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Four years ago, an especially clumsy-looking pair of sandals hit the market, bemusing skeptics with their claims of fitness benefits.

That was 10 million pairs ago. Now sandal lovers everywhere know shoemaker FitFlop. It makes the über-comfy, extra-wide slides with "Microwobbleboard" soles that activate muscles in the lower leg while reducing joint stress.

In southern California, the sandals are worn for most of the year, with fashionista-friendly editions for sale on Net-A-Porter or the patent-leather Walkstar III ($60) available at better department stores. But what to wear when faced with SoCal's late-year rains?

Why, this fall's new FitFlop boot collection. We especially like the Byker ($225), with its double buckle and cozy shearling. Or the retro-'70s suede mid-calf FF Superboot ($135), the love child of moccasins and Moon Boots. And we're charmed by the short suede Dash ($115).

You can find FitFlop boots at Nordstrom, right next to comparatively anorectic Jimmy Choos. Sure, shoe snobs might just roll their eyes heavenward at FitFlops' beefy profile. But then again, remember the initial reaction to Uggs?

FitFlop boots are available at area Nordstrom stores and fitflop.com.

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