In a previous installment of this series I highlighted the desert boot – a military inspired classic guaranteed to elevate your shoe game to a new level.
In this installment I want to continue with the boot theme but this time I want to introduce to you a style of boot that is much more amenable to the winter season:
The Chelsea boot.
The Chelsea boot is an ankle high boot that is typically made of leather, with its defining feature being an elastic siding that runs from the top of the ankle to just above the welt. This design feature allows the Chelsea boot to be laceless, instantly bestowing upon it a sense of grace and elegance.
The origins of the Chelsea boot date back to the Victorian age or right around the time when vulcanized rubber was first invented. The vulcanized rubber is what allowed bootmakers of the time to design a laceless boot that could easily be removed and put on again. The functionality of the boot caught on quickly and it wasn’t long before the Chelsea boot cemented itself as an indispensable classic.
However, the height of Chelsea boot popularity wasn’t reached until the 1960s when celebrity rockers such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were seen donning them. Evidently the name of the boots came from around the same time when a group of young artists and film directors living in west London popularized them alongside the growing Mod subculture. The media dubbed this group as the “Chelsea Set” and it wasn’t long before the name was co-opted for the boots.
How to Wear
Chelsea boots are great for the winter season when you want something a little more functional than a pair of leather lace-ups but not as bulky as a pair of gum boots. The Chelsea boot offers the perfect compromise. Not only will they keep your feet protected from the elements but they are also elegant enough to wear with a nice business suit.
In fact, to really get the most functionality out of the boots I recommend wearing them with thicker socks. Unlike a pair of lace-ups the advantage of wearing boots is that most people will never be able to see your socks. This will allow you to keep your feet warm while still looking sharp in a professional environment. A win-win situation if you ask me!
Of course the other benefit to wearing Chelsea boots is their laceless design. In a previous article I discussed my dislike of slip-on dress shoes that have become so popular among the style impaired. These men tell me that they like wearing slip-on dress shoes because they are easier to deal with. Well, the Chelsea boot is the perfect upgrade for them. Not only are they laceless (and hence easier to deal with) but they also look about a million times better.
The other great thing about Chelsea boots is their versatility. They can be worn with both formal and casual outfits. Whether you want to go suited and booted or just throw on a pair of boots with some jeans it can be done with the Chelsea boot. We’ve talked before about the importance of building an interchangeable wardrobe and that’s why I like the Chelsea boot. You get more style bang for your buck!
With that said, when choosing a pair of Chelsea boots I want you review the following key points before pulling the trigger on a pair:
- Ensure that the boot has a rounded toe. Back away from anything with too much of an edge.
- Stick with good quality leather (as with any shoe).
- Ensure that the boot doesn’t have too much of a heel lest you want to look like you raided your girlfriend’s closet.
- You’ll get the most mileage out of a quality pair of black or brown leather options.
- Just remember that if the boot has broguing it is considered to be less formal.
What about other styles?
Aside from leather, Chelsea boots are also commonly found in suede and rubber. Personally, I suggest you stick with a basic, good quality leather boot. The big benefit of leather boots is that not only can they be worn in inclement weather but they are also easier to pair with both casual and formal outfits. If you were to choose suede, on the other hand, you would be limiting your options in terms of when and how you can wear them. Besides, if you already own a pair of classic suede desert boots why even bother?
For guys looking to add a functional yet stylish boot to their arsenal they don’t need to look much further than the Chelsea boot. Its lace-less design not only makes it easier to slip on and remove, but it also gives the boot an inherently sleek and elegant form.
What’s more, the Chelsea boot can hold its own with a suit or a pair of jeans (and anything in between). This affords the boot a level of versatility that few others possess. This makes the Chelsea boot an excellent investment for guys looking to get the most mileage out of their wardrobe.
I highly recommend guys consider adding a quality pair of Chelsea boots in their winter shoe rotation. They are a style of boot that is worn by too few men these days. Donning a pair will undoubtedly keep your feet warm and looking stylish during the winter season.
Here’s to looking sharp!