This summer one of my readers asked me whether I can wear high heels in Alaska in winter. The short answer is yes. Yes, there are 101 reasons to wear heels. But this answer would end the post without your knowing to full story about how women in Alaska wear high heels when there is snow and ice on the ground. And yes, cleats help, but they ruin the shoes. Thus, one doesn’t see them very often. And they are not working with heels.
Alaskan women bring the pumps to work
Have you ever wondered why I have so large bags? I need them to carry my pumps in a shoe bag to work. This way I can wear a stylish work outfit by just taking off my boots and slipping into the pumps that complete my indoor work outfit. You have heard the slogan that
the shoes make or break the look
right? The challenge is not to forget the pumps on the way to or from work. At the end of the winter, many Alaskan women who love to wear high heels, have several pairs under their desk. Yes, I am one of them. 🙂
Style is not to the only reason to swap shoes at the office
Taking off your boots at the office also benefits your health. In the heated rooms at work your feet would sweat in the boots. When you leave and get in the cold outside, the sweat gets cold and so do your feet. You don’t want that to happen as it is a recipe for catching a cold.
Which boots to wear when
Don’t wear wide open booties in high snow
When creating my outerwear outfit I pick the shoes first with the weather and surface conditions outside in mind. Booties with an opening, i.e. that don’t close tight at the ankle, are unsuitable after a night of snowing or when it is snowing outside. Typically, the parking lots are the last to be cleared. Thus, when you pull into a parking lot covered with 5 (12.5 cm) or more inches of snow and step outside your car, the booties would fill up with snow from the top. This load may not be large, but it is large enough for discomfort while walking to the office and your desk. The snow will melt by pressure, your body heat and the warm air in the building. Your tight or socks get wet. You still have wet feet all day even when you swap into pumps.
Boots are great when it snows
Stiletto heels act like nails in pressed snow
On campus as well as at grocery and other stores, the parking lots are cleared about once a month, if at all. Thus, on days with no snow in the forecast and what I call moderate temperatures (down to -15F, -26.1oC), I wear my Harley Davidson motorcycle booties, my Manolo Blanik, Antonio Melani (shown below), or Nine West half-boots (shown in the outfit photos). They have heels with a small surface print of the size of a dime, but less than a quarter. The weight of my body presses them into the pressed snow and hinders a bit that I slip easily.
High heels lead to cold feet easily
When you have worn heels at least once, you know that all your weight is on the ball of your feet. This weight shift may reduce the blood circulation of your feet meaning that your feet get cold easily. To avoid this, I buy all my winter shoes at least a size larger than my summer or dance shoes. In the booties mentioned above, I have an insulating foam insole. The insole reduces the conduction of my body heat to the cold sole that is in contact to the frigid ground.
Boot toppers are also a great way to double up on insulation (see photo below). At the same time, you add more variety to your shoe wardrobe. In long cold winters, not to get into wardrobe boredom is important to keep the mood up. 😉
The lower the temperature, the lower my heels
Yes, we all learned in physics that cold shortens things and heat enlarges things. However, this physical process is not what I’m talking about here. 😉 At temperatures, below -15F and above -35F or so (-26.1 to -34.4oC), I still wear heels. However, these booties or boots have a foam insole with a lamb skin upper part for extra insulation. I also wear two pairs of socks or two pairs of tights. Below -35F I wear my flat shearling boots (see photo below).
Yes, I used to have a pair of Sorel booties that I only wore to for snow shoveling and to watch the Yukon Quest start. After 16 years of shoveling duty, they finally broke. I need to buy a new pair. However, the fashionista in me procrastinates spending the money on them. However, I know I have to and I will do, hopefully in time before temperatures go 40 below. But I prefer my ducks with heels. 😉
Over-the-knee boots for style and protection from the cold
At temperatures below -10F (-23.3oC), one has to idle the car for a while before one can pull out of the parking lot. The colder it is, the longer you have to idle to warm the engine. The wait can be about 10 minutes or more at 40 below (-40oC or colder). Then over-the-knee boots come in handy as they keep my knees warm. However, they have heels. Thus, when temperatures are below the critical value for heels, I wear my long shearling or down coat to keep my legs warm. At forty below, everyone looks like a dumpling. However, I try to look at least like a stylish dumpling and you should try too when style and dressing fashionably is what makes you happy. ❤
Does your winter footwear tell what surface and weather conditions are outside?
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Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders
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