The most daring look I've seen this fall came not during Fashion Week or while scrolling through a blogger's Instagram account, but while boarding a Manhattan-bound L train in Brooklyn around 8 AM. While I, morning person I am not, had barely managed to tie my sneakers correctly, the girl standing next to me was rocking skin-tight, coated black jeans, a very Yeezy-esque oversized puffer jacket worn slightly askew, and the coup de grâce, a pair of bright white leather mule boots with 5-inch heels. 5-inch! White leather! Mule boots! At 8 AM! I was (and still am) in awe of this seriously bossy fellow commuter. But then I started looking around at all those aforementioned Instagram accounts and street style photos and realized that white boots are having a serious moment.
And, to be honest, it's not hard to decipher why. To wear white leather, especially in a dirt-saturated city like New York, is an act of true daring, and we're living in a moment in which boldness is a virtue. Sure, glitter boots and fur-trimmed sandals are bold too, but white leather has an inherent serenity that makes its wearer look completely infallible. White boots also go with everything and have a '60s Go-Go girl vibe that feels fresh, especially amidst winter's inevitable sea of boring black booties.
If you're thinking of investing in the trend, consider a patent leather version like these from Stuart Weitzman, a pair from Alexa Chung's new label, or Steve Madden's more affordable version. The shiny coating will protest them from dirt and (most) scuffing. But if you have your heart set on a matte leather pair like Free People's or these Gianvito Rossi stunners, there are some measures you can take to ensure your snow-white leather stays that way.
David Mesquita, owner of Leather Spa, a top shoe repair facility in New York, advises applying a water and stain protector, like this one, to the shoes as soon as you buy them. "There are other products out there that are water-proofers but those I don’t like because they seal the pores of the leather which in turn affects the breathing capabilities of the skin," he says. "Our water and stain [protector] was created using nanotechnology, which builds an invisible, protective shield without affecting the breathing capabilities of the leather."
While this will help prevent minor stains and water damage, Mesquita also notes the importance of investing in a spot cleaner, which, he says, "helps to break up the stain, which you can then wipe off with a clean cotton rag or paper towel." Any trauma that befalls the shoe should be addressed immediately, because the longer a stain is left to its own devices, the more likely it is to penetrate the protective shield and remain a permanent part of your shoe.
"Dirt and dust, when it first hits the skin, is just on the surface, so if you treat it right away it will come off," he says. "Leather is like our skin in being porous. Think [about] when you get a pen mark or marker on your skin: if you treat it right away it comes out easily, versus waiting later in the day and then having to use a scrubbing brush."
Also, this may be common sense, but you probably don't want to wear your fresh white boots anywhere that there's going to be a lot of people sloshing about with colorful drinks in their hands. Which pretty much leaves out all holiday festivities. But then, of course, there's the boldest option of all, which is to don your white leather fully aware of the many perils that could befall it, deciding that you simply don't care. After all, a slightly stained, scuffed-up white boot may just be the coolest look of them all.