Wintry weekday weather leaves men with a dilemma: How can you protect your feet from the elements while still looking respectable for the office?


Shoe designer Donald J. Pliner relies on a workhorse in his wardrobe: a sleek, multifunctional boot. 'If you're going to work in a suit and need to walk there in the cold, rain or snow, a boot that is dressy enough for a suit is key,' he says. 'You don't need to be the man in the suit sporting a pair of Uggs.'

鞋类设计师普利钠(Donald J. Pliner)靠的是衣柜里的一件百搭品:一双优质的多功能靴子。他说,如果你得在寒冷的雨雪天西装革履走路去上班,最重要的是靴子要足够考究、可以搭配西服。你大可不必身上衣冠楚楚,脚上却蹬着一双Ugg雪地靴。

Not all boots will work with suits. They 'need to flow well with the outfit, not have too much hardware on them, not be high enough that they protrude through the pants,' Mr. Pliner says.


When shopping, he looks for truly waterproof boots, rather than 'water-resistant' ones, which can repel water only up to a point. Mr. Pliner's favorite waterproof boot, which he owns in both black and rust brown, is ankle-high and has a grooved, inch-thick rubber sole that offers good traction in slick conditions.


When choosing a weatherproof shoe, Mr. Pliner says it's important to see how slippery the sole is. 'I take the shoe and I slide it along a table,' he says, noting that he inspects the sole to make sure that it is stitched on to the shoe. If it's just glued on, it's more likely to come apart in adverse conditions.


The outside of the boot is made of a synthetic material that is designed to look like good-quality leather. But when picking shoes made of synthetic materials, Mr. Pliner makes sure that the linings are made of leather. 'Your feet have to breathe,' he says. '


Mr. Pliner favors winter boots that close with zippers -- and a tongue beneath the zipper for extra protection. 'With laces, you have openings, and the water can come through the holes,' he says.


Boots are not the only answer. Mr. Pliner has all the winter shoes he buys coated with Scotchgard -- a service that some shoe stores will do for you. If not, you could do it at home or take it to a cobbler, he notes. 'Make sure you Scotchgard the sole as well -- many people don't, but that's where you walk,' he says, noting that without a coating, the sole can get damp after a while.


If Mr. Pliner's shoes do get wet, he immediately tries to dry them with paper towels. As soon as he gets back home or, if traveling, to a hotel room, he runs a hair dryer over his shoes, both inside and out. 'Not on the highest setting or you might burn up the leather,' he notes. Then, he'll ball up newspaper or small towels, place them inside each shoe, and set them out to dry overnight. The next day, Mr. Pliner puts a new coat of polish on his boots to spiff them up, and they're ready to face the elements again.


Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan