Discount HEWIs, expensive failures [edit: WIW: the Fryes]

A year ago I wanted a pair of ankle-height engineer boots.

I decided the Engineer 8R was the right look, and I found a size 7 pair at Yoox for around $100, the only size they had. I bought them gleefully, wore them once, and realized that the boot hits my instep in an incredibly painful way. And they're a tiny bit too small everywhere.

(I'm usually a size 6.5 but often 7 for boots. But my old Frye-imitation harness boots were 7.5 and perfect.)

So there they sat in my closet for a year, unworn. I pulled them out again last week and they weren't as bad as I remembered, but I had to change shoes after a few hours. I wonder if I could get them stretched, though they're lined with a thick synthetic fabric without much give.

Meanwhile, last month a local store had a closeout ($100) on their Sutro boots made in the same Mexican factory as Frye. 6.5 was too tight, they were out of 7, and the 7.5 felt comfortable. I wore them around the store with a thick pair of socks -- no problem. Bought them, wore them, and... pain, again. The ankle area cut into my anklebone badly and they really are too long.

So, here I am with two pairs of less-than-ideal boots. Then I stopped by Crossroads today and someone is selling the Frye Veronica short boots for $55. Size 6.5 and these really do fit me perfectly! They're definitely used, but with plenty of life left.

So what do I do? Sell the Sutros, regardless, I think. But should I spring for the Veronicas? And I can't help wondering if I should try the Engineer 8R in a 7.5, instead.

I can't decide which look I prefer, either. Opinions? The Engineer 8R is shorter and I think more flattering on my short legs and more distinctive to me. I'm often a passenger on a motorcycle and they boots would be serious protection, so that's one side advantage. I do think I prefer them, but the Veronica boots are going to be more comfortable and lighter, regardless.

Analyzing my failures here -- one was chasing after discounts rather than finding the perfect thing and paying full price. But on the other hand, I've bought full-price shoes I thought were perfect that ended up unwearable. It's just so hard for me to know. I shudder to think of how much money I've spent on shoes I had to pass on immediately. Am I the only one?

Would buying the Veronicas be throwing good money after bad?

Edit: I wore my Frye Engineers today. I think they're stretching out. They're not as painful over the top of my foot, though still bad after a few hours. Worn here with R13 relaxed jeans. I do think I like the height of these compared to the Veronicas but maybe either would be good.
Photo 1: Veronica
Photo 2&3: WIW: thrifted Club Monaco top, R13 relaxed skinnies, Frye Engineer boots.

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21 Comments

  • bj1111 replied 2 years ago

    I hear you on chasing discounts. Hard to predict how a shoe will hurt your feet unless you were them out. By then it's too late to get a refund.

  • UmmLila replied 2 years ago

    Shoes are so hard. You really don't know how comfortable they are going to be or how often you will reach for them until at least the third or fourth time out (after which they are not returnable). I think with short legs, beyond comfort, you ought to go for a pair that are relatively narrow to your calf and aren't cutting you off somewhere.

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    If you are sure that the Frye 8Rs will be comfortable I'd get them. From what I've heard, Zappos has a great return policy. But maybe first it would be worth taking the pair you have to a cobbler to see if they could be made comfortable.. I suspect that you may have better luck making the Sutros fit. They may be able to be made shorter. Did you wear them with the thick socks? I have problems with higher shaft booties being very painful on the ankle bone and wondered if thick socks would pad the area enough. But I've not kept any that give me pain to try it.

  • Diana replied 2 years ago

    We have different feet so take this for what it's worth but Ihave the Veronica shorties and chose them instead of the engineer styles because I found the engineers SO heavy and stiff that I knew I would not reach for them. I personally also preferred the taller shaft on the Veronica but mid calf boots are my thing and I know many people prefer a shorter shaft.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    VERY hard. 

    Do you need to see to a podiatrist to get orthotics? 

  • Greyscale replied 2 years ago

    I do have wonderful custom orthotics - I only need to wear them a few days a week. They're too big to fit in almost any shoes, but my favorite sneaker-boots accommodate them perfectly. I should consider thinner inserts like SuperFeet for these boots, though.

  • Greyscale replied 2 years ago

    Diana, I think you were the one who recommended the Veronicas last year when I was on my boot hunt! The thrift store today was the first chance I'd had to try them. I do actually like the clunkiness of the engineer boots, but the Veronicas are definitely more refined and more comfortable and would probably work very well for me. So hard to decide.

  • Grey Rainbow replied 2 years ago

    I have both. Years old at this point, picked up at sales but new when bought. The engineers took a bit of wear to get used to -- they hurt, but now are one of the most comfy footwear I have. Read through the Zappos reviews; helped me understand the phenomenon. I wear them when I need serious durability, in any season or climate. Like, all over China for weeks, urban and desert settings, and long overnight trains. The Veronicas are lighter in weight, and I thought I'd get more everyday use of them, but they were just as uncomfortable at first and somehow remained more indifferent. Engineer-lite in sensibility, less committed. Useful enough, not as comfy as the engineers despite lighter weight.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Greyscale, have you tried going up half a size to accommodate your orthotics?

  • gradfashionista replied 2 years ago

    I feel you. Last year, I splurged on a pair of Frye boots, had winter soles glued to them, and was in crippling pain before I had even reached the subway. Horrible and agonizing. Too cramped in the toes, and they cut in terribly in the back of my ankle. It's so hard, if not impossible, to know what will work--in the store, they had seemed so soft.

    In your case, I would probably try stretching your boots before passing them on, although I don't how much much of a difference it'll make.

    By the way, for us custom orthotics folks, Superfeet do next to nothing -- press your middle finger in the arch and watch it collapse. I use them because my shoes can't accommodate my orthotics, but they're really not ideal. Unsolicited advice and take it with a grain of salt. :)

  • shevia replied 2 years ago

    I would probably go for the pre-broken in Veronicas, but that is my thing. Return whatever you can return, sell what is left and try on the bigger size and see if it really is comfortable after all.

  • smittie replied 2 years ago

    I can only comment on looks: I really like the Veronica's best.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    I love the look of the Veronicas and hate the sound of sore feet!! 

  • replied 2 years ago

    I can comisserate as I had a similar situation last winter with a pair of rag and bone motorcycle stye boots that I really wanted to work out. I finally consgned them, to the relief of my feet, but perhaps not to my wallet!

  • Brooklyn replied 2 years ago

    I also have the Veronicas and really like them. Mine are zip up. Frye leather is stiff though. It can be a challenge to break in.

  • Bijou replied 2 years ago

    Hi Greyscale - you are not alone in buying shoes only to find that they do not work for your feet. It used to bother me, but now I take the view that I need to kiss a few frogs before I find my prince, and accept that shoe mistakes are bound to happen. 
    I can see why you like these boots - they look great and suit your style perfectly. The ones that don't fit you, get rid of them as I am sure that they only make you feel unhappy. 

  • The Sequinist replied 2 years ago

    Another Veronica's vote here!  I think they look great.  Definitely sell anything that isn't comfortable; they'll just sit in your closet taking up space.  I try to wear my shoes on carpet for a day or so in the house before I wear them out, just until I know I'm not going to return them. 

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    The Veronicas are great boots. If the short ones behave the same as the tall ones, that leather will get slouchier over time, so they may end up looking a bit shorter than they do now.

    I would sell both the Engineers and the Sutros. You can probably break even if you put them up on eBay. You may still want the Engineers in the future if you really do need a beefier boot -- but it sounds like you might need to go up half a size and swap in a better insole. 

  • Gail replied 2 years ago

    I would go with what is the most comfortable  ( Veronica) and sell the others.

  • Style Fan replied 2 years ago

    I would go with what is comfortable and sell the others too.  I have bought many pairs of shoes/boots looking for something that I could wear and have very little success.  Fryes are actually a brand I have had success with in the past.  But my feet are probably different than yours.

  • Von replied 2 years ago

    Late chime in to say I got the Veronica's last winter and they have quickly become a winter favorite. The slouch is perfect, but the foot area hasn't really broken in any, which is fine with me, it keeps things stable. I have some mid-calf engineers (not sure if they're 8 or 12), but I reach for the Veronicas more.

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