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When winter’s biting winds swoop in and whisper suggestively in our ears, “Put on your Uggs. Just do it,” as a fashion editor, people begin asking me what I think about the long-lasting footwear trend. Which I translate as “Can I pull my stained and stretched-out Uggs from the back of my closet and still wear them in public without looking like I stepped out of an episode of The Simple Life?” To which I *would* like to politely request “Please don’t.” Alas, the answer is more complicated than that, so here’s my ultimate take. 

Uggs are not winter boots

While most shoes inevitably show wear and tear after a few months of slogging through daily life, I can think of few designs that so blatantly display an accidental romp through a puddle like these fuzz-lined boots. Despite Uggs’ reputation for being able to make it through a snowstorm, the suede is not—by any means—waterproof. Plus, the soft silhouette molds to your foot with every step, meaning these boots not only show every drop of water and splatter of mud but also lose any semblance of structure.

Sure, you might argue “But I waterproofed my tall tan boots!” To which I counter: OK. How often? And have you ever dragged a suede brush along its exterior? In order to keep your Uggs looking fresh and protect them from precipitation, they require a new coat of waterproofing every few months. So unless you’re tending to your boots as often as you get your hair cut, they’re probably not aging well.

Uggs are not for the office

Speaking of their formless, unsupportive structure, despite being made of luxe, expensive materials, Uggs are unprofessional. They’re slouchy and disheveled, and for whatever reason they make people walk a certain way. To risk sounding like your mother, whenever I see someone in Uggs, I think, Pick up your feet! Bleh. I get it, the boots are just as comfortable as a pair of slippers, and they put you at such ease that you can’t do anything but drag your heels on the floor as you stroll along. While it might bring you much pleasure and bliss to drag your way through the world, I can assure you it’s beyond irritating to everyone around you. And if you were in the office dragging yourself around from the water cooler to the conference room, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything you said without thinking, But she chose to wear those to the office today.

Does that mean the shearling-lined Australian boots that first came to prominence in the early aughts should be banned from feet for good? Of course not, because there are very few occasions when I would actually encourage wearing Uggs.

When you can (and should!) wear Uggs

Is it around 7 a.m.? Does the windchill register somewhere in the 30s or lower? And does Fido really have to do his business? Then you, my friend, have a hall pass to wear your Uggs every single morning—as long as you bring a doggie bag with you. This particular design of fuzzy footwear was practically designed for making an unpleasant, chilly and completely utilitarian task, such as dog walking, into a more bearable excursion.

The second time it’s acceptable to wear Uggs is when you’re at home, doing all the quotidian tasks necessary to keep your abode looking presentable. You know, vacuuming the floor, doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge, shoving things into the hall closet and praying the door will stay shut. Especially in the winter, they’ll not only keep your feet feeling warm as you tidy, but they’ll stay on and ensure you don’t slip while climbing onto a chair to dust the top of your cabinets (probably for the first time since you moved in two years ago).

Are there other occasions when this footwear gets the green light? Of course, like when you’re sick and headed to the doctor; when you’re running errands that don’t require leaving your car much; when you have a foot injury and can wear no other shoes; or when you need a lightweight pair of boots to throw on after a day of skiing or snowboarding.

If you’re asking my opinion on whether these shoes are considered stylish or a fashion statement? The answer is a resounding nope. But are they still shoes that serve a function and a purpose? Of course. And if they make your life easier when running errands, cozier after a day in too-tight ski boots or more bearable while suffering through the flu, then by all means, wear your Uggs as you please.

But there’s clearly a time and a place for Ugg boots, so if you’re wondering what you should replace your worn-out pair with, consider these suggestions.

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Nordstrom

1. Chelsea Boots by Blundstone

If you’re looking for a pair of waterproof kicks that are super comfortable but won’t require a change of shoes once you get to the office, I’m a big fan of these sleek BlundstonesAlso hailing from Australia, these crazy-lightweight guys look like fancy Chelsea boots but are a thousand times more comfortable than the kind that pinch your toes and come with a designer price tag.

BUY IT ($190)

Zappos

2. 1460 Serena Core Ben by Dr. Martens

Is it the fuzzy, shearling-lined experience you’re after? Fret not, because there are so many options to choose from. The beloved Dr. Martens offers a ton of fuzz-filled styles, like the classic lace-up or the easy slip-on Chelsea boots. We’re partial to this combat style that comes in a festive shade of butterscotch.

BUY IT ($145)

Saks Fifth Avenue

3. Jamie Shearling & Leather Hiking Boots by Aquatalia

Aquatalia is well known among shoe lovers for making fashion-y leather and suede kicks thatare totally waterproof. Which is why we can’t stop fawning over this lug-sole, lace-up boot. Look at that coffee-colored leather juxtaposed against that snow-white shearling. Truly the stuff of winter wonderland dreams. And yeah, they’re also on sale.

BUY IT ($550; $385)

Shopbop

4. Shearling Boots by No. 6

For a status-symbol shearling number (which, as you might remember, Uggs once were), we cannot recommend a No. 6 shearling clog bootie enough. Going strong as a Brooklyn trend for years now, it’s unbelievably chic to clomp into any PTA meeting or even the office in a pair of these bad boys. They come in a veritable rainbow of winter-ready colors, in addition to a variety of heel and shaft heights, so you can choose the one that suits your lifestyle best. While you might not want to slip and slide through the snow in these puppies, you can gloat about the fact that your feet are enveloped in an evolved version of the early Ugg.

BUY IT ($390)

Nordstrom

5. Isha Genuine Shearling Hiking Boot By Marc Fisher

Finally, if it is just a mid-calf throw-on-and-go boot that you’re looking for, we can deliver that. These Marc Fisher boots don’t have to be relegated to snow days, they feel like a hug for your feet, and because they have a solid shape, they won’t do the whole stretching-out thing. But yeah, they’ll look damn cute with your skinny jeans. Go on, stomp through winter in these.

BUY IT ($260; $156)

RELATED: Here’s How to Wear (and Not Wear) Your Skinny Jeans in 2020

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