All The Rage

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Who's Sorel now?

December 28, 2009 | 11:32 am

I just got back from spending Christmas with my family back in Vermont. The last thing I did before leaving for the trip home to Los Angeles was slip out of my Sorel boots, and tuck them into the back of the coat closet, where they will remain until my return, when I walk in the door and slip them on again.

Rage_sorels The chunky, Arctic-caliber boots have been my cold-weather-winter footwear of choice since childhood, and the current pair have lasted me more than two decades during which all I've needed to do to keep them in top shape is replace the liners (the early ones were a kind of felted fabric, the current ones are a toasty Thinsulate)

The liners were always key, since once you were safely removed from the inclement New England weather, they could be pulled out and warmed by a fire (or inverted over a heat vent) until needed again.

I was so enamored of my seasonal Sorels, my fraternity brother Frank "Fort" McHenry once remarked that he could always tell when winter was on its way by noting when I decided to don the boots, and that my decision to put them away for good was a surer indicator of spring weather than keeping tabs on Punxsutawney Phil.

Not having bought a pair of Sorels in more than 20 years, and having lived in Los Angeles for the last 13 of those, I continued to think of the Canadian label as a functional but hardly fashionable brand that had its peak in my youth and then lumbered off into obscurity.

So I was a bit surprised to see that the J. Crew website started selling a women's Sorel boot just before Rage_sorel2Thanksgiving and a men's version on Dec. 1 (they also carry a kid's Sorel, too). A few weeks later, I discovered that the Nordstrom at the Grove had a substantial selection of stylish choices for women (before we headed east, my better half picked up a swanky pair in black dubbed the "Joan of Arctic," for $120). And just this morning I received an e-mail blast touting the wide selection of Sorels at -- with an offer of an additional 20% off all sale merchandise using the promotional code WINTER.

You certainly won't need them to traverse the streets of Los Angeles, but if your winter itinerary includes shuffling through some powder (say, a ski weekend in Aspen or the Sundance Film Festival), and you feel the need to boot up, (re)consider a trusty (and surprisingly stylish) pair of Sorels.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: The author's trusty men's Sorel boots circa 1989, top, and a current incarnation for women, bottom, the "Joan of Arctic" ($120 at Nordstrom). Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

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