Sorry about the appalling pun! I couldn't resist.
As a teenager & young adult, I had a love of Doc Marten boots that made me wear them almost exclusively. I've never been what you'd call a 'girlie' girl. I would wear them with short skirts and opaque tights: my mum would call them my bovver boots and say I looked like Max Wall. Charming. Never stopped me 'though!
Now I haven't owned a pair of DMs for about a decade, but recently the desire to rekindle that old love affair grew on me. Everyday I walk to work across some slippery cobbles and a concrete wharf and I'm sick to death of my trainers slipping and being worried about falling over. What DMs can truly offer is stability and non-slip grip. Their air-cushioned soles are, as inscribed into them, resistant to oil, fat, acid, petrol and alkali. They're also unfazed by seaweed and slime, in my experience. So it was partly nostalgia and partly knowing that if I went back to DMs I would be able to walk to work in confidence, no background noise of worry about staying up straight!
So, I started looking online for some DMs. I didn't want the standard black ankle-boots, but something a bit more interesting. I'd had a great pair of red, grey & black DMs in the past and I sort of hankered for these, but they were no longer available, as far as I could see. But then again, they were going to be for work, and although I work in a pretty informal environment, I felt too bright or patterned would be pushing it.
When I came across the Vonda DM, it fitted the bill perfectly: they are mostly black matt leather, but have red roses embroidered up the outside. I felt it was the perfect blend of statement and practicality. They are also longer than the basic DM, as a 14 eye, so end mid-calf. These boots ended up being my main Xmas present.
The Vonda has the classic DM yellow stitching around the sole. The soles of DMs are Goodyear-welted, which means a combination of z-welt stitching and heat-sealing goes into the construction, making them super-hard-wearing. They also have the trademark loop at the back, bearing the legend "Air Wair, with bouncing soles".
The leather the boot is made from is a soft, full-grain. To keep it nice & shiny, you need to use a clear wax-based polish. And if your boots develop scuffing over time, the same coloured wax-based shoe polish well-buffed can compensate.
A friend has recommended that to keep the embroidered roses in good condition and avoid them getting dirty, I should apply a protective product such as you might use for a waxed jacket, which I'm certainly going to do. I haven't had them long enough to really need to start cleaning them, but I should do it as a preventative.
The boots are really comfortable, once broken in. Breaking them in has been a bit of a trial, as my feet are not accustomed to boots, due to mostly wearing trainers in the past year or so. My heels blistered up when I wore them for too long in the early stages, but now they are my footwear of choice. They feel lovely and supportive. I had been a trifle worried about their weight, but the 'bouncing' soles make them easy to wear and you don't notice any heaviness.
Although they are 14-eye lace-up boots, on the inside there is a sturdy zip, so once you've arranged your laces to suit you, you never need mess with them again. Taking the boots on and off is easy.
You can tell just by the look and feel of these boots that they are quality. My experience of DMs has been that you can trust them to be long-lived and maintain their shape and appearance well. I have no qualms that it will be otherwise with my Vondas.
The Doc Marten Vonda boot is available online for prices between £90 and £130, so it's not cheap - but you know it'll stay the course.
This is just one of the many pairs of Dr Martens proudly owned and worn by me and my teenage daughter. I have always loved Dr Marten boots and recent years has provided lots of boots which now come with a zip which just makes them even more fantastic. You now get the expected quality and style without the need for lots of lacing up each time. Sort the laces to suit you the first time you wear them then ignore them. Fantastic!!!
I also found with these boots that they were comfortable enough to wear out as soon as I took them out of the box. Dr Martens I bought years ago needed the initial breaking in stage before they left the house, but that was not the case with these. The leather is the same exceptional standard I have come to expect but the boots are every bit as comfy as those I have worn for years.
As always, the stitching is of the highest standard and adds to the style of the boot. The gorgeous pattern on these is incredibly well done and shows no sign of wear or damage despite many, many hours of me wearing them. These boots beg to be worn over skinny jeans or leggings to show off the design and they often get commented on - as do a lot of my other pairs.
The soles are solid enough to stand up to much punishment but flexible enough to allow me to dance in them. In all the years of wearing Dr Martens, I have never seen signs of wear or aging in the soles and the boots in general still look in fantastic condition after much use.
If you aren't lucky enough to already own a pair of Dr Martens, this is a good pair to start with. On the other hand if you are that lucky, these are a must for your collection.
Retailing from around £100 they are a little more than I usually pay for boots but even I can see they are worth every penny. Research and patience can produce a bargain but stylish boots like this don't often appear on the sale racks. They last for years so well worth the initial investment.
Like many women, I suspect, I encounter a dilemma every time I decide to buy a new pair of shoes. I like to be comfortable - so no pointy heels except on the most decadent of occasions - but I also want to look nice. My dilemma is compounded by two things, one being that I walk rather a lot. I live in London and like to make the most of this by visiting lots of different places. I also like to go on day trips or holidays that involve a lot of walking, therefore comfortable shoes are a must. I also, for a number of reasons, hate wearing trousers, and so any shoes I do wear must look decent with skirts and dresses - trainers, even smart ones, are out. My friend has a nice pair of walking boots, but I don't imagine these would look good with a dress.
In the past I've tended to wear ballet flats, but these don't offer much protection from rough surfaces, and they are often flimsy and can cause blisters. Also, when it rains they get uncomfortably soggy. A couple of years ago I broke my 'no ugly shoes' rule and bought a pair of those black canvas sandals that fasten with Velcro. I was going on holiday to Hong Kong and knew I'd be doing a lot of walking - I decided it wasn't worth spoiling my holiday for the sake of vanity. Imagine my annoyance when these sandals gave me massive blisters! In the end I had to alternate these with my ballet flats and cover my feet with plasters. I was NOT happy that my shoes were not only ugly but highly uncomfortable.
Fast forward to nearly two years ago, when I was working as a temp in a university library. One of my colleagues had a pair of these boots and I admired them greatly. I was impressed that they were Dr Martens - I'd heard of the brand of course, and one of my best friends used to have a pair that she wore constantly, but I'd never seen myself as a Dr Martens sort of girl. I'd always associated them with alternative cultures, such as the 90s grunge scene and the punk rock scene prior to that - they've become synonymous with rebellion and counter-culture in the fifty or so years they've been around, which isn't really me as I'm quite a girly girl, fond of floaty skirts and vintage dresses!
I decided to buy a pair from eBay, the cheapest place I could find them. My pair cost £80, and I was careful to choose a seller with excellent feedback to minimise the risk of purchasing a fake. I've had my boots nearly two years now, and have worn them a great deal in a variety of situations.
***The Vonda boots***
The Vonda boots are a bit different from the typical Dr Marten style. They are 14-hole calf length leather boots, unlike the usual ankle boots, which gives a more streamlined appearance. They are black, which goes with almost any outfit, with a high quality matte finish. The best thing about these boots in my opinion is the embroidery: red roses with green leaves have been stitched all the way up the boots and look really lovely. The Dr Martens website describes these boots as 'more feminine' DMs and I have to agree - for them to appeal to me, they must be!
Though they are laced up, there is also a handy side zip. This makes the boots easy to get on and off, and means that you can adjust the laces to suit the size of your calves and not have to worry about this every time you put them on.
Because of the design, the boots are perfect for wearing with skirts and dresses, however they can also be worn with trousers - one of the roses is on the toe so you will still see some decoration peeking out!
***Materials and construction***
DMs are still constructed with the same air-cushioned sole created by Dr Klaus Maertens in Germany in 1945. I can honestly say that this is the most comfortable sole I have ever walked on. Even with comfortable shoes, I often find that the soles of my feet start to burn or feel sore after some time - not with these. I can walk for hours, day after day (as I do on holiday), without suffering any pain or discomfort.
The rubber sole, with a 12mm platform and 28mm heel, is described as being oil and fat resistant, tough, and offering good abrasion and slip resistance. After nearly two years' wear, in all weather conditions, there are no signs of wear on the soles whatsoever. I feel totally secure in these boots: I know that I won't slip in icy or wet conditions, and my feet are protected from the weather. The odd stone does get stuck in the grooves from time to time, but I can easily remove these.
The leather used in the manufacture of these shoes is a lightweight, full-grain leather that is very soft. I can vouch for this, as the leather is very comfortable and I haven't suffered from the notorious blisters and pain from 'breaking in' the boots. The leather is also very warm - only my Ugg boots are warmer, though not of course waterproof - and I have worn them in the snow and ice and felt very comfortable.
The boots are "Goodyear-welted", which means that the upper and sole are sewn together - not just glued - and stitched using the trademark yellow Z welt-stitch, before undergoing the heat-sealing process. This careful construction means that the boots are completely waterproof and my feet stay warm and dry. The stitching remains 100% secure even after frequent wear.
As mentioned above, I didn't much suffer from blisters or pain when wearing these boots, unlike my friend who, when she bought her traditional Dr Martens a few years ago, had to put up with about a month of agony before they were broken in. After long and frequent wear, I did - and in fact still do - occasionally find that some of the skin has been rubbed off my heel, causing a little pain. However, subsequent or even pre-emptive use of plasters has solved this problem easily. In all other respects the boots have always been completely comfortable to walk in for any length of time.
***Occasions for wear***
These boots are hugely versatile - here are a few of the occasions on which I have worn them:
- Days out, e.g. at English Heritage or National Trust properties. Ideal for walking up uneven stone steps and crossing rain-drenched lawns!
- Snowy and icy conditions - they are warm but waterproof, unlike my Ugg boots, and the sole offers excellent grip on icy surfaces.
- On holiday in Iceland: they were actually the only shoes I wore while I was there. They remained comfortable as I explored the area, and really came into their own at Gullfoss waterfall - I felt completely secure climbing on the slippery rock next to the falls.
- A work-related conference: not the formal sort you need to wear suits to, naturally, but the smart-casual kind. I received several compliments on the boots, which helped to break the ice, and felt much more confident knowing that I wasn't likely to fall over, which may well have happened if I was wearing heels!
- Intermittently rainy days: the boots are waterproof, and unlike wellies, they don't look silly if the sun comes out.
- Shopping: the boots are comfortable even after traipsing round the shops all day, and the zip means that they are easy to take off and put back on when you're trying on outfits.
- Work: Originally I wasn't able to wear these boots in my current job, but our dress code has recently been relaxed, so I now wear them to the office quite frequently. They are brilliant during the crowded Underground commute - I don't need to worry that someone will step on my feet, as the boots offer excellent protection.
- Pubs, bars, meals and going out in general: while not exactly cutting edge fashion, these boots are different and unusual, pretty but with an edge, and go with many of the skirts and dresses I like to wear to go out in. I don't mind standing in a crowded bar when I'm wearing these comfortable shoes, and I don't need to go home early because my feet are hurting. They aren't suitable for proper dressed-up nights out involving posh bars and clubs, but I rarely go on those anyway these days!
In fact, the only situation in which I DON'T wear the boots is one in which the temperature is over about 20°C. They are warm boots as it is, and the need to wear socks with them makes them even warmer. However, this hasn't been a problem that has concerned me a great deal this summer!
As mentioned, I've had these boots almost two years. Everything to do with the construction of the boots is still perfect. They show no sign whatsoever of wear and tear, at least in terms of functionality. The sole is as good as new and the embroidered roses are just as bright and fresh-looking as the day I bought them. There are a few creases in the boots, but nothing too major. I do wonder if I should have bought a bigger size - I purchased my usual 6 and they fit comfortably without rubbing, but perhaps a 7 would have offered more flexibility in terms of wearing thicker socks (although I do wear socks with them anyway).
Unfortunately I've managed to scuff the toes a little, but judicious use of shoe polish helps them to look almost as good as new. I also wash them with water every so often to clean the dirt off them. I really take pride in these boots and I want to look after them.
***Do they have any negative points at all?!***
One, as far as I am concerned. The embroidery is stitched right through the leather, so you can see and feel it inside the shoe. When I first got them, this hurt and scratched my legs, and damaged my tights. To solve this problem, I have to wear socks that go up as high as the top of the boots, even when I am wearing tights as well (leggings also work well with these boots). I would rather this wasn't the case, but it's a problem I can easily live with.
***Price and Availability***
The widest range of Dr Martens can be found online at www.drmartens.com. These Vonda boots are on the site, priced at £130. Although £50 more than I paid for them, I feel the price is still worth it. There is a Dr Martens store in Covent Garden, London, and another in Spitalfields in east London, but I don't know if this style can be found there. Another option is to look on eBay: a recent check showed me that you can still buy these boots there although not quite as cheaply as I did.
These boots used to be available in Schuh: they aren't any longer, although I've seen that this same design (red rose embroidery on a matte black background) is now available in the traditional Dr Martens ankle boot style. Is it crazy of me to say that I'm thinking of buying these too?! There are a number of other stores both online and on the high street selling Dr Martens, far too many for me to list here.
I completely adore these boots. They are comfortable, beautiful, long-lasting and - despite the high price - value for money. I am seriously considering buying another pair for when these eventually wear out (which won't be for a while!), and am thinking of purchasing a pair of more traditional DMs in a different colour or design - ASOS.com has some beautiful examples that have been made in conjunction with London department store Liberty's. For the sake of balance, I should point out that my mam hates these boots. However, I think even she saw the wisdom of my purchase when she came down to stay with me in London and endured agonies from her shoes, while I swanned around as if on air. Everyone else who has commented on these boots has been very positive about them. I wholeheartedly recommend them and am a definite Dr Martens convert!
I think these have to be the most beautiful boots I've ever seen. I came across them in 2010 at a shop in London, but hadn't seen them since except for a few select places online. They're not cheap, but they've got the looks and the durability that make them a fantastic investment piece, and one that will get you noticed and put a smile on your face each time you set out in them.
Dr Martens kicked off their popularity in the 60s, becoming trendy as a more 'rebellious' brand of footwear. But it actually all began back in Germany with Dr. Klaus Maertens in 1945. They've branched out now to make various styles of both shoes and boots that are internationally sold and loved, and the name itself has reached a point of notoriety that I'd be hard pushed to find many people that haven't heard of them.
What are they? The Vonda boots are 14 eyelet calf-length leather boots, with the trademark thick sole and yellow loops at the top that make them recognisable as being Dr Martens. What makes Vonda so distinguishable is the floral pattern the outer side of each boot, and because I've not actually seen anyone else wear these (apart from myself) they're a lesser-known and more original style that will stand out from the crowd.
The boots are made from leather and tie up with laces to the top. I've owned Dr Martens before but sent them back because they had this style; the laces were simply too difficult to keep doing up and undoing each time I wanted to put them on or take them off. The great thing about these ones are that they're calf length, so not the full 20 eyelet knee ones, and they have an inside zip. This makes them far easier to wear as you can keep them constantly tied up.
The floral detail is very vivid. The flowers are roses and the pattern is rich red and green in colour, so it really stands out. Although DMs may appeal more to a 'youth' culture, I wouldn't say these look tacky, and neither do they seem to be over-worn, because like I said, I haven't seen anyone else with these yet. I love the design because it looks beautiful and yet quite classic, adding a lovely feminine twist to the chunkier style of boot.
As for the soles, they're the sturdy, thick yellow rubber that distinguishes DMs. As with the classic design, they're very robust, being both oil and fast resistant whilst providing good slip resistance. The heal height is around 28mm, with a 'platform' height of 12mm, so that gives you a rough idea of the thickness of the soles.
These are classed as being 'Goodyear-welted', because the boot upper and the sole are sewn with a Z welt-switch along with a heat-sealing process. This is a bonus in my opinion because many shoes/boots are simply glued, so I feel more confident in these boots being robust and standing the test of time. The leather itself is a full-grain leather that has a relatively soft feel.
The overall sense I get from these boots is one of high quality. You can tell that time and technology has gone in to making these as robust yet visually appealing and comfortable as possible, which makes them a good investment for your feet because they should last.
What I will say about these is that, as is the case with most if not all DMs, is that they need to be broken in. The leather may be classed as having a soft feel, but as with any genuine leather boot they are harder to start with. I made the mistake of walking a long distance the first time I wore them and they rubbed against the back of both heals, leaving me to hobble home with my socks stuck to my ankles with blood. This is, however, just a temporary thing. Or at least it should be. I've had mine for a few months now and it only took a few occasions of wearing them for short periods of time to soften them up a bit; you notice your foot positioning and the moulding of the boot change, by which point they were no longer rubbing on my ankle.
Wearing these is a pleasure because they're so comfortable and so gorgeous. The airwalk sole makes them ever so slightly bouncy, and they encase your foot and leg well (depending on how tightly you decide to tie them), giving you good support whilst walking. They're not as heavy as some leather DMs, possibly because they're more calf than knee length, but they still have the chunky, sturdy feel to them. It's a bit like wearing stomper boots; I feel more confident when wearing these, they put a bounce in my step and make me walk with purpose.
Overall I would definitely recommend these. The design is beautiful and fits with my 'style', and I love the feel of their chunkiness mixed with the feminine design. They're excellent quality and offer comfort for your feet and an enjoyable walking experience that in turn makes them a good investment for your wardrobe.
RRP around £100-120 (can be found on Amazon.co.uk)
Imagine me, (at least I hope) always elegant, nicely dressed and with decent make-up entering a shoe shop and falling in love. I always thought it would be when I see a pair of Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos, but love is love, you never know what you end up getting. And it was this pair of Dr. Martens boots that was my destiny. Sure after few minutes I told to myself these are not my style, I have nothing to wear them with and they are a bit expensive (not being familiar with Dr Martens brand at the time and mostly going for quantity rather than quality). However, I mentioned my "affair" to my husband, who in few weeks, very originally, gave these to me as roses for Valentine's Day.
Vonda boots are ovely black, good quality leather boots that come up to underneath the knee, on a flat, usual and very comfortable Dr Martens sole. The black laces come all the way up, but there's no need to worry about putting them on as they have a zip on the side as well. There are red roses embroided to the outer side of each shoe, plus one small rose nearer to the toes (when wearing these under the trousers, this small rose is th only one visible). I have also seen these in white leather with white/black/green embroidery.
They are extremely comfortable pair of boots that never get wet inside, however the first few days were a bit of a distaster as I ended up with very sore feet. I later learned from my Dr Martens fan friends that this is quite normal, your foot just needs to get used to hard leather.
The thing I really love is, that they are very skinny on the calf - I have trouble buying high boots as most boots I can get in shop are just too wide for me, even if I put trousers in them. I reckon that may be a problem for people who need a wider boot.
Regarding maintenance, I can't really advise much. They just don't need any - have them for 3 years now and apart from very occasional polishing with normal cheap black shoe polish (be careful around the embroidery though!) I didn't do much, and they don't look much different from the day I got them. Still no leaks, no cracks, no significant marks.
Overall, I couldn't wish for better shoes. They are comfortable, sturdy, look great (I still keep getting compliments after 3 years), they're original and don't need much maintenance. I will definitely be getting another pair soon, these boots made me Dr Martens fan!