A rant on “pleather” boots and choosing leather ones

I’m done with non-leather boots.

I love boots and pretty much live in them from fall to spring. And, I’ve been wearing boots since high school, so we’re talking almost 25 years of boot love. When I was in high school and college, I remember a pair of boots lasting at least a year, sometimes two or more. I’d take good care of the leather, polishing out all the scuffs, and on a couple of occasions I even had my favorite boots re-heeled until they truly wore out.

Years later, leather-like “pleather” boots became more popular — and cheap! As everyone knows, I’m all about the bargains. When I could get a great deal on leather boots, I’d buy them, but if I found styles of boots that I like made from synthetics, I’d buy them too.

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that prices of the synthetic boots have really gone up, while the quality hasn’t. And, the last two pairs of synthetic boots I’ve gotten simply haven’t lasted.

Exhibit #1: Monet Wedge Ankle Boots

I bought these super-cute Monet wedge ankle boots at JC Penney in December 2013 for $24.99 on clearance. If I remember correctly, they were priced at $50-something prior to the sale. I love the style of these boots. They look great with everything from a pair of bootcut jeans to a long skirt. I have worn these two or three times a week since buying them mid-December — about three months ago.

Now, look more closely at them:


I can’t even polish them at this point because the toes are worn through the plastic all the way down to the fabric layer inside. On the backs, the “pleather” is peeling off the back. I’m so disappointed, because again, I love this style of boot, and they’re super comfortable. But they’re worn out after three months of off-and-on wear.

Exhibit #2: Luichiny Tall Boots

I got these Luichiny quilted tall boots from 6PM.com back in November 2013, where they were on sale for $69.99, down from $129. (Disclosure: These boots were part of my wardrobe for my Black Friday media tour — I get to keep the clothing I wear on-camera, so I did not pay for them.) I love the quilted style of these boots – they go with everything! And, I get compliments on them every time I wear them out because they do have a kind of unique look.

What don’t I love? They too are wearing out just a few months after I’ve gotten them, and I would guess I have worn them less than a dozen times since late November. I’ve only worn them out on special occasions, and the soles have no visible wear at all. But look at them:

Very disappointing. I can still wear them for a while, but the plastic surface is already peeling near the inside zippers and the toes.

Earlier this week, I was a Kohls looking for a new outfit (that shopping trip will be a separate post soon…) and I decided to browse the boot aisle for a new pair of ankle boots to wear. I could not find one pair of boots in the entire store that weren’t made of synthetic materials. And, Kohls has some very cute ankle boots in stock right now — I tried on a pair of Vera Wang boots and a great-looking pair of Rock & Republics that I really liked too. And while both pairs were on sale, both were still priced at $58 and $59 per pair.

I couldn’t do it. I looked down at the Monet ankle boots that I’d worn to the store and had a vision of my new boots looking just like them in just a couple months.

That’s when I decided that I way, done buying synthetic boots. I’m done! Part of smarter shopping is also about buying things that last, and I’d really like to get back to a place where the soles of my shoes wear out before the tops do.

Fortunately, with spring (possibly) approaching soon, boots should be coming down in price. I was browsing 6PM.com today, and I found that you can search shoes and boots by leather-only. (It’s under the “Narrow Your Options” menu on the left side of their screen. Always verify with the description though, as sometimes the words “faux leather” will make a shoe show up in the “leather” shoe results.)

And look what I found:

Shipping is always free at 6PM, and knowing what synthetic boots are selling for in the stores, I thought these prices for leather boots were fair. I decided to go with the Steve Maddens at the bottom – look at those buckles!

And, here’s hoping this pair lasts longer than three months.



  1. hammar says

    I think I’ve had my leather booties at least four years. I think I bought them at the outlet in Huntley, for maybe $30? How long has that shoe store been closed, Jill?
    I polish them religiously but this winter was pretty harsh. Starting to get quite a bit of peeling on the heel. Looks like synthetic wrapped around plastic. I used some magic marker and more polish! I still have my tall Frye boots from like 1978! Too bad they haven’t fit me in years! I always think I’m going to sell them on ebay, but never get around to it…

  2. booksbywendy says

    Hi Jill! Thanks for your post. It reminded me of my younger days (pre-marriage), when I used to buy inexpensive “pleather” shoes and boots all the time. After I got married, my husband said I should stop buying them because they didn’t last long and they always made my feet hurt after extended wear. He couldn’t understand (and still can’t) why women wear shoes that hurt their feet for the sake of fashion. I think just about every pair of shoes and boots I own are leather – even my super cute patent leather black wedge shoes that I bought about 5 years ago and still look new! I wear those things to death in the spring. I say “just about”, because I do have a couple of pairs of stretchy tall boots because I cannot wear tall boots otherwise – my calves are too big. And believe me, I’ve tried every brand. I’ll be on the lookout for bootie sales soon.

  3. DiscountQueen says

    I am so glad you posted this. Back in the day you could get decent leather boots, and like you said “take proper care” of them. You can’t do much with the overpriced fake stuff.
    I wanted to say also, that the same has happened for purses. I have had good luck with The Tignanello bags at Macy’s on clearance. They’re real leather, well made, and they last. The sales lady at Macy’s once told me not to go by the marked clearance price on the item, but to have them check it or scan it at the price checker. She said it is almost always lower than what is posted. That probably holds true for the boots also. Last bag I scored was over $200 but I ended up paying around $30. You cant beat that deal.

  4. Ruby Red says

    Try using a black Sharpie marker on those spots until you get a good leather pair. :-) It’s worked for me in the past.

  5. dancingwolves says

    leather is better…period.

    I always bought leather huskies. And they really never went on sale (but may have had dept. store coupons) so I paid around $100. But they lasted many years because I would clean, polish and put weather protector on them. I was a size 10 and am flat footed (wish I could wear heels and/or wedges).

    Now that I am getting older and my feet have changed now being a 10 1/2 to 11 with bunions, I have few choices. I had to toss the huskies I had (they were 9 years old and in good condition!) because I didn’t fit in them any longer.

    I picked up a pair of Bear Paws at The Rack (Nordstroms outlet) cause they carry size 11s. While they were very warm (not good for slush) they have hurt my feet cause they do not lend support.

    I will go back to the Rack at some point (they didn’t have many boots last month) but their selection is mostly high heeled ons. I will also search the internet to find leather boots that come in my size so any suggestions from readers for other sites will be appreciated.

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