When you’re stepping out into the snow, slush and ice, do it in a stylish pair of boots that prove that fashion and function can coexist during a cold Canadian winter.

Staying warm and comfortable during winter means making smart choices when it comes to your wardrobe. Your winter boots, in particular, need to stand up to snow and ice to keep your toes toasty. 

But how do you find a pair that doesn’t force you to forfeit fashion in order to gain function? 

Robin Keeler, fashion director at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto, describes which winter boots are best and offers helpful tips to help you shop for the right pair.


1. What’s the most practical style of winter boots for a long, hard Canadian winter?
Robin Keeler: Essential to any wardrobe in Canada, winter boots must be comfortable, durable and fashionable, while protecting your feet from the elements. Consider spending more money proportionately on quality boots than on most other wardrobe items. When thinking of what kind of boots you want, consider the climate and what you’ll be doing in these boots. Will you be walking a lot? Shoveling snow off the car? Hiking?

Winter boots constantly worn in snow and ice should have a waterproof upper part, and the soles should provide good traction. The boots should also cover a good portion of your leg and should fit you perfectly. Top closures prevent snow from entering into your boots. Most people need several types of winter boots to fit their lifestyle; generally speaking, one boot can’t do it all.

2. What features should you look for in the best winter boots?
RK: Warmth, protection, durability, traction and comfort — and good looks.

3. How can you find something that’s both pretty and practical?

RK: Manufacturers have come a long way in the creation of boots that will take you through ice, snow and sleet right into the boardroom.

Anything too bulky or casual will not do here. Instead, look for a knee-high pair in leather with a rubber sole that has some tread. Always treat leather with silicone spray to prevent salt stains and to keep the boots supple. The heel should be medium height and substantially thick (nothing spiky).

For versatility, stick to a simple style (not too much detail or hardware) and a neutral colour.

4. What materials are best for winter boots and why?
 Rubber is lightweight and is used to make most winter boot outsoles, and it offers good traction on wet surfaces. Rubber winter boots often come with a thermal liner, which protects your feet even more. 

Sheepskin breathes and wicks moisture away to keep your feet dry and warm. Leather is another good boot material, and holds up well to wear. Leather can also offer many different looks, from sporty to dressy (depending on the origin of the hide), and it comes in a range of colours.

5. What kinds of heels and soles are best for women who want to be practical and stylish at the same time?
RK: Practicality states that a flat boot or one with a low heel makes most sense in winter. A higher heel, however, is more flattering to the leg and is, of course, dressier. 

Whatever the heel height, make sure that the sole is waterproof and slip resistant

6. How high should boots be?
 The height of your perfect boots may depend on the length of your legs. Short legs gain extra length with tall (e.g., over-the-knee) boots, while shapely legs look great in ankle boots. Heavier legs look best in boots that rise to the knee, and are paired with matching tights — the combination both slims and lengthens the leg. 

7. How do you determine the perfect fit for your winter boot?
 Most people’s shoe/boot size increases with age. Stay open to this fact and have your feet measured from time to time and select the right size.

8. What would you say is the most important consideration when buying a winter boot?
 As with most things — you get what you pay for. Purchase the best quality you can afford.

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