All the young punks: On boots past, present, and metaphorical.

By | December 22, 2010

My purple suede Docs

I don't wear these so much as I sit and admire them. Like art.

I bought my first pair of boots when I was fourteen, at a shop called The Wild Pair in the Palm Beach Mall. I’d been reading Sassy magazine for a couple years at this point, and their fondness for a particular English boot manufacturer had always intrigued me. The style was cutting edge, at the time. Pairing heavy black boots with floral dresses looked utterly bizarre to the untrained eye, but I liked the result. It was tough and unexpected; it was discomfiting. It may come as a total non-surprise to some, but even then I was interested in the idea of dressing oneself to challenge convention, rather than to fit in.

Of course, being fourteen, the fabled Dr. Martens were far out of my financial reach. I did not have a hundred dollars of my own to spend on them, and I couldn’t even fathom asking a parent to do so. Who spends that kind of money on shoes? I wondered. And unfortunately, Docs were not yet popular enough to find cheap knockoff versions at Payless. I’ve always had a thing for shoes, though, and The Wild Pair was a favorite shop because they carried the slightly out-there styles I was most interested in. And they had a clearance wall.

It was there that I found them: black 10-eyelet steel-toed Dr. Martens in fine haircell leather. There was only one pair, and it was in my size. The price tag stickered to the sole of the left boot, Sharpied all over with deductions and sale prices, settled on twenty dollars as the boots’ current cost. I need to impress upon you, here, that Dr. Martens boots simply did not go on sale at the time — they were nearly impossible to find at all in the shoe stores of South Florida to which I had access. So while I would have preferred the classic smooth leather to the haircell texture, I leapt upon the opportunity that fate had so kindly laid in my path. This would mark only the first in a series of future experiences in which I would find a single pair of Docs in my size and on sale, but I could not have known that then. I had them. Finally. I had them.

I did not wear the floral dresses at fourteen, so I pulled on my docs with jeans and t-shirts and wore them every minute I could. I went to Catholic high school, which meant uniforms, which meant I did not wear them to school. While I wasn’t aware of any specific prohibition in the dress code, I knew wearing them would mean drawing a dangerous amount of attention — it would mean becoming a target. Nobody was wearing these boots, you understand. They were big black monsters that looked totally unlike the trends of the day. I was scared. So I wore them in my own time but never, ever to school.

Well, once, to school.

There were certain circumstances under which we were allowed to wear our own clothes to school. One of these circumstances was the day on which I was due to be photographed with the rest of the National Merit Semi-Finalists for the yearbook. Sure, we had to dress up, but still, a day in school uniform-free was a welcome change. I’d worn a floral dress in a mottled print of pinks and purples and blacks, and — brazenly — my Dr. Martens boots, which by this time were several years old and beat to hell, the steel toes covered in scuffs and scratches. Somehow, in my head, I thought this would be okay, because I was out of uniform. I might have suspected trouble brewing when my much-beloved Latin teacher laughed good-naturedly at my footwear and announced, “When I was a girl, one of our favorite insults was to say ‘Your mother wears combat boots!’” But she seemed unfazed once the initial surprise wore off, and I didn’t worry.

Around mid-morning, we gathered outside for our photograph. Mr. Heller — and that is his real name, which I am using because he was a rank asshole — was the assistant principal. He was present to oversee the photograph, which was evidently important business. Mr. Heller took one look at my boots and exclaimed with unrestrained horror and rage: “What is that?”

“…. Those are my boots.”

He was apoplectic. His face got redder and redder as he stared at my feet. Given his intense reaction, you would think my boots were unholy abominations made from the flesh of aborted fetuses, the soles stitched into place by Satan himself. Mr Heller hemmed and hawed for ages over whether I should be allowed to even be in the photograph — which, for the record, I wasn’t all that jazzed about anyway. It held up the whole process for far longer than a simple group picture should have required. Finally, after another faculty member suggested my National Merit status was not compromised by my choice of footwear, he bellowed for me to stand in the back. All the way in the back. He instructed the photographer: “Make sure you can’t see her shoes.” In the resulting yearbook photo, I am a levitating head behind my National Merit comrades.

Once the picture was done, Mr. Heller barked at me: “You need to go home and change.”

I was a good kid, and an outstanding student. I really never got into serious trouble, not at school and not elsewhere. So I was startled and a little scared by this instruction, even though Mr. Heller’s reaction seemed out of proportion. But as I walked through the parking lot to my car in the middle of the school day, I began to feel more anger than fear. The drive home took 30 to 40 minutes each way. This boot-fearing fuckwit was demanding I miss classes to change my damn shoes.

When I got home, my father was there, and was quite surprised to see me. “What are you doing home so early?” he inquired.

“Mr. Heller sent me home to change my shoes.”

My father was astonished. “He made you come home because of your shoes?”

“Yes.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

Yes, it was. But it was a valuable first lesson in the power of style. I suddenly saw that there was a lot of potential force in my sartorial choices for fucking shit up.

I bought my second pair of Docs in Boston, immediately before beginning my freshman year at Boston University. They were a little different, even for Docs, and featured a soft weathered black leather and closely-set eyelets running nearly to the toes. I never owned a pair of the punk-uniform 1460 8-eyelet boots in black or cherry red; the boots I chose always had something unique about them. I did learn quickly from scene-knowledgeable friends that there was a proper way to lace one’s boots. My habit of leaving the top eyelet of my old steel-toes unlaced was anathema. Boots were to be laced horizontally, all the way to the top, the edges pulled completely closed over the tongue. This was a clear subcultural signifier — to the untrained eye they looked like little more than tightly-laced boots, but to a knowing observer they announced one’s allegiances and social/musical/political interests loud and clear. Lace color was an important factor for further communication, though colors and meanings have regional — and I’m sure international — variations. I learned that red laces signaled Nazi skinheads, so I avoided red-laces-wearers. White could mean “white power”, but may also be worn by SHARPs so one could not assume racism on this fact alone. Blue signaled straight edge. Yellow might label an anarchist, but then again, so might red. Wearing the black included laces was the safest course if you did not want to get too embroiled in politics. It wasn’t so much that there was ever a strict code of colors as there were vague correlations. An underground language of boots, with multitudes of divergent dialects. Though the precise meaning may be unclear, the overall expression of boot-wearing was an effort to fuck with the status quo.

In college I explored other Statement Boots beyond Docs. I had Undergounds, and Gripfasts, and Fluevogs, and New Rocks, and Swears. I had a lot of boots. In retrospect, I’m actually a little shocked at how many boots I had. In part, I invested so much in my boots because my shoe size gave me access to an incredible array of outrageous styles, while my clothing size led to a lot of closed doors when it came to outrageous clothing.

But there was more to it than that.

In my sophomore year of college I visited an old friend and assisted as she bought her first pair of Docs. At the store, she laced them up and stood, taking a few stiff, tenative steps. Then she said, with some degree of surprise, “I feel… powerful!” I’ve had this same conversation with uncountable fellow boot-aficionadi over my life, and the first time you put them on, the sensation is overwhelming. Heavy statement-making boots, like the famous Dr. Martens, very often do make us feel powerful; they make us feel strong, even a little invincible. While I enjoy a good totter in high heels on occasion, there is also something to be said for wearing shoes that announce you are not one to be fucked with, oh no. I am not someone you want to fuck with.

As the years passed, I eventually sold nearly all of my boots on eBay. I kept some for nostalgic reasons — a pair of bright green 10-eye steel-toed Docs, which I bought in Little Five Points whilst visiting an old friend in Atlanta when I was nineteen. The same pair in purple, for which I scoured eBay for years and finally procured in lightly-used condition. Another pair of purple Docs, pictured at the top of this post: 8-eyelets in rich suede, made by Na Na in the early nineties, back when Na Na was collaborating with Dr. Martens. I don’t much wear these old boots anymore — I keep them as portals to my past. In every scuff and crease there are stories, experiences, places, people. They were present at all of the important events of a certain stretch of my life. They are scrapbooks in shoe form.

I’ve recently bought a couple new pairs of Docs on sale; I miss the look, and they’re good for bad weather. One of my purchases was a pair of the classic 1460s in smooth black leather, once so unthinkably bizarre, even frightening, and now a style tradition worn by all sorts of people. Wearing them again over the past few weeks has reminded me of all the above — and of how I rarely feel so capable and so comfortable as when I am wearing my boots, and not just because of their physical characteristics, but because of what they represent to me, in my life. They represent my commitment to being ferociously and unapologetically myself.

So this is my nondenominational holiday gift to you, my beloved readers: I’m giving you boots.

Yes, the boots are a metaphor. But do hear me out.

I’m giving you these boots, and I want you to put them on and feel secure and strong and tough. I want you to wear them for the purposes of stomping the shit out of the pressure and anxiety you may feel for failing to look however people think you should look, or for failing to behave in whatever way people think you should behave. These boots are specially designed to destroy the sad feelings and self loathing brought on by a rude comment, and they resist the internalization of cultural messages about what is normal. These are boots that immunize you against taking shit from anyone; these are boots that turn you into someone who is not to be fucked with. These are your Boots of Total Fucking Badassery, and they give you +50 against body fascism and arbitrary beauty standards.

There will be a break-in period. It will take time, longer than you expect. You’re certainly going to blister. You may even bleed. And you’ll have to keep putting them back on, every day, over the blisters and raw skin, and soldier forward. But your sacrifice will have its reward, because eventually you’ll be wearing boots that fit you perfectly; they will never fit anyone else quite the same, because you will have shaped them to your unique needs. And you’ll wear them and you’ll be — ferociously, unapologetically — yourself, without worrying about what other people think of you, and without letting your fears or insecurities hold you back.

Happy holidays, my loves.


50 Comments

Nyssa23 on December 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm.

Yay! These metaphorical boots are just what I need right now. Thank you! :D

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Nomie on December 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm.

I am in fact wearing my 8-hole black Docs today, and they do in fact make me feel like a force to be reckoned with. This is an excellent post and an awesome gift. Thank you. <3

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Cheryl on December 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm.

Boots of Total Fucking Badassery. I love it. Thanks. :)

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Awlbiste on December 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm.

I had these exact pair: http://www.drmartens.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=10113001 throughout high school and after. I miss them acutely now. For some reason (if only I could turn back time) I decided I didn’t want them anymore and they went with a pile of old clothes to Goodwill. I hope they found an appreciative home and live on.

I wore them often with black dresses and black tights or with black pants tucked in. Oh yes, tucked in black pants to 14-eye Docs, I was such a goth. But I really did always feel like I was capable of kicking some serious metaphorical ass whenever I wore them.

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Lesley on December 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm.

TUCKED IN BLACK PANTS TO 14-EYE DOCS. I knew so many folks who did this. Adorable.

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clownremover on December 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm.

“These boots are made for walkin’/and that’s just what they’ll do/one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you”

Happy Holidays!

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Meggie on December 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm.

This is just what I needed to read. I’ve had a very bad day full of self doubt and a touch of self-hate.
I love you, Lesley. Please keep on being you. :)

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notblueatall on December 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm.

Fuck yeah! Doc love! You described even my 14 year old self, to a T! Thank you for this! *nostalgic swoon*

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TropicalChrome on December 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm.

Oh, for a pair of purple boots.

Docs are not really my style, but for purple suede, I would find a way to make them work. I need more purple suede in my life.

I do have a pair of boots. They’re dressy black pleather ankle boots (pleather’s come a LONG way, baby, these things stretch and breathe and I would swear they were leather if I didn’t know for sure they’re not) with a 3″ stacked heel. And when I put them on I am ME. They are as comfortable as a 3″ heel can be because they are balanced for my foot and my gait (and you know, it’s a lot more comfortable than people tried to tell me). I walk with authority in them. They are my Bitch Boots.

Which all fits right in with your metaphor. Find your boots and own them because they’re yours. Don’t let anyone else tell you what your boots have to be like.

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Lesley on December 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm.

I dig this addition! Thanks for making it.

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Christine on December 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm.

You know, I am a couple years younger than you, and I never did achieve my gothy Doc Martensed dreams and never bought a pair. I’ve moved on to Fryes…usually flat, but they don’t have the same sort of image now do they.

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Lesley on December 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm.

Oh, Fryes are gorgeous, though. And just as badass!

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Rose Campion on December 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm.

yes. I totally feel badass in my Frye harness boots. Doc’s didn’t do much for me, but I was already in my 20s by the time the whole Doc’s and floral dress thing happened. But my Frye boots make me feel like I’m a whole foot taller and ready to open up a can of whoop ass.

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raven_feathers on December 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm.

this was very timely and resonated nicely.

i chickened out as a young ‘un and traded in my great covetousness for a pair of trillion eyelet boots for a quiet, clunky pair of DM mary janes. good shoes, yes, but not boots. i’m nearly 40 now and i’m saying what i mean, i’m meaning what i say, and i’m wearing my first pair of boots, probably my only-ever pair, thanks to the generosity of a good online friend with a zappos credit to burn. it’s a nearly transcendent feeling, that boot feeling, and while i’m not a shoe person ever, at all, some dark days, that powerful feeling a strong, fierce pair of fuck-off boots is what gets me through.

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Meredith on December 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm.

I remember those first boots. ;)

And you are aware that Mr. Heller had to resign after he got busted doing inappropriate things with a 16-year-old boy, are you not?

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Lesley on December 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm.

HAHAHA, I am aware, in fact! He was such a bastard!

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CraftyLuna on December 22, 2010 at 3:25 pm.

I’m an Atlantan, I bought my first pair of Docs at Abbadabba’s in Little Five Points, with Hanukkah money from my Grandmother. I wore them all the time for a couple of years, until like an idiot I sold them for beer money for me and my friends. This article really made me miss them, I should buy some more. They have several varieties discounted at 6pm.com, by the way. No, I don’t work for them. :)

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the_girl on December 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm.

:sigh:

ive ALWAYS admired the people/culture that were represented by docs. but never really became involved.

sidenote: the palm beach mall is on its last legs. so many memories.

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Lesley on December 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm.

Regarding the Palm Beach Mall: I KNOW. It’s so sad. I practically lived there as a teen.

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Sarah Neely on December 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm.

Thank you for this post and for your blog. Makes things better for sure.

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Cat on December 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm.

I heart this post. I have sitting right behind me in my office at work my Alan II boots with a fruit pattern on them, black background. I have been scouring Google Images to see if I could find a link, but can’t. I believe that these are the singularly most fantastic boots ever. And they made me feel unique and offbeat. The best thing about them is that they are the first gift that my husband (then boyfriend) bought me. They were a Valentines gift. He heard me mention them and how much I wanted them, and that I was saving up money to get them. No Joke, not kidding, he went into Manhattan during a snowstorm to get them for me. It was the greatest surprise ever! And although they no longer fit, I treasure them.

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Chutti on December 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm.

Awwwww!!!!
I was appropriately respectful in the moment of silence for the good boots, but even more pleased to see you throw them a proper wake.

damn! I had the same purple nanas…..dearly bought on Haight St in SF as a poor student. My uniform for nearly ten years was some form of colored docs, an old-lady nylon shift dress and/or colored slip, extremely holey tights, and some form of crazy old lady pill box hat. The purple suede were by far the best, but the silver mylar and the forest green were good too.
What was I thinking to let them go? Why, oh why do I hike in boring but utilitarian Timberlands?

You have nailed it. The power and freedom that proper boots bring is unmatchable. I need to find a way to bring some color back to the utilitarian boot preference. I suspect there is some shopping in my future.

Thanks for framing this ( as you so often do) in a way that makes more sense. Let the badassery begin!

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elly on December 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm.

Fuck yes, Lesley.

My boot closet is my personal cave of power.

There is nothing like the sound of stomping leather boots.

Nothing.

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Eryn on December 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm.

“My boot closet is my personal cave of power.”
YESSSSSS!!!

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Cayora on December 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm.

Boots. I love them. I wore my knee high black Docs today, despite the fact that they are too big for me. I love them with all my soul, even though they have literally given me scars. I remember my first pair of boots, which were not Docs, but looked like them, and how sad I was when I walked them to death.

A good pair of boots can make you feel like you can punch out the world and argue God to a standstill. I just got a new pair of giant platform boots with buckles up the legs that make me feel ten feet tall.

I do like the idea of absorbing the boots, as it were, so you have the advantage of them even when they are at home. I don’t think I’ve managed it yet, though. I guess I’ll have to keep buying them. I can live with that.

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Lydia on December 23, 2010 at 12:09 am.

I too was a lover of the fabled Dr Marten’s from a young age. I come from a hick town in rural Australia, and at the age of 14 – the time when I first discovered them – there was no-one else into them. This was a fact of which I was particularly proud. I liked the idea that only I was into them. I didn’t wear them to feel powerful or to defy conventional norms of dressing, I wore them because I liked them and because they were just plain cool.
I haven’t worn a pair for years, and I probably never will wear them again, but I can’t bear to part with my 8 hold tartans which I absolutely adored during high school. I never did get the 10 hold cherry reds I lusted after for five years, but I did get a 12 hole silver pair. When I wore them, I felt like Superwoman.

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Kath on December 23, 2010 at 6:17 am.

I remember my first pair of Docs. The classic black 8 hole 1460s. I remember the swagger I walked with for the first few weeks, while I got used to their heavy weight. And I remember how SAFE I felt in them. I wore those babies until they literally fell apart, crumbling around the soldering wire I’d used to hold chunks of them together.

I got another pair, and wore those into the ground too. Then I got a pair in cherry red… they were stolen from me before they even reached deeply creased.

When I saw Marianne’s gold ones a while back, I realised I really want Docs again. I want that strong, capable, safe feeling they give me. I want to know I have one pair of boots that I can put on at any given time and know that my feet won’t hurt, will be dry and safe, and that I can trudge over any terrain without slipping.

Docs are ridiculously expensive here. I think I’ll have to wait until I go back to the US to get a pair.

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TracyL on December 23, 2010 at 9:09 am.

I bought my only pair of Docs as my very first Christmas present to myself. I was surprised at how heavy they were but man, did I feel awesome when I wore them. I just now went to look for them and, um, sad face, they are no longer in my wardrobe which means at some point while moving house at the beginning of this year I decided to donate them (along with other old clothes and shoes) in an effort to have less crap to pack and move.
Only I can’t imagine WHY I would give away my Docs because I have always been so proud of them. They represented my first few steps in growing up and being a self-supporting adult.
Actually now I’m not so sure I did give them away (and the boyfriend says he doesn’t remember me giving them away either). Hmm. Okay, gotta go, bye!

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Willow on December 23, 2010 at 11:00 am.

I LONGED for Doc Martens when I was younger, but my parents never had the money to get them for me, and by the time I was old enough to get them for myself, I still hadn’t gotten over my extreme shyness and aversion to attention. Reading this lovely post, however, I feel … empowered … to find myself a pair of Doc Martens and finally … finally … wear the boots I so wanted, so long ago.

And happy holidays to you, too. :) BTW, you never did tell us what you wore to the feminist gala!

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noreen on December 23, 2010 at 11:13 am.

Oh, my roommate had a pair of english motorcycle boots with steel plates on the heels that just fit me. I borrowed them often. Black floral short dress (the first dress over my knee that I dared to wear) with big black boots that trailed sparks when I scuffed them on the sidewalk. When he moved out, I missed the boots just a little more than I missed him. I still dream about finding another pair. Those boots weighed a ton, but I felt like I was walking on air in them.

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George Grey on December 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm.

You’re such a delight, Lesley!

Personally, my stomping, 12 hole boots feel affirmatively gender queer. I’ve worn them most days for three years, and they feel like a spark of something resilient, particularly when I’m feeling beaten down.

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Janee' on December 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm.

I bought my first pair of Docs when I was a freshman in HS. I saved a huge portion of my babysitting money from the summer to buy them . My big brother gave me a ride to Portland and I remember sticking my feet out the window on the way back home just staring at the purple glories on my feet. Lots of people in Portland had them and there was already a Docs store but not many people in my little town dared wear them. I had those suckers strapped to my feet for at least 2 years solidly. I think I’ll strap on my black pair tonight. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

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Karen on December 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm.

Hey the picture of the dark purple suede Docs, do you have a link to where I can buy them or some info? I can only find some ugly light purple ones on the site. I MUST know where I can get em!!!!! I’m in love!!

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JonelB on December 24, 2010 at 2:50 am.

I got my first pair of docs this summer.
They’re….8-hole? I didn’t even pay attention, they’re the style I wanted, the look I wanted, and sadly I’ve only worn them once because mostly what I have is bootcut pants.

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thirtiesgirl on December 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm.

What an asshole teacher! I’ve worked in public education for 10 years and have seen some SERIOUSLY questionable outfits worn by high school girls – skirts and shorts that barely (and I do mean BARELY) cover bum cheeks; too tight, low cut t-shirts that leave very little to the imagination; and clothes that are so see-through, you don’t need to guess what kind of underwear they’re wearing. THOSE girls need to be sent home so their parents can see what they left the house wearing (invariably always hidden under a baggy sweatshirt until they get to school). But boots and a dress?!? Seriously? I would have whipped out a pic of Exene Cervenka from 1982 and told him to “get a fashionable clue, dude.” What a dick.

Re: Docs… I grew up in the ’80s, and was in high school in the early ’80s, when a lot of punks, straightedge and hardcore kids were wearing Docs. In my suburban, touristy, coastal town in SoCal, though, there were very few kids who actually wore Docs at my high school. I can recall the number of kids who wore them on one hand. Even among the goths, who were the kids I hung out with (or tried to hang out with) the most, the girls didn’t wear Docs, but wore granny/dolly boots (lace-up hobnail boots). Most of the kids at my high school were surfers, preps or trend-following kids (i.e., baggy Esprit sweatshirts with asymmetrical hems, white capris and Topsiders), and the desire to stand out was not looked on with any positivity. Which is why there were so few punk kids in Docs. …Well, that and the fact that there weren’t any stores in my hometown that sold them. If you wanted Docs, or anything that looked like them, you needed to make a 2 hour drive south to Melrose in Los Angeles. And not a lot of high school kids had the ability to do that, even if they did drive.

When I was in college in the ’90s, however, suddenly Docs were everywhere. Grunge style hit BIG TIME in my hometown and suddenly almost every college kid adopted the same uniform. Boys: oversized flannel shirt over a baggy band t-shirt, baggy twill or denim shorts, and Docs (most often only partially laced, tongue out, and sloppy). Girls: oversized flannel shirt over a girly-fit band t-shirt, cut off denim shorts (usually just a little below Daisy Duke length), black tights or sometimes long thermal undies, and Docs – usually only partially laced, like the guys’. EVERYONE wore Docs.

It was especially bad at the college radio station where I worked. I swear, I was the only DJ there who DIDN’T have them. And I made a conscious effort NOT to buy them. I bought monkey boots instead. I even went so far as to avoid the standard black monkey boots, but bought brown and white ones, which I loved for their mod/Clockwork Orange-ish style. Yeah, I had to buy them in men’s sizes (they only made black monkey boots in women’s sizes), but I loved having something unique that no one else had. I also loved the fact that they were boots, which was de rigueur in the grunge ’90s, but they weren’t like the boots that everyone else was wearing.

I guess it depends on what part of the country you lived in during the ’90s. In my neck of the woods, Docs were not really seen a way to send a message through one’s clothing. It was just the fashionable thing that *everyone* was wearing, without a lot of thought about the message they could send. Which is why I chose a different path and specifically chose boots that were different from the norm, because I wanted to deviate from what I saw as mindless groupthink about an item of clothing that has such a storied past and has meant some very specific things to different groups of people.

I think it’s funny now that Doc is bringing back the monkey boot style. The last time I looked on the Doc Marten website, I noticed several women’s boots that are modeled on the monkey boot shape. They don’t have the flatter, yet ridged monkey boot sole that made the original monkeys so unique. But the boot shape is there for those who want to relive the retro style. …Madness, they call it madness…

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Eryn on December 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm.

Lesley, your words ring true when my own fail me! Every time I pull on my pair of rough-ass Frye boots, I will think of this …”there is also something to be said for wearing shoes that announce you are not one to be fucked with, oh no. I am not someone you want to fuck with.”

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Kaylin on December 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm.

Lately, I have had difficulty building my armor back up each morning. So thank you for this post, its a good reminder for me to keep on staying true.

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Cameryn Moore on December 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm.

Boots. Hell, yeah. Everyone needs some, or whatever the sartorial equivalent may be for them. Mine are cowboy boots, well worn, resoled over and over, dull with the scuffs of countless road trips. They are shit kickers. Unlike Doc Martens, whose soles have a certain amount of stealth built into them, my boots are loud. That’s okay, too. I want people to hear me coming, to hear the strength of my stride from a mile away, and experience a little shiver of fear/anticipation. Then when I show up with my racktastic dress and pack-a-punch lipstick, they only have a few seconds in which to revise their previously held views on femininity and fashion and fatties. Keeps people on their toes.

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eli on December 26, 2010 at 6:32 am.

My first pair of Docs were from some random shop in Dublin. They were on sale, and only labelled “air wair”, so I didn’t realise they were Docs. I just got them because they were navy blue.

I wore the hell out of those boots.

My current pair I’ve had for about five years or so. I searched up and down Sydney for a pair of white 8 holes, and finally found them. And I’ve not worn them that often. This entry is going to make me dust them off and strap them on, especially when it stops being so freaking hot here.

I could use some attitude.

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Frances on December 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm.

I got my first pair of boots – the 1460 8-eyelet boots in black – when I was 15. I negotiated the terms of their purchase with my dad; we would go halfsies, and I would pay him back my share in $5 installments every week.

God, I LOVED those boots. I went to a selective high school with a reasonably strict uniform policy, but since these boots were the regulation ‘black leather lace-up shoes’ I wore them to school. Every single day. They toughed up my blue tartan school skirt and light blue school blouse with the peter pan collar. They made me feel powerful and strong and more like myself.

I still have them. The sole has been worn completely smooth, the inside has taken on a strange smell and the leather has become so soft that they cling too close to my ankles when I lace them up. But I can’t bear to throw them away.

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J on December 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm.

This post made me remember how much I too loved the Doc’s I bought when I was 14. They made me feel more like me, somehow. More powerful, more awesome.

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Nikidy on December 28, 2010 at 2:08 am.

fuck, yes, this, all of this.
I am a Doc fiend, a whore of boots, they are my soul incarnate. I never had them until later in high school, before then it was cheap platformy-boots and giant baggy metal tshirts – i can almost pinpoint the exact moment of change from “i hate myself” to “i’m fucking queen of the world” to when i got my red 14 hole cherry reds in a trade with my (idol) friend for a pair of blue flame chucks i had. They aren’t my favourite pair, but i’m pretty sure they were my first… but i’ve always had a love for the boots.
I currently wear a tan pair of Docs with a canvas fold-over at the top and exposed rivets and a buckle; i have never seen them anywhere else and they needed no breaking in whatsoever – they are my soul in physical form. they are me, completely, and i’m always getting enamoured stares from people – “How do you manage to make everything look so good with them?” (i wear them with everything from demin skirts to evening wear and rock the fucking house) “They are so *you*!” (because they are me, duh…).
I own other pairs of docs, and find it hard to resist them – i have the standard black, the cherrys from HS, my darling pinks (not patents, the original painted leather ones), and once had the elusive grape-rub-off ones… and i’m always looking for more. They’re harder to find, now, gone are the days when i could go and find them for $20 at the pawn shop, but i still look, because really my boots have been my salvation – they are everything to me. Even the fiance knows better to argue when a new pair of Docs walk in the door; they are not a purchase, they are my sanity.
So yes. all of this. I will wear these boots until the end of days, and i shall rejoice, because in them, i am me.

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Dani on December 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm.

God, this totally brought me back to highschool.

I was so *proud* of my Docs — my mom an I didn’t have all that much money when I was growing up, but she knew how much I loved those boots, and went out of her way to made sure I had a pair. And then another. I sadly had to retire my beloved purple pair (not the gorgeous suede version you have there, but the recently released violet ones) last year, as well as my green ones — but I still don my basic black eight-eyes, especially with skirts and dresses.

I don’t, to this day, know what sort of statement I was trying to make with them. But damn if I didn’t live in the things.

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Sarah on December 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm.

After lusting after them all through college, and at the age of 39, I finally bought my first pair of Docs, in lavender, 16 hole. I love them! And they are part of my accepting me as me in my own fat glory path. I have gotten so many compliments on them. They make me happy.

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Z. on December 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm.

Ah, this is great. I got my first pair of Docs in high school, too. After saving forever, I scrounged up enough money to drive an hour from my very small town to a boot shop in Erie, PA to special order them – knee high, 20 eye smooth black leather boots of AWESOME. They arrived a couple of weeks later, and then it took a couple of months of hobbling around with bleeding blisters while my parents looked at me like I was crazy before they broke in and became the most comfortable boots I’ve ever owned (aside from the 3 inch heel knee high boots from Sofft that I got a couple of years ago, those are like wearing slippers). I wore them with EVERYTHING, but my favorite outfits involved floor length skirts with knee high slits on the sides & cobweb tights.

Being the only Goth kid within a 50 mile or more radius, I was also the only kid with a pair of Docs, let alone the 20i knee-high suckers, but I felt like such a badass in them that it helped me not care how much I was harassed for being the Lone Goth Ranger.

The bit about the colored laces made me laugh, though, too, because I remember many years ago, I walked into the living room where my then boyfriend was industriously relacing his combat boots with white sneaker laces. I asked what he was doing, and he said his boot laces broke, and these were all he could find – I told him he could NOT wear white laces in his boots like that, unless he’d somehow decided he was a skinhead when I wasn’t paying attention, and then he was horrified he’d forgotten that’s what white laces stand for. I’m glad I caught him before he went out of the house like that, though, because he’d also recently shaved his head after finally admitting that the “cowlick” on the back of his skull was actually a bald spot, and the boot laces thing would definitely have been sending the wrong message on top of that.

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Stef on December 31, 2010 at 10:25 am.

I bought a pair of Docs and how I love the way they look but strangely although they are supposed to be unisex my UK size 9 wide feet hate them. The bit at the bottom of the laces cuts into my feet so bad. But since I don’t want to miss out on DMs comfort completely I am going to buy some of the slip on Chelsea boots and a pair of New Rocks are on my too buy list (after finally picking which pair XD)

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Arwen on January 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm.

Ah! I couldn’t ever afford Doc Martens, but I got my pacifist butt down to the Army Surplus and bought myself a pair of steel-toed parade boots, which did just as well. I wore those suckers every day for years until one day, I learned that indeed one should take better care of one’s boots, because the leather froze solid; where I could yank it open, it cracked and crumbled. The night before I’d been walking in slush and salt: they could go no farther.

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Allie on January 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm.

It was my 24th birthday on the 31st and for it my very good friend bought me a pair of sella boots. They’re knee high with laces, buckles and HUGE platform soles. I love high shoes but often feel rather silly in them with my larger than average feet and height to match but these boots….. When I walk it’s like the pavement weeps and yells “I SUBMIT!”.
I’m about 6’4″ in my beautiful black boots but I might as well be headbutting the moon for how poweful and wonderful they make me feel. Great post. Thank you!

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Morgan on January 7, 2011 at 12:21 am.

I loved this piece particularly because it really struck home to me; I know maybe my own relative experiences aren’t exactly alike or in the same context but they still meant something to me…
See, when I was in high school I was an ‘outcast’ and I was never part of a redeeming Breakfast-Club-Esque group either *shrugs* that’s just the way it was back then. So when I started to try and suss myself out, I got myself into a few seemingly controversial tangles; at fourteen, I was trying to make sense of my sexuality, I’m very mercurial and have always had a little trouble balancing my masculinity and femininity. I stuck out as a bit unconventional and also because I was the shortest girl in my year and chubbier to boot (a UK size 14/16 – so smaller than I am now). I drew some negative attention but one day I was feeling brave so I tried something different, something for me. At my school, we had a dress code but no strict uniform so all the girls had amongst themselves, as if they had some sort of unwritten code, started wearing skirts to school with a shirt and tie, whilst all the boys were wearing black jeans with a shirt, tie and jumper on top so I decided to split between the two and go for a pinafore to compromise. Explanation: I didn’t want to wear a skirt like the girls because I felt more exposed when uncomfortably faking femininity, as if I was trying to be like them and embarrassingly failing, and I didn’t want to dress like the boys, just to have alternative judgements made about that. So that day when I arrived at school, it caused more ripples than I’d even considered, people murmured and stage whispered, I’d underestimated how much I’d stick out when all I’d wanted to do was blend in even more. But what confused me most at the time and has really stuck with me until this day, was the reaction of my registration teacher – She sent me home to change straight away but wouldn’t explain why, other than to tell me I was wearing the wrong thing. Thankfully my Mum brought me back to school saying I shouldn’t have to change if I was dressed smartly and was adhering to the dress code; to my parents my reasoning and preferences made sense; but the teacher’s reasoning for sending me home was ‘I ruined the uniformity; I could choose to dress as other students either male or female but I couldn’t do both’ even though I’d blatantly proved I could and that it still looked smart it wasn’t good enough, I was askew and couldn’t be neatly placed one side of the fence or the other… guess some things never change ;)

Sorry if I wrote too much – it just kinda happened of it’s own accord but thanks for inspiring me and making me feel justified :)

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L on February 3, 2011 at 11:20 am.

Hey. I just found your blog through a friend somewhat recently, and have never commented before. But I wanted to comment on this piece in particular, which I read last week.

I’ve had issues with depression for years. Not too bad, compared to what some people go through…but it flares up sometimes. Being the smiling one, the sparkling one, the strong one, the one with the great attitude and loads of love for everyone, it doesn’t usually show. I’m fine with that. About 99.999999% of the time, even on a bad day, I can still get out of bed and do everything I need to do. But every once in an extremely rare while, (maybe two or three times in my whole life,) I just. Can’t. Move. This morning was turning into one of those times. I found myself sitting on the livingroom floor, staring at nothing and thinking to myself, “Come on…be stronger than this. Find a reason to stand up and go do what you need to do.” But my muscles just weren’t getting the message. I felt weak and hated myself for it. And the more I hated myself, the weaker I felt.

Then I thought about this post. I thought about the boots that you gave to your readers. And I thought to myself: “Put on your boots.” Self pouted back: “I don’t wanna.” So I said again: “Put. On. The damn. Boots.” And I visualized my boots — the ones I’d created in my head back when I read this post for the first time. Oh honey, they’re glorious…like the 1460s in rich royal purple with a layer of black lace over the top. (Not the Diva Darcies in black lace, ’cause those have a heel and I’d prefer the shape of the 1460s for my badassery.) As soon as I visualized them, I couldn’t NOT put them on. I pulled them on and immediately stood up, swaggering a little in that proud/badass/sexy/playful kind of way that those boots make me feel like. I got the rest of my stuff together and got out the door. I’m at work right now totally not reading your blog while I’m at work. ;)

I’m a writer too. My deepest hope is that something I write can touch a stranger and change something positively for them. I thought you should know that something YOU wrote did that. (*Hugs*) Be well, sweetheart.

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