Guys and boots go together like two peas in a pod. Predominantly worn in the colder months to keep feet warm and cemented to the ground, preventing falls on slippery surfaces, they’re a must-have item of footwear that all men should have in their wardrobe.
Naturally, they can be worn in warmer months too, with Chelsea boots, in particular, proving to be one such pair that have year-round versatility. As with any other footwear, boots come in various styles and colours, and some pairs are made for more specific purposes other than just making you look good as you stroll down the street.
So what should you be looking out for next time you’re out boot shopping?
The majority of boots – or at least, the ones you’re going to want – will have a leather upper. Being made from genuine leather means the upper of the boot will naturally form to the shape of your foot over time, making them so comfortable you’ll never want to take them off. Leather is also a great material for protection against rain and snow, as it has water-repellent properties. Of course, the more you spend, the better quality leather you’ll get in return.
You can also find boots made from other materials such as suede, which are geared more to being worn in warmer months as there is less chance of them being blasted with rain, potentially causing damage.
As for the sole, well, if you’re going to be wearing your boots in winter you’re going to want a material that will provide Formula 1 car levels of grip. If that’s the case, avoid leather – you’ll be slipping and sliding all over the place. Instead, look out for rubber soles. In case you’re conjuring up images of huge, chunky soles, fret not, for some bootmakers integrate a slim rubber layer on the bottom of their boots to keep them look smart.
The world of men’s boots is rife with various style, each with its own history and purpose. That also means some work better with certain looks better than others.
Chelsea boots are instantly recognisable, owing to their elasticated side panels. The design was first conceived by J. Sparks-Hall, Queen Victoria’s personal shoemaker, and became popular among horse riders, as well as being regularly used for just walking in, with the elasticated panels making them easy to slide on and off (helped by a small tab on rear). They weren’t originally called Chelsea boots in the early days, but their popularity with residents of the upmarket London borough, and famous faces such as The Rolling Stones, is believed to have led to their now-famous nomenclature.
Work boots were, as their name suggests, worn by workers to protect their feet from all manner of debris and weather types. No longer as they confined to the building site though, as pairs from brands such as Timberland have gained cult status. Work boots tend to have the chunky rubber soles we mentioned earlier, so are more than ideal for wearing on cold, wet and snowy days as they’ll make sure you’re well-planted to the ground and keep your feet well-protected.
When we say hiking boots, we don’t mean boots used for actual hiking up mountains with a full set of camping gear strapped to your back. Instead, we’re talking about the much more fashionable hiking boot. Similar to work boots in that they’re designed to offer optimum protection, they can also be used to complement rugged, outdoorsy outfits. Moncler is a particular champion in this arena, but other luxury brands have their own noteworthy interpretations.
Brogue boots are an extension of the Brogue shoe, exemplified by their use of perforations for detailing. Brogue boots can be found in a range of colours, and depending on which colour you go for will determine the sort of outfit they can be paired with. If you really want to prove to everyone you mean serious boot business, invest in a pair with a Goodyear welt. This is a strip of leather or rubber that runs around the entire outside of the boot, connecting the upper and the sole. It gets its name from inventor, Charles Goodyear Jr.
Chukka boots are another style with a deep history, dating back to World War II, where they were worn by British soldiers serving in India. Traditionally made from suede (referred to as Desert boots), they can also be made from leather and feature either rubber or leather soles. The name chukka is said to come from the game of polo, describing a period of play. Chukka boots are ankle-high, open-laced, unlined and feature just two or three pairs of eyelet holes.