Back in the day -- like during the Civil War -- Frye Boots were the go-to boots for tromping around battlefields, spurring on a recalcitrant horse, wrangling steer at the ranch. They were the boots that never died. They were the boots in which you got things done. (And indeed, a few years back, in another life, we found the Frye Harness boot extremely useful for stomping through the snow in bone-chilling Afghanistan.)
They were utilitarian and rugged, and cool -- if, that is, you were trying to rock that grunge girl thing in the tail end of that other century, when Kurt Cobain was still around and we were all a whole lot younger.
But they weren't exactly the must-have item if you wanted to play dress-up.
Somewhere along the way, Frye Boots went through a makeover, morphing into a fashionista's favorite plaything: Sure, you can still get the old standbys. But now, you can go all Victorian with a sweet button-up bootie. Roll into work sporting a chunky platform, or stroll around town in a pair of '60s mod, flat boots, channeling Edie Sedgwick.
The quality is still there: Hardworking, indestructible, comfortable. (Though you might have to break them in first.)
Still, we wouldn't advise taking the slick little Ava Shootie with you to Kabul.
-- Teresa Wiltz