One man's impassioned defense of indefensible footwear.
It is with deepest pleasure I inform you: the time to wear ugg boots has arrived. You may respond to this information in one of two ways: by thrashing your whole body against your desk and screaming, or with relief, as the stigma has finally been lifted and you are free to embrace your most comfortable self. I would say it will be hard adjusting to your new life, except it won’t be. It will be extremely easy and very cozy.
In the past the past 10 years, outside of maybe Alessandro Michele’s hyperembroidered Gucci, the single biggest trend has been comfortwear. We’ve seen the jogger come and go, we’ve seen Yeezy sweatshirts fetch unconscionable prices, we’ve seen the death and rebirth of Juicy Couture. This all makes sense if we look at professional wear, which has experienced an unbuttoning over the past few decades. Where was leisurewear supposed to go, if not in the same plush direction?
The ugg boot is the nadir of this movement. Their value proposition includes comfort...and nothing else. They do not even try to be cute—the name is literally derived from the word “ugly.” Originally worn to keep the toes of Australian surfers warm before their morning shreds, Uggs have since very, very softly introduced themselves into the casual American wardrobe, where they’ve remained a staple for cool teens everywhere. (A note about capitalization: Ugg is a company that makes uggs, which are sheepskin boots that date back to the 1950s.)
But for anyone over the age of 18, and especially for men, the bestselling Ugg Classic Short Boot used to be both juvenile and unpleasant to look at. A pair of uggs conveyed to the world that you were at peak leisure—if you were in public, you were not supposed to be seen—or that you were a high schooler from the American Midwest. But now that the context has changed—now that it includes phrases like “work-appropriate sweatpants”—ugg boots seem logical. Remember when we were all making fun of what Shia Lebeouf would wear in public, and then after a while we were like, damn, he looks good? That is what is happening here.
But set aside how they look for a second, because that doesn’t matter as much as this: Uggs make your feet sing.
What does wearing a pair of ugg boots feel like? It feels like dipping your feet into two buckets of chinchillas. It feels like sinking into dual cashmere burritos stuffed with the whispers of your lover. It feels like forgetting your feet exist. Through some combination of animal hides and Australian ancestral magic, they are the most comfortable shoe to ever exist. Luckily for you, they are also available for purchase.
And now they are even trending, too. Uggs’ cultural stock is on the rise. Last year, capital-U Ugg (the company) was tapped for two collaborations—one with Jeremy Scott (slightly garish) and one with 3.1 Philip Lim (wearable and cool, still supremely comfortable). Y/Project sent thigh-high uggs down the runway earlier this year, setting the internet ablaze. Pharrell wears them regularly and always looks great. (Ben Affleck does, too, with mixed results.) To wear uggs is to communicate to the world that you are at ease with yourself. They convey a sense of humor, a sense of irony, and a sense of self-security, all at once. They are the unlikely mascots of the self-care movement, both emotionally and podiatrically comfortable.
And the fact that they’re kind of ugly isn’t a strike against them anymore, either, because that’s also cool now. Crocs have surged back into the fashion conversation via Balenciaga, the company that jumpstarted the “ugly sneaker” trend. (Crocs and Uggs are peers in inspiring vitriol and looking gross, but let me clear something up: Crocs are nowhere near as comfortable as Uggs. They are ugly without virtue.) In comparison, uggs seem quaint—homely, but in a charming way, like an ugly sibling.
I cashed in my chic, foot-mangling sneakers for a pair of Ugg-brand ugg boots recently, and, reader, can I tell you I have changed? That I smile more often, 15% less stressed out by the world around me? I wear them to the grocery store, to do laundry, when I’m working from home, occasionally to breakfast on the weekends with friends. You’ll be delighted to know that there are plenty of situations that still call for non-ugg footwear, like funerals. You needn’t abandon your beloved loafers and engorged Yeezys altogether—you just need to broaden your horizons.
All of which leads us to a question. Uggs are back. But how are you supposed to wear them? Here’s one answer: with jeans and a flannel.
Doesn’t that image make all of your brain synapses exhale at once? And even if its a lot of marketing smoke and mirrors, and no outfit equation that involves uggs could ever look that good, doesn’t it present an interesting conundrum, and aren’t you tempted to try to make them look good? Don’t you love problem solving?
You do. And while your mind runs laps, your body will be at ease, encased in sheepskin forever.
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