The Accidental Stylist is a weekly post where Mercer, our residential clumsy hipster, tries out and writes about the newest and flashiest in alternative fashion. Were you curious about bubble nails, but didn’t want to have to try them yourself? This is the feature for you.

How many of you have seen Empire Records? If you haven’t, it’s unclear to me what you are doing still reading this. If you have then it should come as no surprise to you that a young, pre-adolescent-me obsessed over the main character Corey Mason, played by Liv Tyler, in a manner bordering on idolatry. Her fashion? On point. Her naivete? Relatable. Her popularity? Enviable. Suffice it to say, she was everything that I wanted to be when I grew up. Right down to her shiny, black, patent-leather boots.


As is revealed in a brief Google search of “Liv Tyler’s shoes Empire Records,” I am not the only person that feels this way. Fashion blogs abound speaking of how to get the perfect cut-off mohair sweater and which plaid is the right plaid, but all agree: Doc Martens are the go-to boots  for this look. In fact, Elle’s article on the topic of Corey’s fashion in the film reveals that the boots actually belonged to Liv Tyler—dating them back to before the film’s release date in 1995.

The particular uniqueness of Docs is their longevity. Popular with 1960s dock workers, 1970s punks, and 1990s riot girls, they’re back in style once again and making waves in fashion magazines and runways. I remember the first time I saw a young, trendy, pumpkin-spice-drinking girl at the local college wearing a pair of Doc Martens on public transit. I was appalled.The fashion that I, and my alternative brethren, had been making our own for decades, had been taken and made into yet another commodified item to show status: instead of Uggs, the girls were all wearing Docs. It didn’t take me long to realize though that I’d been doing the same thing myself for years, using my boots to show status, albeit a different one. I couldn’t judge them anymore than I would want them to be judging me.

I continue to wear Docs almost everyday in the Fall and Winter. Why?:


They last forever

I have multiple pairs of Doc Martens, but the oldest ones I own are purple suede, over a decade old and still going strong. That is fucking insane, if you ask me. They are the oldest pair of shoes I have and can actually still wear (first pair of Chucks in the back of my closet, I’m looking at you), and are still just as solid as the day I got them.


I live in Boston, where the weather is an endless bummer; it can go from cold and snowing to warm and raining in less than 12 hours. Given that, it is important to be able to keep your feet dry and warm. Doc Martens do this—no matter which style you get. Boots, Mary Janes, loafers, you are covered.

Great accessorizing potential

Docs can say tons of different things depending on how you style them. Pair them with fun spandex for an edgier look or with a baby doll dress if you are looking to channel your inner Corey Mason. Basically anything you wear goes with Doc Martens—more than can be said for ballet flats.

Nothing is Perfect Though

 You have to break them in

If you’ve never owned a pair of Doc Martens and are looking to start, know that you will get blisters. Throw on two pairs of socks and wear them around the house for a few days, like breaking in a new  sexy pair of heels. Yes, you’ll look ridiculous, but skipping the blisters is worth it. If you are short on time and  really keen on getting out in those suckers, fill plastic bags with water, stick them inside the boots, and leave them in the freezer overnight. This will help  stretch them out, and make them a bit more comfortable. You and your feet will thank me.


Docs are pretty pricey. When you consider the fact that they last for literal decades, it doesn’t seem so bad, but it can be hard to shell out that much cash on a whim. They usually cost between $100 and $150, ranging upwards of that for fancier prints, or taller boot styles. Usually, I wait until Black Friday, and go and buy myself two pairs at the local store (Heaven, thy name is BOGO). They also frequently have clearances on their website.

Limited colors and styling

This is changing as the Doc Martens brand continues to flourish in the fashion limelight, but for a long time there were super-limited options when it came to fun colors and prints. That being said, they did just come out with an Adventure Time line, so the days of bland black and ox blood may be over.

That’s it, my lovelies. If you’re already rockin’ Docs, go on with your bad self. If you aren’t yet, but were curious, I hope this helps a bit. And, lastly, if you were just here to oogle yourself some sweet, sweet Corey Mason mohair, I can’t say I blame you.