Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In college, while living on a big campus that required a good deal of walking, it quickly became clear that I needed substantial rainy day gear — or else I would be living with a perpetual cold for the next four years. To remedy this, my mom immediately went to Target and bought me some houndstooth knee-high rain boots. As thoughtful and wonderfully mom-like as this was, I hated these boots, and I did not wear them after the first couple of attempts. Instead, I trekked around in faux leather combat boots that worked okay most of the time, but not at all on the days I really needed them.
If you’ve worn them, you know this, but rain boots are largely terrible. If you haven’t worn them, let me tell you why.
First of all, rain boots are clunky and difficult to walk in, especially the knee-high variety. This was particularly an issue while navigating my very hilly campus with a bulky backpack. Because they’re so heavy, my legs were legitimately tired after trudging them up a hill. By the time I got to class, I was both sweaty from the walk and slightly dewy (but not in the good way) from the rain. Plus, as I mentioned, they were houndstooth, a pattern commonly worn by Alabama fans, so it was practically sacrilege to wear them on UGA’s campus. I put these in the back of my closet and only dug them out for muddy volunteer days at the humane society. (Sorry, Mom!)
When I moved to New York a few years later, the need for waterproof shoes presented itself once again, and more urgently, because puddles here are much grosser than puddles just about anywhere else, and the knee-highs were really not cutting it in my significantly reduced closet space. After some internet scouring, I found the Jeffrey Campbell Stormy Chelsea Rain Boots. At $55, they were pricey for my two-internships budget, but two years later have proven 100 percent worth it.
The boots are easy to walk in, and they’re sleek enough to not ruin the silhouette of your outfit. Because they look like regular Chelsea boots, I’ve also worn them to concerts, where I’m always worried about bar tar and drink spills ruining my shoes. I ended up going with the leopard pattern, which isn’t available this season, but they come in a bunch of colors — shiny and matte black, purple, navy, and my personal favorite, glitter. Jeffrey Campbell notoriously runs small, so make sure to size up. I also switched out the inner sole for a Dr. Scholl’s insert, which helps make the narrow toe more comfortable for all-day wear.