I found out my boyfriend of two years cheated on me. What should I do with the Dr. Martens he gave me? —Sophie, 19, England

Oh, angelcake! I hope you are healing well, surrounding yourself with friends and warmth, and indulging in as much self-care as possible. Breakups can be hard, and even more so when there’s a wack-ass reason like cheating attached. Let’s look on the upside for a minute: those Dr. Martens! I like the idea of reinventing a memory that was previously attached to something that caused pain. I know it’s easy to get rid of things that remind you of someone that’s not in your life anymore due to an uncool reason. I myself have gotten rid of things that reminded me of ex-friends and former boos, but if it’s something cool like a pair of Docs that can be easily made-over, then why not try?! We are going to deconstruct the fuck out of those boots and give them a brand new life. You could…

  • Paint on your Docs. You can get really creative with your shoes by using them as a canvas for your artwork. This article will tell you exactly what supplies you can use to paint your shoes a different color. According to a lot reviews I’ve lurked, the brand Angelus appears to be the people’s choice when it comes to the best paint for shoes/leather. People who have used spray paint or regular acrylic paint have complained about it rubbing or peeling off shortly after. That being said, if you want a temporary artwork and the ability to play around with them again later, that type of paint might not be a bad idea after all! If you are into the idea of doodling on your shoes, the question is, what should you draw? Hearts, broken hearts, butterflies, eyeballs, flowers, UFOs, planets, phrases, quotes, and pizza are just some ideas for you! You can also use stamps dipped in paint to decorate your boots. Here is a really cute DIY vid about stamping your feet (hee), but they use spray paint which, again, I don’t recommend if you want to make permanent marks.
  • Glitter-ify ’em! You can also cover your whole shoe, or whatever parts of it you want, in glitter! Angelus makes a glitter paint that seems to work great.
  • Switch out the laces. Shake things up by replacing the laces with silk or lace ribbon, or colored or printed shoelaces. There are also cool vintage laces available for purchase on Etsy, like these and these. Just make sure you measure the original laces that your boots came with so you know what length to buy.
  • Embellish the hell out of them! Hit up the jewelry supply section of your craft store and look for cool metal chains, chain mail, and cute charms to attach to your Docs. Weave them through shoelaces, or attach to the eyelets using a set of jewelry pliers.
  • Add badass studs. Dr. Martens sells a pack of metal spikes that you can attach to your boots, but you can find different styles elsewhere, like these pyramid studs, heart-shaped studs, stars, and colored studs. Here’s a how-to on affixing studs to leather, along with a list of the tools you’ll need.

Hope this craft project is as therapeutic as it is fun. Send me a pic of the finished product! —Marie

I’m currently around a size 18 in jeans and a 2-3x in shirts. I have a definite preference for brick-and-mortar stores and thrift shops, and my problem is that my closet is undergoing growing pains. When I was 12, all I wanted to wear was black, and so that’s all anyone ever expects me to buy, and I’m sick of it. I once picked out a cute green and blue rugby/boyfriend cardigan, and my mom questioned it to the point I don’t feel confident wearing it anymore.

I’m heading to college in August, and I don’t have any of the basics. I only just got two white T-shirts, and that’s because I took them from my mom. I already have body image issues because of my weight and my background with disordered eating, but, lately, just trying to find something to wear in the morning makes me want to burst into tears. How can I build my wardrobe? What’s the secret to not hating what you look like? Am I ever going to be able to look at myself without feeling like there’s something wrong? —Kayls, 18, Indiana

Ugh, I think we’ve all had a phase that our friends and family don’t quite understand we’ve outgrown; while I think they’re generally well-intentioned, it can still be annoying. The good news: This is the perfect time to break away from what you’ve been known to wear and sort of reinvent yourself. You’re headed to college, and so the people you already know probably expect a change during this transitional time in your life, PLUS, the new people you’ll meet in school will have no preconceived ideas about what your style is like, so it can be anything you want—no questions asked!

I totally agree that shopping at brick-and-mortar stores is tough when you’re young and plus-sized. There are places like Forever 21, H&M, Torrid, Target, and Old Navy, but the truth is, 90 percent of the really great plus-sized stuff is only available online. It’s not fair, but once you embrace online shopping, I promise it’s worth it. (Pieces from ASOS make up the vast majority of my closet!)

When it comes to rebuilding your wardrobe, the first step is figuring out what exactly you want your style to be. You can start with these basics that I encourage everyone to have, because they’re stylish and comfy (a must in college):

  • A few perfect tees in different styles and colors. Right now, I’m loving distressed tees like this, and classic striped tees are always a win.
  • A great pair of stretchy skinny jeans. These are higher-waisted and comfortable, and you can literally wear them every day.
  • A moto jacket. There is nothing this won’t go with, and it automatically makes you look more badass.

Once you have those covered, you can add fun pieces like colorful dresses, printed shorts, jumpsuits, cool blazers, and midi skirts. There are tons of options; it all depends on the look you want to achieve. Some cool ideas:

capt

Clockwise from top left: dress, $51, ASOS; dress, $64, ASOS; shorts, $16, Boohoo; jumpsuit, $90, ASOS; blazer, $80, Simply Be; midi skirt, $100, Eloquii.

There’s no wrong way to experiment with different colors, styles, and silhouettes to see what makes you feel best; you’ll know when you put something on that just feels right. It’s a bummer that your mom made you feel insecure about your cardigan, but I’m glad you’ll have some time away at school to try things on your own. Which brings me to my next point…

While there’s no secret answer to loving yourself, I do think surrounding yourself with positive people is the most important thing you can do. Having friends or family members who talk negatively about their own or other women’s bodies is really toxic, and does nothing but make us feel bad about ourselves. If you find that this is something your friends or loved ones are doing, try changing the subject—or, if you’re close enough, try explaining why it’s not a good idea. Lots of people become more interested in politics and feminism in college, so you might find that these conversations naturally come up more often. And there’s always the internet. Many of us have a tough time finding like-minded people when it comes to body positivity, and having an online community is really amazing. Check out plus-size fashion blogs: Not only will they help you grow your closet, but the visual representation of people who have bodies similar to yours will also help your self-esteem. Hang in there. Because, yes, it is very possible to look in the mirror and love what you see. I’m proof! —Gabi

I’ve been feeling a lot of ’90s vibes and want to channel them into my clothing. I have no idea where to start and what to look for. Is there anything out there that won’t prompt lectures from my mom, like, “This is not school appropriate,” “You look like a mess,” or, “Why don’t you wear something more…normal?” —Mya, 15, North Dakota

A good thing about copping style from the ’90s is that there are a lot of varieties, like grunge-style flannel, babydoll dresses with boots, pastel miniskirts, and sporty crop tops. When it comes to channeling a certain era, I always love to draw on the looks of film characters, of course. Some of the most iconic ’90s outfits were borne of movies of that time.

First, there is Cher from Clueless. If you’re into the idea of A-line mini skirts, fuzzy sweaters, Mary Janes, thigh-high socks—all very ’90s-esque clothing—let Cher be your muse. I love this pink pleated skirt, or this suede one, as paired with a fuzzy sweater like this one (which is on sale!), over-the-knee socks, and spectator Mary Janes. An outfit as cute and put-together as this will be up to Mom’s standards! When I was in high school, I replicated some of Cher’s looks and got the stamp of approval from my own mom, Fannie. Corey (Liv Tyler) from Empire Records rocked a similar look, too.

If you want a look that’s more casual, you can go kind of grunge. Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life was the anti-Cher. Try a button-down flannel top over a crop top and ripped jeans. You could also do a babydoll dress over colored tights or printed leggings and boots, or exchange the tights for fishnets. Ripped tights are cool, but that’s prob where Mom will be like, “YA LOOK MESSY.” Don’t forget a velvet choker necklace!

Another VERY ’90s look? Gwen Stefani rocked Dickies work pants with tank tops and baby barrettes. Ringer tees and flared jeans are a cute ’90s-does-’70s look.

Chances are, you won’t have too much trouble finding clothing and accessories, given all these options. You just have to figure out what sorts of styles you’re drawn to! Have fun! —Marie

I’m traveling to Ireland in early September. I need a pair of shoes that are comfortable enough to wear while touring the city and countryside, but stylish enough to wear out at night. I’m thinking something like an ankle boot, but anything sturdy will do. I’m willing to spend $150, but I’m also ballin’ on a budget, so the cheaper, the better! I need to be able to wear it with jeans as well as skirts/dresses because I’m not trying to bring extra shoes on the plane. —L., Boston, MA

I commend you for only bringing one pair of shoes on your trip. When I pack to sleep over at a friend’s house, I usually throw at least three pairs of shoes in my bag! I know we’re just going to sit around eating pizza and watching Lifetime movies, but MAYBE I will need this pair of glitter platforms just in case someone calls us to attend a red-carpet event last minute, I’M JUST SPECULATING.

As much as I love fancy shoes, I’m living a walk-everywhere-you-can-to-save-money kind of lifestyle, which has made me an expert at comfy shoes that can take me from day to night. If there were a game show where one of the challenges was taking an outfit from day to night, I think I would win. (Other potential challenge on this hypothetical game show: digging through your purse to find your keys without smudging your wet nails, putting on mascara in a moving car without poking yourself…JK this isn’t a game show this is called BEING A WOMAN ON THE GO.)

A good walking shoe should be like a good ice cream flavor—chunky, supportive, but still really cute in pictures. With those specifications in mind, here are a variety of options for you!

cap

​Clockwise from top left: Dr. Martens Patent Mary Janes, $100, ASOS; Dr. Martens Floral 8 Eye Boot, $75, 6pm; Dr. Martens Leather Tassel Loafer, $125, ASOS; The WhitePepper Grey Chunky Brogues, $70, ASOS; Chelsea boots, $65, Topshop; River Island Chunky Strap Mary Janes, $44, ASOS.

A pair of chunky Mary Janes or Oxfords are nice because you have the option of pairing them with socks or wearing them barelegged for two different, but equally cute, looks. If you want to go the ankle boot route, the above simple Chelsea boots have amazing reviews that claim they’re super comfortable and versatile.

The most expensive options are the Dr. Martens Mary Janes, boots, and loafers, but they’re renowned for being super quality and comfy! Also, if you’re into the floral Docs, I found a whole bunch of different patterns at a deep discount.

I hope I’ve helped you find the sturdy shoes of your dreams. Have fun in Ireland and, since I know you’ll have room in your suitcase from not having to lug a bunch of shoes around, bring me back a souvenir! —Gabby ♦