Jedi Boot Tradeoffs

There's a reason why "Do you have Jedi boots?" is the first question in this flowchart: finding Jedi boots is hard.  No matter what price level you are comfortable with or which strategy you employ, the boot search can be painful and fraught with heartache. The good news is that many great options exist out there. As you'll see in the coming steps, there are many tips and tricks to help you score the perfect pair.  But for now, let's look at some of the tradeoffs that you'll likely face in your decision making process.

Material
You will almost certainly consider vinyl boots vs. leather at some point. Vinyl or "pleather' boots can look good, can be screen accurate, and are much, much cheaper than leather. In general, here are the pros and cons of vinyl boots:

Pros
  • For the costumer on a tight budget, they might be the only choice.
  • They are likely the fastest route to obtaining Jedi boots as well.
  • They are much less expensive.
  • You can get two or three pairs and try different styles.
  • They require less maintenance. Wipe and wear.
  • They can easily be spraypainted any color. If you need purple or maroon boots, Vinyl might be your best friend.
Cons
  • They are less durable. Some have reported almost immediate cracking or splitting when wearing these boots at conventions.
  • They are less comfortable. The soles in particular may not be kind to your feet. If you are doing a parade or an extended event, you really want comfortable boots.
  • They are sensitive to climate. If you wear them in a Christmas parade, or in the frigid Northlands, they will quickly become brittle. In high heat, such as a Florida summer, they can warp out of shape.
There are many reasons to consider "man made uppers," and for the occasional Jedi costumer or for a spot fill in, they might be the way to go.   But if you are thinking more long term, you will probably want leather boots. Leather boots naturally have their own pros (comfort, durability, looks, screen accuracy) and cons (cost, difficult to change color, require more maintenance) but most Jedi opt for leather.

Python skin boots? Not so much.

Style
Many of the available boots out there for women have high heels and loose or "wrinkly" shafts. Guys will often come across cowboy boots or engineer's boots with a steel O-ring and three straps per ankle. Though you might pull off something creative with those, there are better options out there. Look for low heels, snub or rounded toes, smooth leather, and flat tops.

Height
If I've learned one thing, it is this: judging height from pictures on E-bay is hard. I bought three pairs of boots before i found "the ones." Shorter boots are easier to find.  If all you can find are short boots (12-14") then you might consider adding spats.

Color
Quick: what's the most common boot color?  If you said "fuchsia," you truly do live in a galaxy far, far away. But if you said "black," then you must be amongst us Earthlings. You can walk into any good military surplus store and be greeted with racks full of shiny black boots.  Police use them too.  Black boots are everywhere.  Brown? Not so much.

The typical Generic Jedi costume is best served with brown boots. You're going for recognition here, and black equals Sith Lord in the  Star Wars universe.  But what if black is the only color you can obtain given time or budget constraints? 

First of all, there's no rule that says you can't wear black. Even the Rebel Legion formal costume standards allow black Jedi boots. If you are careful in harmonizing the other colors in your costume, you can rock the black boots and still be one of the good guys. This is especially true if you have black hair, because the "bookend" effect leads to a pleasant harmony.

Also, remember that leather is not black.  If the inside of the boot is brown then the leather has not been dyed. If the polish is faded, you have a chance to reclaim some of the natural leather color by removing the polish.  Even if you only hit the tops of creases and the natural wear areas, taking the edge off the black might be enough to soften the overall effect.

If you've found very light boots, and you happen to be blonde, again you might be onto something. Rock the angelic, pure-as-the-driven-snow pale Jedi look.  But you might also whip out the leather dye and darken those puppies. It is much easier to darken light colored boots. In fact, you can darken almost any color to a near-black chocolate brown color with some persistence.

Size
Believe it or not, size is less important than you might think. With the advent of gel inserts and high quality technical socks (If you haven't tried Thorlos, you owe it to yourself) you can get away with one, maybe even two sizes too large.  My preference is for the old hiker's trick of wearing a knee-length sock liner and a thicker outer sock. I tuck my pants leg between the socks. It keeps my pants leg straight and keeps my feet insulated from blisters and fatigue. My first troop was an eight hours, all day on the floor, bending for pictures and walking up and down stairs. Yet my feet were fine at the end of the day. 

So much for going bigger. The opposite is not true: going smaller is quite difficult. You already knew that, but beware! If you find a great deal on ebay or another online source, be very wary of the sizes, in particular the width.  Men's and women's widths are different, and a B is quite narrow. Ask me how I know. Speaking of men's vs women's sizes, if you see a pair of boots languishing in a too-good-to-be-true price range, make sure it isn't a misposted Men's pair of boots in a women's clothing auction, or worse a kid's size 13 instead of an adult's.

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