Shoe Options for City Living in the Winter

Shoe Options for City Living in the Winter

City living is active living, whether it's raining, snowing or a sunny day outside. City dwellers tend to exercise more and get around more than people who live in the suburbs. In some cities, like Boston, people are particularly active, clocking in around four miles of walking per day.

If you're going to be out and about, running errands or commuting to work even in the toughest of winter weather, you'll want shoes that can stand up to the challenges cold and wet weather brings with it. You also want shoes that look stylish while keeping your feet warm and dry.

Whether you live in New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City or any other city which sees its fair share of winter weather, here's what you need to know when picking out shoes that are winter-ready.

Winter Challenges in the City and How They Affect Your Feet

When you're looking for shoes that will comfortably take you through the winter months, you want to look for shoes that can withstand the challenges of winter weather, and will keep your feet comfortable as you navigate the city sidewalks. Although winter brings along its own set of weather-related challenges, with the right boots or sneakers, these challenges won't be any problem for your feet.

winter challenges in the city


  • Snow: When it's blanketing the city in a fluffy layer of white, snow is pretty. It's what comes later that can be a challenge. When it gets on your shoes, snow can cause water damage, depending on the material. Fortunately, you can protect your shoes from water damage with a protector spray.
  • Ice: Icy sidewalks can be tricky to walk on without a slip or fall. To keep yourself upright as you walk on slippery surfaces, take a few tips from penguins. Walk with your feet turned slightly outward to adjust your center of gravity and to stay upright. If the cute little tuxedo-wearers can do it, you can too. Another way to make sure you have a good grip on icy surfaces is to wear shoes with a grippy, tread soles.
  • Salt: Road salt helps snow and ice melt more quickly, which makes it safer for people to walk on the sidewalks and for drivers on the road. Sometimes, though, that salt ends up on your shoes, leaving behind a white residue. Luckily, that residue is easy enough to remove, using either a DIY solution of vinegar and water or a specially made salt stain remover. 
  • Cold: For the most part, your shoes don't mind the cold. Your feet might, though. If you notice your toes get cold in the winter, try a pair of fur- or shearling-lined boots or a pair of wool socks.

Shoe Materials That Will Get You Through Winter

Some types of material are going to be better for winter weather than others. For example, a rubber sole on a boot is a better bet in the winter than a leather sole. Wet conditions can damage a leather sole while a rubber tread will have no problems.

shoe materials for winter


  • Rubber: Rubber boots are a popular pick for wet weather because they repel water and seem impervious to damage. You can find boots that are all rubber or that have rubber toes and vamp and another material in the calf area. Although rubber boots don't need as much care as leather or suede footwear, you don't want to neglect them completely. If the rubber looks dirty, wiping it with a rag soaked in warm, soapy water will help it look good-as-new.
  • Leather: Leather isn't a naturally waterproof material, but there's a way to transform into a material that can cope with whatever the winter throws its way. Conditioning and sealing the leather with a protective wax coating will help it repel water. Protective sprays can also help to waterproof leather boots and shoes. Some boots and shoes are made of a pre-treated leather so the shoes are water- and weatherproof when they show up at your door. 
  • Faux-fur or shearling lining: Few things are as enjoyable as slipping your feet into a warm pair of fleece, shearling or fur-lined boots in the winter. A shearling or faux-fur lining isn't a must-have for winter shoes, but it can definitely up the comfort and warmth level of your shoes.

Winter-Approved Shoe Options

When it comes to picking out winter-ready shoes or boots, look for options that will keep your feet warm and dry, and will look good doing so. Whether you're looking for winter shoes to wear to work, to girls' night or while doing your grocery shopping, these options will cover all your bases.

winter approved shoe options

1. Over-the-Knee Boots

Over-the-knee boots are the best bet when you want extra coverage and warmth as well as maximum style. Heeled over-the-knee boots are a perfect pick for dinner out while low-heeled boots are great for running everyday errands.

To make the boots even warmer, you can pair them with a pair of skinny jeans or pants. Wear the boots over the pants for a stylish look that's also cozy. For a leg-lengthening effect, choose a pair of boots in the same color as your pants.

Over-the-knee boots also pair well with a short, above-the-knee skirt in the winter. The taller height of the boots keeps your legs warm even though the skirt is on the shorter side. For even more warmth, you can pair your tall boots with a midi-length skirt.

Are you worried about bending your knee in taller boots? Some styles have a cut-out at the back so you have full movement of your knees. Others are made of a stretchy material in the back, which moves when you do.

2. Lace-up Booties

Whether you're looking for something dressy or a more casual option for your days off, lace-up booties won't let you down in the winter. Lace-up booties come in so many different styles, you could buy a different pair for every day of the month if you wanted to.

Let's start on the casual end of the spectrum. Dr. Martens are a classic lace-up boot that never goes out of style. You can pick a black pair that goes with pretty much everything or spice things up and choose a glittery or floral print design. The Jadon boot updates the classic eight-eye lace-up by adding a platform sole.

If you want some extra warmth this winter, UGG boots makes a selection of lace-up chukka booties that are wool-lined and extra cozy.

Lace-up booties are also an excellent pick for a winter-time date night. For a date-night ready bootie, look for a style with a heel or pointed toe — or both! If you're not into high-heeled boots, a lower heeled style with some bling, such as studs or another fun detail, will work too.

3. Rain and Coldweather Boots

If what comes to mind when you think of "rain and cold weather boots" is rubber wellies or rugged duck boots, get ready for a pleasant surprise. Plenty of winter-weather-friendly boots are also designed with the needs of a trendy, stylish city dweller in mind.

Stormy boots from Stuart Weitzman look cool while keeping your feet warm and dry. They have a treaded rubber sole for grip on even the slipperiest of streets and a faux fur lining for extra warmth.

Aquatalia makes waterproof boots that don't look like they're waterproof. Their leather boots are specially treated and sealed so you can stroll through the wettest of weather without worrying about getting your feet wet or damaging your footwear.

Of course, there are times when you do want to nod to the chilly temperatures and wet conditions with your boots. We've got you covered there, too. Hunter rain boots are perfect if you live in a city where the winter is cold and wet, but not too cold and not particularly snowy.

For colder, more snow-prone areas, Sorel makes a lot of winter snow boots that also happen to look cool. You can go for a classic snow boot look with their Tofino line of boots or jump on the trend wagon with the wedge-heeled Joan of Arctic boot — there's also a low-heeled version of the Joan of Arctic boot available.

4. Fashion Sneakers

Sneakers aren't just for the gym anymore. Fashion sneakers add a playful, casual edge to any outfit. Plus, they're super comfortable, making them a good pick for winter when the weather's dry.

The trick to wearing fashion sneakers without looking like you're headed to the gym is to have a bit of fun with your picks. Giove makes some cool sneakers that have a distinctive star pattern on the ankle or near the laces. The sneakers come in a rainbow of colors and even patterns like leopard print, so you're sure to find a pair which matches your mood.

The next trick to wearing sneakers for fashion rather than exercise is to have some fun with your outfits. Yes, you can wear sneakers with a dress or skirt. When the temps are extra chilly, add a pair of fleece-lined tights to your look to keep your legs toasty warm.

The last thing to remember when it comes to wearing fashion sneakers this winter? There are no real rules. The athleisure trend is here to stay, so you can rock your favorite sneaks pretty much any way you want and still look 100 percent on-trend.

Caring for Your Shoes in the Winter

Whether you go for boots or sneakers in the winter, you want to keep them looking as good as new for as long as possible. With some care and attention, your designer shoes can last you season after season.

The first thing to do is waterproof your shoes! A waterproof protective spray will help your sneakers or boots repel water, protecting the leather or other material from damage. For best results, spray your shoes before you wear them out for the first time. Give them another spray after wearing the shoes out in the rain, snow or other wet conditions.

Next, it's a good idea to clean your shoes frequently, especially if you're walking on salty sidewalks. To remove salt residue from your shoes, make a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar and one part water. Soak a white washcloth or dishrag in the solution, then wring out. Wipe the shoes with the cloth, then rinse with plain water. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess water from the surface of the shoes, then let them air dry. To protect the leather, don't use heat to dry your shoes.

If snowy or wet conditions leave you with soggy boots or sneakers, it's a good idea to help them dry ASAP. Take the shoes off and stuff them with newspaper. The newspaper will absorb the moisture from the inside of the shoes, helping them dry more quickly. The paper will also help the shoes keep their shape as they dry.

It's also important to show your rubber rain boots some love and care in the winter. While rubber's a bit tougher a material compared to leather and textiles, it still needs some attention to look its best. If your wellies or rain boots are looking a looking a little worse for wear or could use some brightening up, here's what you can do.

To freshen up your rubber boots, soak a cloth or rag with warm water. Wipe the boots with the cloth, starting at the top and working your way down to the toes. If the boots are particularly dirty, you can add some dish soap to the warm water for extra cleaning power. Let the boots dry completely before wearing again.

Change Shoes When You Arrive

When inclement weather is on the way, it's a good idea to pick boots that can withstand the snow, sleet or rain or will keep your feet as warm as possible. While it's a good idea to wear full-coverage boots or sneakers when walking around your city in the winter, you don't have to pack your cute heels, loafers or mules away until the spring.

Wear your boots or other winter-proof shoes to your destination, such as work or a lunch date with your friends. Once you get to your destination, put on your favorite heels or loafers and pack your outdoor boots or sneakers away. Changing shoes when you get to where your going won't just let you extend the wear cycle of your favorite shoes, it will also help you avoid tracking mud, water or snow into the office, restaurant or other places you're visiting.

Shop Now for Shoes to Keep You Warm and Dry in Winter

buy weatherproof boots


Ready to fill your shoe closet with winter-approved boots and other shoes? We've got you covered. Shoe-Inn has a huge selection of designer boots and fashion sneakers. Whether you're looking for over-the-knee styles or lace-up booties or want a pair of boots that can handle whatever the weather throws their way, browse our selection and buy your favorite styles today.

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