewelry, singing confidently, “These boots are made for walking!”
Perhaps it was an indignant reaction to Andrew (I don’t remember his last name), who made fun of me for the oversized winter boots I wore to high school. (In his defense, I grew up in South Carolina where the weather was anything but cold.) Whatever the reason, boots have always spoken to me, emboldened me, and when worn, felt like an extension of myself. Those primordial sparks grew aflame once I fell heart-first into rock and roll music. Watching my favorite music-slinging avatars stroll confidently in their glitter-laden sparkling platforms made me want to follow along in their footsteps.
But this is not the story of every pair of show-stopping (or starting) boots I own. This is the story of one very specific, very special pair of life-changing boots that I casually dropped $300 on with zero hesitation.
The moment I met the boots.
Like many fairytale stories, it all started in a small, snowy, whimsical town in Europe. I was strolling around Switzerland, half asleep after a train ride from Paris, and slightly hungover from a diet of baguettes and champagne I was weaning off. Most of the shops in the Swiss-German lakeside town of Rapperswil were closed, and under layers of blinding white snow, the town seemed as sleepy as me. That was, until, my eyes met with something that woke me up on a spiritual level.
In the window of a store I don’t remember the name of were three pairs of leather boots adorned with stars. There was one black, one red, and one beautiful white leather pair that seemed to wink at me from the other side of the glass. I walked in immediately as if pulled by a powerful force. Handing the white boots to the nice gentleman at the counter, I asked for my size. He brought over a few options in different colors, but because of the flirtation through the window, I already knew that the silver-lined, sparkly white leather boots belonged to me.
After trying them on, I handed over my card without looking at the price tag. The sales clerk laughed at the quickness of my decision. I threw them on immediately, placing my old snow-covered boots in the shopping bag and walking out into the slick cobblestone streets (the exact kind you shouldn’t walk on in leather soles) and a confident smile grew on my face.
Since then, these very same boots have helped me walk into super-secret speakeasies in Paris, shun anxious energy before interviewing bands backstage at music festivals, and have been complimented more times than I can count. You may be thinking that $300 is a lot of money for an unrecognizable brand from a random place in Switzerland, but what makes these boots special has very little to do with where they’re from and instead how they make me feel. How could you put a price tag on that?
Regardless of where I am and despite any anxiety I feel, I can click my boots together like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and I’m immediately at home.
There’s that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Nigel explains to Andrea why she shouldn’t scoff at working at a fashion magazine, explaining the beyond artistic explanations of the work of Halston, Lagerfeld, and de la Renta. He says, “What they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.”
If I’m going to live my life in shoes, why wouldn’t they be white leather electric boots? Ones that make me feel authentically and unapologetically myself. Kickers that make me shine when I feel dim; a little pep talk distilled into two leather star-decorated leg ornaments. That’s what my boots do for me.