Two weeks ago, I purchased my first pair of L.L. Bean Boots. If you’re thinking about buying a pair in the future, but are unsure of how these boots fit because of their odd sizing, then I have a few tips to help you out.
It goes without saying that if you have the opportunity, then you should stop by one of L.L. Bean’s stores and try these on to get the best fit. While I was able to stop by their South Barrington, Ill., store, I realize that not everyone has this option available to them and if you’re buying online there are a few things you definitely need to know.
There are three basic Bean Boot types: The basic rain boot, the boot with Thinsulate lining and the boot with Thinsulate/Gore-Tex lining. I was only able to try on the boot without lining and the Thinsulate/Gore-Tex lining.
L.L. Bean recommends that you size down one full size from your typical shoe size. However, if you’re like me and wear a half size (me: 10.5) then it gets more tricky.
Also, you have to factor in whether you’ll be wearing thick socks with the boot. And finally, you have to decide if you want to also get a boot with an insulated lining.
When I was trying on boots, I was wearing a regular, thin pair of dress socks that I typically wear with all my other shoes. I did this because I plan on using these boots all year and wanted to know how they would fit with a thinner sock.
After trying on the size 9 in both unlined and lined versions, the unlined version definitely fit the best. It felt as if I was going barefoot in a pair of Sperry Topsiders (for reference, I wear a size 11 in those), but not uncomfortable and definitely room for wearing thick winter socks.
When I tried on the boots with lining, it was really tight on my toes while wearing thin socks. There was no way thick winter socks could be worn with this pair.
In the end, I opted to go for the unlined boots. I figured they’ll be cooler to wear during warmer months when it rains and they fit perfectly with thick socks. After wearing them now for a week and a half straight in the Chicago snow, I haven’t had any issues or felt regretful for not getting a lined pair of boots.
So, in summary:
- Unlined + thin socks = size down one (10.5 to 9)
- Unlined + thick socks = size down one (10.5 to 9)
- Lined + thin socks = regular size (10.5 to 10)
- Lined + thick socks = regular size (10.5 to 10)
Obviously, your feet may be different than mine. Just be aware that the lining seems to fill up the boot about half a size, which seems to throw off L.L. Bean’s suggestion of sizing down one.
On a side note: I’ve liked the boots quite a bit. It took a few wears to break the upper leather in a bit around my ankles, but no complaints. I keep a pair of shoes at work and use the boots for commuting (I think they look kind of odd paired with dress trousers).
While it seems to me that if you put in the time, know your measurements quite well and utilize thrifting/vintage stores and eBay, you can put together a decently “affordable” wardrobe and will probably dump the majority of money into tailoring and alterations on clothing.
The hardest place to find a compromise between low cost and good quality seems to be footwear, especially bought new. While you can sometimes snag some Allen Edmonds on the sale rack or online on discount, it’s rare and rarely falls below the $200 price point. Understandably, that’s expensive for some people for a pair of shoes.
Bidding on eBay is rather risky, because often you won’t be able to return them. Plus, there’s something to be said for breaking in your own pair of shoes so they fit you perfectly.
So, what’s some “entry level” choices?
For wingtips, it’s been recommended by You Have Broken the Internet and Put This On: Florsheim Limited Veblen. Looks nice, $160 and while not made in America, it’s got some nicer features that are found on better-made shoes. Plus, you have four colors to choose from.
For boots, StyleForum and Put This On have favorable things to say about L.L. Bean’s Katahdin Iron Works Engineer Boot. At $160, you really can’t complain for a boot that’s made in America, uses a Goodyear welt, and a Vibram sole that can be resoled once it wears down. Just be sure to note that it will take a while to break the boot in.
So, there you have it. Spend $320, get two staple pieces of footwear for the retail price of a pair of Allen Edmonds.
First up, the waist was too large (I’m around a 33” waist, the pants only come in even sizes). Then the legs needed to be tapered through the seat of the pants. Finally, they needed to be hemmed.
I ended up going with a 7.75” leg opening with a small bit of break. The whole operation cost $48. Probably could’ve saved some bones on the hemming if I’d ordered them hemmed, but I’d rather have my tailor nail it exactly instead of doing the guess work online.
All told, I’m happy with this pair of pants. I wore them for the first time today and they’re extremely comfortable.
The charcoal color is fairly versatile. You can wear them with a medium and light grey jacket, a navy blazer or tweed in various hues. The pants look good enough for the office, but also can work in a casual context.
The pants are still on sale for $50, and if you’re prepared to spend around $100 total for a pair that will end up looking great and fitting properly, this is a good deal.
After L.A.S. at Sartorially Inclined gave the recommendation to L.L.Bean’s Wool Flannel Town and Field Pants (currently on sale for $50 plus shipping), I decided that they’d compliment my fall wardrobe nicely, especially at that price.
Let me first start by saying that these pants are a good buy at $50. They feel nice and are comfortable. Of course, the question is, “How well does it fit?”
Well, in short, you’ll need to make a trip to the tailor.
Here’s the front view:
Now, please keep in mind that the legs are stacked in this photo because I ordered the pants unhemmed, thus I folded them up inside for the photo.
And here’s the side view:
The pants will need to be tapered and hemmed. The seat needs to be taken in and I’ll also have to reduce the waist. I’d estimate that this will probably be another $40 in tailoring for me. I’m OK with that, since I got these at what comes out to about half off.
The bottom width comes in at about 9.25”. For those of you who wear slim-fit cut pants, keep this in mind that you’ll be taking 1.25-2.25” off the leg:
When it comes to waist sizing, these pants are sized at 34” (I tend to straddle 32”-34”, so I size up and tailor down) and have about a 35” real-size waist:
(My measurements could be a bit off since I’m using a tape measure, but I feel they’re close enough to give you an idea.)
Are these worth getting? I’d say so. I plan to keep them and take a trip to the tailor. In the end, they’ll probably cost me around $80-90 total, which I think is a great deal. Just be warned that if you’re expecting something slim fitting right away, that’s simply not going to be the case.