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It?s the wet season, and finding a comfy yet stylish alternative to knee boots is a challenge. But thanks to classic California footwear maker Vans, we?re getting a kick out of the rain.

The 47-year-old company is best known for the slip-ons popularized by skaters and surfers, but of late the firm has come out with sophisticated styles, not Fast Times at Ridgemont High costumes. The shoes are Scotchgarded and fitted with the brand?s signature vulcanized rubber sole (to help skaters stay on their boards), so they?ll be sure to keep you dry.

We?re charmed by the zig-zag Sk8-Hi Slim ($70), which looks like a high-top sneaker's love child with a Native American blanket, as well as the reissued hip-hop high-top leather Sk8-Hi ($85). For really wet days, we?d opt for the flannel Chukka Del Pato ($80), a duck boot topped with woven flannel. (These last two come in men?s sizes only, but the 6.5 fits a women?s size 8.)

Charmingly, Vans has kept a bit of surfer chic in its retinue. We?d happily wear the Chukka Boot Cali ($80) with its Guatemalan-blanket accent, even though we don?t know an ollie from a right-hand break.

Vans are available at Nordstrom, 189 The Grove Drive; 323-930-2230 or

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