Okay gang, I am about to reveal a deep and shocking secret about myself. I mean this is some next-level Final Season of Oprah stuff that’s about to go down. Ready?
I am, at times, a teensy bit particular.
I will graciously wait while you try to reclaim some sense in your now topsy-turvy universe.
That being said, there’s a difference between being particular and being unreasonable. If I’m going to my favorite Highly Questionable Taco Cart (Taqueria Las Rosas #2 holla at your girl! Orale!) I don’t expect haute cuisine, I don’t ask too many questions. I just take my taco, try not to knock over any of their fiber optic/ patriotic Jesus statuary and call it a noche.
The same goes for shoes and clothing. If I’m buying a $50 dress, I expect a few threads hanging here or there or less-than-luxe fabrication. If I’m dropping $500? My standards are a lot higher.
My standards were high when I ordered two pairs of boots from London-based Duo.
Duo boots aren’t astronomically expensive –most of the boots run around $225-$325, perfectly reasonable for a pair of quality European-made leather boots– but their flagship fitting room is on Savile Row, a street in London that’s been shorthand for flawless bespoke tailoring for over 200 years.
You do not mess around on Savile Row.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my initial experience with Duo was not a pleasant one.
Even allowing for the cultural difference (I’m not saying Texans are necessarily nicer people, I’m just saying you think twice about being rude to someone if you’re in a concealed handgun state) I was Not Impressed with the attitude I received from the customer service when after close to a month, I asked after the whereabouts of my boots. That being said my other interactions have been –I won’t say overly warm, but the British didn’t build an empire on warmth– but absolutely satisfactory.
Getting into them is a wee bit difficult as the zipper only goes up to the knee, but a full zip would ruin the look. The toe box is nice and roomy for a wide foot with an elegant almond toe and surprisingly cushy padding, and although the ankle was a bit loose for my personal preference –I have slender ankles for someone with big calves– they were cut generously enough to fit a thick-ankled woman without looking slouchy on someone with slimmer ones. I ordered my regular size and went down a centimeter on the calf fit because leather –especially suede– stretches and I don’t like the slouch-boot look.
The suede is excellent and uniformly soft with only minor flaws in the nap.
These flaws are just going to happen with any natural material and I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and softness. I don’t know what animal they use but it feels like lamb or kid, both of which make suedes with a much finer texture than calf. If it IS calf then I am even more impressed.
The lining was another happy surprise: an incredibly supple fuchsia nappa leather extending to the top of the zipper. The over-the-knee part is finished with the same black suede as the outside, which means you can wear them cuffed to knee-height if your little heart desires.
The stitching is small and even, with the thread changes noticeable but not prominent (anyone who asks why I care about thread changes has clearly never been poked in the leg all day by a bristle-stiff loose end from an improperly secured thread change) and the turns are sharp, no lazy finishing here.
I noticed a few less-than-straight cuts on the leather lining, but I’d classify that more in the realm of adding charm than detracting from the quality.
These are easily the most comfortable fashion boots I’ve ever worn.
I took them out of the box and wore them for eight hours straight. There was a bit of rubbing on my big toes, but that’s my own dumb fault for not wearing socks (laundry has not been a priority as of lately here at Château Gâteau). I’ve worn them several times since and even when wearing them for evening after being in 4″ stilettos all day, they didn’t bother me at all.
The 9 cm heel is nicely balanced and the small platform gives a bit of height and comfort without being all “OH HAI I’M A PLATFORM BOOT!” The padding and arch support are both more than adequate, plus since you’re zipped in from here to eternity, you’re MORE than secure once you’re in them.
Room for Improvement:
I would without hesitation recommend these boots to anyone just as they are. However, there are a few changes that in a perfect world would’ve taken them from great to spectacular.
They have a rubber sole. On a luxury boot, the sole really ought to be leather. The sole itself is actually cute, but it’s rubber and slightly cheapens the look. I could see how you might say “but wait, what about bad weather?” to which I would ask you if you would wear toe-to-thigh suede in the rain.
The heel taps aren’t great. They’re not bad, but I’m not hard on my shoes and these showed signs of wear the very first day, so if you want these to be in heavy rotation you’ll be replacing your taps sooner, potentially much sooner, rather than later. In fairness, Duo does mention you’d have to replace the taps and Lord knows I’ve gotten crummy taps on shoes three times as expensive as these, so while I was mildly disappointed, it’s not the end of the world.
There’s no excuse for an exposed zipper. The Tulip is part of Duo’s Boutique Collection “offering the finest quality leathers, designer detailing and superior craftsmanship.” A boot like that should have a covered zipper unless the exposed zipper is part of a distinct design element. It’s just a more elegant look and it indicates the sort of craftsmanship and attention to detail you expect for a luxury boot. Yes, making a covered zipper is more expensive and time consuming, but I’d be willing to pay a premium for it and I doubt I am alone.
The website is not especially user-friendly. You cannot search the site for keywords, so if you wanted to search for “Tulip” you’d have to browse through the pages of boots, and when you click on All Boots they really mean All Boots that are not on sale or stuck somewhere else on the site. Determining whether your size is available is a pain too, you have to click on your size and then click on the number and it will think for a while and eventually tell you whether it’s available or not. Although you can search by size, I’m not entirely convinced I get ALL the correct results. There’s got to be a better, faster way.
These are great, investment-quality boots, well worth the retail price and even more of a deal on sale and although they’re not The One True Boot, they receive the highly-coveted Plumcake Pick. Not only are they beautifully constructed, but they’re dead sexy too. The second time I wore my Tulips I paired them with light charcoal tights and a body-conscious color blocked sweater dress in black, charcoal and winter white. As I was walking towards my destination, a man was coming the opposite direction. He was clearly looking at my boots (yes, boots, with a “t”) and as I passed, he stumbled. THOSE are powerful boots.
Please be advised if you order from the UK to the US, your order will most likely take the long-side of a month to arrive and shipping is $20 per pair of boots, which will be mailed separately. While the shoes are made in Europe out of Italian leather, I cannot tell you whether they are constructed in countries with EU labor laws.