In my 19 years on this earth, I have never purchased a pair of Doc Martens shoes. Have I pondered the purchase? Of course. What member of Gen Z can say they haven’t thought about buying these iconic, albeit painful shoes? They’re stylish, they work with nearly any aesthetic, they’re in style for three of the four seasons, and they supposedly last for a long time. As a fashion major, I know these are all great characteristics of a great shoe. However, I’m still not sold.
I knew Doc Martens weren’t for me when I borrowed a friend’s pair a few years ago (to be honest, my feet haven’t felt the same since). They looked stylish on my friend, and I wanted to give them a chance, but after a half hour, those pearly white size eight Docs made my toes feel numb. I just wanted to look like a mysterious art student from a big city, and instead I ended up looking like someone trying to rock “World War II chic.”
Doc Martens come in all colors, shapes and sizes — sandals, lace-up boots, slip-on loafers, and platforms — but to me, every version of the popular shoe seems straight up uncomfortable. After all, the classic Doc Marten lace-up boots were literally designed as work boots, and despite supposedly being intended for people who are on their feet all day, Doc Martens are the most likely shoe to leave your feet in pure pain. Docs are supposed to mold to the shape of your feet, but the only thing they’re molding are blisters. Seriously. While it takes two or three wears to typically break in a new pair of shoes, Doc Martens take three to six weeks. Sounds like a scam.
Before even getting to the “break-in” stage, it appears shopping for Doc Martens is way too complicated to begin with. Many Doc Martens lovers actually recommend buying a size up from your normal size to alleviate the pain; meanwhile, other superfans preach that you need to buy your exact normal size — or else they’re never, ever going to fit correctly. Of the many complicated things in the world, buying shoes should not be one of them. Why would I spend $120 on a pair of notoriously uncomfortable shoes just to spend more than $120 on bandaids and foot numbing cream?
At this point, it’s obvious to me that a man designed Doc Martens. According to the brand’s website, Dr. Klaus Maertens, a doctor in the German army and 25-year-old soldier at the time, originally designed the shoe to aid his recovery from a foot injury, using an air-cushioned sole to provide relief. Klaus! What a great idea…what happened? The heel and sole design were altered around 1960, and eventually, Doc Martens became cool, anti-establishment, and synonymous with music festival culture. While Doc Martens look stylish, they’re wildly uncomfortable — and yet, people continue to buy them. Someone, please help me understand why.
Truly, why does everyone love Doc Martens? I’m just saying, I’ve been able to curate many stylish outfits for years without them. When it comes to everyday footwear, I’d much rather slide on a cute pair of Converse sneakers, Vans, or even Crocs before I give my money to Klaus over at DrMartens.com. I understand that fashion is supposed to be about being bold and breaking norms, but that doesn’t mean breaking my feet. Why put yourself in physical pain just so you can say you are the “proud owner of Doc Martens”? The only thing I’ve been a proud owner of is my dog.
If wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts for over a year has taught us anything, it’s that we should normalize comfort in fashion, and I’m telling you bestie, you don’t have to ignore the cries of pain from your feet just to be considered “on trend.” Trust me, that one Instagram photo of you in your Docs is not worth endless ankle blisters for days.
I’m proud to say that I will be surviving fall fashion without making a Doc Martens purchase. I know, I know. Gen Z is rocking Doc Martens with nearly every fashion aesthetic — Y2K, dark academia, VSCO girl, E-girl/boy — but I just haven’t been able to jump on the bandwagon, and I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon. As Gen Z continues to spend $120+ on these chunky “worker” boots, I’ll opt for “Meg Ryan fall” and “’Gilmore Girls’ autumn” without heel blisters as an accessory.