back when we wore thick-soled worker boots

Fashion websites say boots are chic must-haves for ladies these days - high ones, sleek and streamlined, with high heels. It looks fab on them models on the runways; I'm not sure it would look so hot on a chubby(ish), everyday-person type like myself in the streets of a tropical country, so I'll pass.

I kinda miss wearing boots though. When I was a teenager, I thought boots were uber cool, versatile and so damn grungy. They were perfect for hiding ugly feet (and legs) too.

It wasn't like the sleek-and-sexy kind of thigh-high biker chick footwear pervading the fashion spreads of today, of course.

Thick-soled worker boots were one of the staples of early-to-mid '90s fashion. They used to be exactly that - worker boots, i.e., shoes worn by construction workers and the like. First seen on the anti-glam boys of Seattle grunge as anti-fashion statements, kids who watched MTV thought they were cool and bought themselves some.

The most popular kind were the Dr. Martens, called "Docs" or "DMs" for short. DMs have this yellow-and-black tag sticking out like a sore tongue at the back of boot's mouth. When you wore those boots you didn't want to tuck the tags in; you let them and hang out proudly for everyone to see that you wore authentic DMs.

8 to 10-hole DMs (the most popular height) cost about P3,500 - 4,000 back then, so they also became a status symbol. Though they were originally associated with the grungy working class in the US, they were worn by rich kids in manila.

Of course wherever there are fad brands, there exist several knockoffs. The not-so-well-to-do in Manila wore Marikina-made boots, some with a black-and-yellow tag to mimic the authentic but obviously fall short.

Guys wore them with their slouchy jeans and sometimes with an even slouchier button-down plais shirt.

Girls wore them with just about anything. Shorts and a hooded shirt. Jeans, shirt and vest. A button-down granny dress, unbuttoned from above the knees downward for extra sass. If they wanted to be a true fashion victim, girls completed the ensemble with a hat adorned by a large sunflower.

Girls also wore babydoll dresses with boots. The look was popularized by Alicia Silverstone. We couldn't help noticing how cute she looked in the Aerosmith Cryin' video and tried to emulate her. There was also a lot of that look - albeit ridiculously exaggerated - in her movie, Clueless.

In my practical-and-well-grounded upbringing, I thought it was ludicrous to spend 4,000 bucks on a single pair of shoes, so I wore locally-made 6-hole knockoffs. I didn't feel too bad about that since I made no pretensions about being rich, and I was happy with my perfectly good pair of boots. As long as they didn't have a fake yellow-and-black tag, I did not look like I tried too hard. I just let those authentic DMs stick their tongues right at me.

I happened to go to a girls' private school, where I was surrounded by other girls whose parents could afford to splurge on their little darlings. Some of those girls have been seen to don their Docs with their uniforms after classes, or at the annual school fair - which looked ridiculous actually. They even wore their skirts longer than prescribed to make it look like a maxi dress; it was cool that way.

By the time I went into college, I had acquired a pair of authentic DMs, bought from a friend's garage sale, still in excellent condition. I've never minded wearing second-hand stuff as long as they're in pretty good shape; besides, I didn't want my boots to look new, I wanted them shabby and worn and grungy.

I loved those boots to bits. I wore them with shorts, with jeans, with baby dolls, with long dresses (sans the sill sunflower hat). I wore them to class, to rock concerts, to road trips, to parties and wherever; I even once contemplated on wearing them to a formal event. I eventually wore out the insoles, but I wasn't willing to let them go yet so I glued in replacements peeled out from a forgotten pair of sneakers.

I loved boots so much I even had a plan to save up for ones that went up to my knees. I thought it would look cuter with babydolls.

Within a few years I got tired of them and sold them in my own garage sale (they were still in good shape!), together with the floral granny dresses and overworn babydolls. Which was just as well, since fashion was evolving away from grunge. By the late-90's, I found a new footwear-love in platform sandals.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten rid of my old pair of DMs. Just for nostalgic reasons. It's not like I'd go out wearing them with my new babydoll dresses now - I'd totally look like an old person trying too hard to dress like a teenager stuck in a time-warp, and I wouldn't want that. Some fashion forecasts say they've spotted celebs trying to bring back the grungy granny-dress-and-boots look, but it doesn't look like it's gonna fly. We'll see.
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