Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Winter Shoes on a Budget

Hi Belle,

I’m moving to DC in January and I’ve become addicted to your blog! My biggest concern is what to wear to work in the winter. I’m from Georgia, so I hardly have any winter clothes — I don’t even have a warm coat! The last entry you posted helped a lot, but my biggest concern is work shoes! I’m a student and I’ll be interning on the hill, so my funds are limited and I just don’t know what is appropriate for work and the weather!

Thanks so much, Katie

Polyvore Set Here.

As mentioned in last week’s Cold Weather Essentials post, you need rain boots and fleece socks to do in them.  Aside from that, you need three pairs of shoes: black, heeled tall boots, flat cognac tall boots and patent leather pumps in black.  Every pair in the set is under-$100.

My high-heeled black tall boots are one two to four times per week in the winter.  They’re treated and weatherized, and they have a 2.5″ heel so that they’re comfortable for walking.  They look fabulous with a pencil skirt or a dress.  They’re also good under wide leg pants.  But I love them because they keep my calves warm.

Patent pumps in black are good for the fall to winter transition or any time you need/want to wear bare legs.  I prefer them over leather pumps in the winter because you can wipe off the rain, snow, road salt, etc. that gets on them without paying for a full shine.

My go to casual boot is a flat, cognac, tall boot.  It works with black and it works with brown, so it’s versatile.  They look great over jeans, and they can be worn on Casual Fridays with a denim pencil skirt and navy tights.  Also, I like that this pair has a slight wedge.

No matter which boots you buy, remember to get them shined regularly.  I’ve been negligent in this area, but I’m taking mine to the cobbler in Cannon today.  Leather boots look a bit cheap and worn out when they’re not shined.  Shining costs a few bucks and it looks a million times better.


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  1. MM says:

    I love my leather boots on chilly days b/c I slip a pair of thin wool socks (smartwool ones are good) on inside them – adds both extra padding and warmth so my feet are comfortable and cozy – and no one knows that I'm wearing wool socks to work!

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  2. k-t says:

    along the lines of doing your own nails, shining your own shoes is not that difficult or expensive. I learned from my dad. I have fond memories of him shining his shoes before walking to work in the morning.

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  3. KH says:

    any advice for brands that allow for somewhat larger calves? I currently own both a cognac and black pair of boots – however to wear jeans underneath them is quite a struggle. I can only manage tights, which I still struggle to find matching ones with my cognac boots.


    October 21, 2011/Reply
  4. Nina says:

    Wait, wait, wait! You can use the Cannon cobbler if you don't work for Congress?! I always thought you needed to show a badge!

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  5. Jen says:

    I agree with k-t. Learn to shine your shoes, it's not difficult, and it will save you a few bucks that you could be spending at happy hour!

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  6. Kaylee says:

    KH-I love Jessica Simpson boots. I thought I couldn't wear tall boots because none, including brands that were allegedly made for wide calves (J. Crew wide calf boots, I'm looking at you) would even fit over my calves, let alone fit with jeans or tights underneath. I bought two pairs of Jessica Simpson ones two years ago and have been happy ever since. They have held up wonderfully, as well! They are a little pricier than the options Belle gives here, but, at around $175, not too expensive.

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  7. Caro says:

    Belle, any suggestions for weatherizing leather boots? I'm scared to wear mine when it's rainy out.

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  8. Belle says:

    k-t and Jen-I know how to shine my shoes, but I don't like too. I like the lady at Cannon cobbler a lot so, I just go to her.

    Nina-Yes, you can go to Cannon. I do it all the time.

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  9. love it says:

    i weatherize by using almost a whole spray can of waterproof shoe spray for a pair of tall boots. they sell them at the counter at dsw and other shoe stores…

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  10. Amy says:

    Just FYI, many people, especially in a conservative city like DC, still follow the rule that patent leather is a summer material and shouldn't be worn in winter. I've heard people make comments about it at the office. Depending on where you work and how conservative your boss is, you may not want to buy patent leather for winter until you're sure it won't be looked down on by people who matter in your profession.

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  11. Chloe says:

    Belle, I'm a new fan of your blog … and seriously in love with those Cognac boots. They will be mine by tonight. Any word (if you have?) if they fit true to size or a little snug/big?

    October 21, 2011/Reply
  12. KH says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for your honest and on-point advice this week!

    October 22, 2011/Reply
  13. GingerR says:

    We have lots of interns and recent grads in my office and I see plenty of flat shoes.

    Flats from Target will do. It will be wet and slushy a lot in the winter. You probably won't be driving to work and just getting in and out of a car, so have good warm shoes for your commute.

    Black patent flats or mid-heels are very professional looking and will be comfortable when you get displatched to escort visitors from the desk or walk down to the cafeteria for lunch.

    There are plenty of shopping opportunities once you get here so don't buy a lot ahead of time.
    The blogger at “What Would a Nerd Wear” is in DC this semester and while she isn't ultra dressy she does look a lot like what we see around.

    October 22, 2011/Reply