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How to survive this bleak winter? Stomp about in chunky boots

Ugh January. How am I supposed to get through this hellish month? Tanya, by email

Two words, Tanya: chunky boots. If the 1990s was the decade that the phrase “fuck-me shoes” was coined, we are now very much in the era of “fuck-you boots”, the bigger and stompier the better. Because, let’s be honest, that is pretty much the mood we are all in these days, and all this energy has to go somewhere, and surely it is better siphoning it down to your feet than spewing it all over social media. After all, what would make you feel better in the morning – waking up exhausted because you stayed up until 2am fighting about Trump with a stranger on Facebook, or waking up happily refreshed, slipping on a pair of chunky ankle boots and stomping out the door?

I have loved chunky boots since I was 14 and bought my first pair of DMs from Shellys on Kensington High Street. Not a confident teenager by nature, I realised my boots gave me that confidence; you can’t walk in DM’s apologetically – you can only march defiantly, and it felt freaking great. As soon as I had paid for them, I marched straight across the road to the much-missed Kensington Market, a place I had always feared as being way too cool for me, largely because it wasn’t Kookai. I headed straight to the body-piercing booth and demanded that the punk who worked there pierce my ears. Five times: three in one ear, two in the other. And for added measure, I got my belly button done, too. OK, so it turned out the punk wasn’t that great at piercing, and to this day I have a weird grey lump in my earlobe caused by a bit of nickel that broke off from the back of an earring, mid-pierce, and I nearly passed out in pain when he drove a literal wooden stake through my tummy to pierce it. But still, as I left Ken Market that day, my ears nearly bleeding off my head, barely able to see straight because of the pain, but my feet still stomping, I had never felt so cool in my life. And the truth is, I was never that cool again.

So I was delighted when my esteemed colleague Scarlett Conlon wrote on these pages at the end of last year that chunky boots are back this season, because it meant the stores would be full of chunky boots, and I would have more chance of finding my perfect pair. And over Christmas, find them I did. Part-ski boot, part-hiking boot, they are so chunky and stompy I gain at least three jolts of testosterone every time I put them on, and I love it. I wear them with shorts and tights, with miniskirts, with party dresses. I would wear them to bed but I would probably end up accidentally assaulting myself. They are the kind of boots that make you want to put on your headphones, turn up World Destruction by Time Zone and raise your fist to the sky. And really, that is all I have ever wanted from a pair of shoes.

Part of being a grownup means accepting other people think differently from you, and I have slowly learned to recognise that not everyone feels the same way as me – about everything, but also about shoes, and that women who claim to love high heels (the polar opposite to stompy boots) aren’t just lying to make themselves sound glamorous. They really mean it. In this month’s Vogue, fashion editor Sophia Neophitou describes in genuinely fascinating detail her lifelong obsession with high heels, and how they made her feel “empowered”, even though “in a heel, you are always looking for danger areas – cobbles, paving stone cracks, grates – and conscious of where you are planting each foot”. Now, I try to be understanding, but, seriously, who has the time for this any more? Not even Sophia, who has had to switch to flats after an accident, and has discovered: “Now, I’m able to get up and out.”

Damn right, and with stompy boots you get up and out even more quickly and with more energy. That is why I genuinely believe shoes are a feminist issue – women need shoes that give them energy and leave their minds free to dismantle the patriarchy, not worry about cobblestones. It is a dark and cold world out there at the moment, people, but don’t fear it: stomp on it.

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