Find out how to make your favorite pair fit, find your size and protect your boots from the weather.
By Yolanda Wikiel
My Favorite Pair Just Doesn't Fit"
A good shoe-repair shop can make surprising alterations.
Stretch the shafts up to a half inch: $25 to $50.
Widen the shafts by adding up to three inches of extra material: $50 to $200.
Insert an elastic gusset in each boot: $40 to $120.
Take in the shafts up to six inches: $80 to $140.
Widen the toe boxes up to a half inch: $15 to $25.
Shorten the shafts: $40 to $100.
"I Can Never Find My Size"
Do your feet fall on the small or large end of the spectrum? Bookmark these especially accommodating sites.
BarefootTess.com: sizes 9 to 15.
Endless.com: sizes 3 to 16.
JildorShoes.com: sizes 4 to 11.
Nordstrom.com: sizes 4 to 14.
StuartWeitzman.com: sizes 4 to 12.
"I'm Worried That Rain and Snow Will Ruin My Boots"
First pretreat leather and suede styles: Spray them with a silicone-free water repellent, such as Vectra-16 Spray ($13, footwearetc.com). Reapply at least twice a season. Have a cobbler attach rubber sole protectors (about $20) to the bottoms so that water won't seep in.
When boots get wet: Stuff them with newspaper to preserve the shape and speed the air-drying process. Next, condition leather with colorless Kiwi Leather Lotion ($7, shoetreemarketplace.com). Or remove water marks on suede or nubuck with a suede eraser, and restore the nap with a brush. (Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Kit, $9, shoetreemarketplace.com.)
If boots get stained with salt: Combine 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Using a paper towel, dab the solution onto the spots until they disappear. (Suede boots should be cleaned by a professional.)