This Little Piggy is Nice and Cozy: 5 Substitutes for Boots

By Tamara Jane and Donna Lee Schillinger

There are lots of fashion reasons to look forward to winter; chief among them is that it’s boot season! Just one problem: I don’t own a pair of boots. And for divas on a budget, boots can be a tough fit. There’s an element of necessity here, particularly for those of us who live in snowy climates, but if there’s just no eeking enough out of the budget to buy them – and you’re not getting any for Christmas – don’t despair. I’ve got five solutions to make your fairer-weather footwear in to winter wear without looking like you had no other option.

Leggings
Each year for the last few, leggings seem to be picking up pace in winter fashions. If you don’t have a pair yet, it’s time to invest. Laundered by hand, leggings will last several winters. Wear them with pants for extra insulation or with dresses, skirts or winter shorts.
New this year from leading legging manufacturer, Hue, is corduroy leggings; but I’m not even going to provide a link because they’re outrageously priced at $34 a pair. Just buy some pants, for Pete’s sake! However, I feel confident that lesser known legging companies will soon take the nod and start to produce budget corduroy leggings. So keep an eye out for these in your favorite bargain department store. However, before you buy an inexpensive pair of corduroy or other leggings, give them a lint test. If they’re magnets for lint, they’re not worth the trouble.

Fuzzy Socks
Because who doesn’t love fuzzy socks? Not only are they cute and feel great, but they keep your feet warm. If you’re not a fuzzy sock enthusiast, it’s probably because you’re remembering that one year your grandmother gave them to you. Any geek factor they once had has been cancelled out by their irresistible coziness!
There is a wide range of quality and prices in fuzzy socks, and generally, you get what you pay for. Two dollars sounds like a great price, but don’t be surprised to find them disintegrating after a few washings. However, I would not recommend paying more than $4 a pair, which can get a good quality sock on sale at a reputable department store. And if I would not recommend paying more than $4 a pair, you can imagine how I feel about this lunacy: three socks that don’t match for $14. That “deal” comes from none other than LittleMissMatched.com, hyperlink to which I’m including only because of how quirky it is.
Probably the best thing about fuzzy (toe) socks is that they can transform flip-flops into winter shoes – a great way to save money on winter shoes and make a unique fashion statement. But, alas, there are some occasions, like work (yawn), where fuzzy socks might be frowned upon. And for those occasions, there’s…

Casual Flats with Socks
It’s easy to find cool dress socks at 50% off before the holidays, so if you don’t have a sock connection for Christmas, this is the time to stock up. If you can keep the washer from eating them, dress socks can last five or more years before they wear thin, so spring for the socks you really love. Dress socks with your fall flats go well with long jeans, a nice shirt, scarf and jacket.

Formal flats with Double Duty Stockings
Job interview, formal meal, party or special church service? Girl, it’s cold out and you do not want to go au naturel on the legs. Besides being uncomfortable, there is something just plain tacky about bare legs for winter formal, which is why every young woman (who ever has a formal winter occasion) needs to own some hosiery. If you like leggings, you can tolerate pantyhose, but if you get claustrophobic just thinking about that extra layer around your waist, go with thigh highs. Wash them by hand to keep the gummy grips from wearing out (because hose that slip down your thighs are an unusual kind of torture). Hosiery gives winter legs a polished look and helps to keep them warm, but they don’t do much for keeping feet warm. So double up with a pair of low-cut, no-show socks. Inexpensive varieties are available in your local WalMart.

House Shoes
My house has all tile floors – a real challenge to keep feet warm in winter. So on my stay-at-home-days in winter, it’s all house shoes, all day. This is one pair of winter shoes you can probably afford. Not only are they an easy item to find in thrift stores (I’ve even found them never used in second-hand stores), they are relatively inexpensive in bargain stores like Family Dollar, Dollar General , Fred’s and others. Who cares what they look like, you’re at home! Your housemates have seen you on your nastiest days, so adding house shoes surely won’t shock them. Besides, this is a matter of priorities and staying warm trumps looking good, even for a fashion diva.

Better to keep the tootsies warm now, than to catch a cold later and have to blow your nose in public for two weeks! So be sensible with warm socks and shoes that don’t require a line-item in the budget.

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