It was raining in New York City today when I stepped out of the Penn Station subway stop and I immediately regretted the footwear I picked out for today: ballet flats that allowed the icy water from each puddle to slosh over the tops and into the shoe, soaking my socks and chilling my foot. Of course every other person I passed seemed to have been much more prepared (I was trying to forget about the waterbed I was walking on by imagining knocking one of them over to steal their boots – I look stronger than her; she probably wears my size; that girl probably wouldn’t even notice if I took her shoes while she’s searching through her bags).
Obviously the best choice for rain-wear is rubber rainboots or galoshes. They’re waterproof (which is the most important) and they usually reach up to the knee so they’re splash-proof too. And they’re usually wide enough that you can tuck your jeans into them to keep them dry until you reach the office. I saw women in innumerable patterns and colors hurrying along the sidewalks – logo brands like Coach, cutsey prints like tiny flamingos or cherries, patterns like plaids or spots and every color of the rainbow. The great thing about rubber rain boots is that now that there are so many variations, you’re almost guaranteed to never see your boot twin. And most rain boots are under $50! I have a pair of Steve Madden rainboots that have tiny black and white skulls printed on them so when you look at them from far away they appear to be plain old checkerboard.
For a new spin, I have been seeing in designer department stores and the runways showing new rain footwear that looks like a cross between an ankle bootie (or shoetie) and a loafer or sneaker. They’re flat rubber shoes (sometimes with leather trim) that cover up most of the top of your foot. So they’re not bulky like rubber rain boots can be but will still keep your feet dry (unlike my ballet flats). I’m glad designers came up with this because these shoes are great when maybe it’s just going to drizzle for part of the day or when it’s wet outside from the night before but not going to rain any more. Definitely keep an eye out. I saw an adorable pair that were seamed bright yellow rubber with a tan colored leather on the upper that tied with tassles – they were like preppy cool but in a there’s no way you could ever mistake me for a nerd kind of way.
Another choice is waterproof leather boots. A lot of people don’t know these exist, and no, I don’t mean just using a waterproofing spray on your existing boots. These boots are actually manufactured with a special process to make them as waterproof as rubber rain boots without looking any different from normal leather boots. This does cause the price to go up quite a bit though, so don’t expect to find this type of boot for less than $200 unless there’s a sale going on. The most common style I’ve seen are riding boot inspired shapes with a buckle across the top of the foot or around the calf.
Regular leather boots can also be worn in the rain and are probably more waterproof than you imagine. Think about where the leather comes from: the cows don’t melt like the wicked witch when they’re alive, do they? But make sure you do take special care of your leather boots if you plan to make them your permanent rain-wear. Weatherproofing sprays are great (make sure to test it first on a less visible area to make sure it doesn’t change the color in any way) and simply wiping down the boots after getting indoors is another good habit to get into. Beware of when the rain turns to snow, however, stains from the salt spread on sidewalks to melt the snow can totally wreck your nice leather boots.
A last rainy day shoe choice you may not have thought of are platform shoes – almost any closed toe type will work as long as the platform extends from the toes to the heel and the platform is at least an inch in the front, 1.5 to 2 inches is better. It’s simple: platforms instantly make you further away from the wet ground so the splashes have to reach higher to get to your feet. This all means you’re more likely to stay dry. Look for rubber soles though, maybe with some traction, if your walking anywhere that could be slippery (wet leaves on the ground, etc). Falling on your face is bad, falling when you’re wearing platforms is worse (further to fall, risk of a sprained ankle, etc) but falling in the rain while wearing platforms is the worst (think wet clothes like a mark of shame long after you’ve regained your composure).
If you can’t live without wearing your ballet flats even after all this though, I understand. Just make sure to bring some extra socks.