Monday, January 05, 2009

Reflection and Self-Reinvention Part 1: In Which I Brave The MBT Boots

I've been curious about MBT Shoes and their big promises from the very first time I spotted their bulky soles in the Bliss catalog (by the way, either someone has been stealing the brochures from my mailbox lately or they stopped sending them. And now that I think of it, I didn't get the discount code for my November birthday, either. What's up with that?). What has always stopped me from ordering a pair has always been their aesthetics (or lack of) and the laces. I don't do laces.

But when the opportunity to test the MBT boots presented itself, I just couldn't resist . The boots are tall (14" shaft), fit snugly around the calve (no Uggly bulk) and are almost sleek for active footwear. They don't look like athletic shoes, which is a huge plus in my book. The question was: would I be seen wearing them in public?

The answer is yes. As part of my birthday resolutions, I decided to be more active in general, not necessarily as "exercise", but more as a lifestyle. You can't really do that in Manolos.

The last couple of months have found me tucking my jeans into the Tambos and braving the world, both for long walks around town (walking to Starbucks. Who would have thought?) and for those inevitable days of mall-shopping (this is Jersey. Malls are considered the wild wide world).

My first observation was how comfortable these things are for my poor flat feet. The fit and support in all the right spots makes for easy wearing and no pain at all, despite the odd angle of the sole, which is the whole point here. Thankfully, the 2" heel was enough for my flat-phobia.

The very first time I tried the MBTs on, I had to re-learn standing. It's true that the shoes affect your posture and force you into more awareness of the way you hold yourself. You need to re-center yourself and balance your weight differently. It was an odd sensation, but not unpleasant. Supposedly, this is what starts the extra muscle activity, which is something I only felt when spending a lot of time walking in the boots. While I never noticed I was making more effort when actually walking (it was as comfortable and pleasant as any super-comfortable shoes. Not that I would know such footwear if it hit me in the head), but after the fact I felt muscles that have definitely not been used in regular long walks ever before.

It reminded me of the first time I used Gladys, my elliptical, years ago. It was so easy and effortless I had no idea I was giving myself the thigh cramp of the century. Of course, being in much better shape than back in the day and not doing much besides walking, it wasn't even half as bad. Soon I adjusted and started wearing the MBTs regularly. It's not that they replace any of my high heels and personally I prefer them with jeans and not with skirts or dresses, but for very casual days when I try to accomplish something on top of errands/shopping, these are a good alternative that adds some value to the mall experience.

Bottom line: There's something to the hype over the MBT shoes. Of course, you actually need to use them extensively enough to make a difference, and for at least a couple of hours at the time, if not for a full day. If you do, it's an extra workout for some muscles. I'm considering getting a pair of their maryjane-alikes when it's no longer boot weather.

MBT shoes and boots ($230-$390, depending on model) are sold offline and online at many stores. As mentioned above, Bliss catalog is one source, as are and Nordstrom. The pair of boots I received was a PR freebie.


  1. You've made a wise choice in my opinion...MBT concept is great and effective too, especially if you do not like gym:-) I own MBT shoes myself and never regret that I bought them.

  2. So the frankenstein factor is minimized once worn with jeans, eh? I can see that. The cost is just what's holding me back.

  3. Nelli, I'm so glad to hear this. The shoes scared me for te longest time, but now I'm a convert.

  4. Elsie, I know how you feel. It's really expensive for frankenshoes and can only be justified if you're going to wear them enough to be effective. Thankfully, several of the new ones are decent enough to be worn regularly.

  5. Deciding to buy a pair of shoes at a discounted price is probably a good decision.


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