Essential Guide to Men’s Boots From Chelseas to Jodhpurs to Workwear

Collection of mens boots

[Feature Image by Articles of Style]

Pretty much every guy can rock sneakers. And most men own a pair of dress shoes. Boots, however, are a heavily underutilized form of footwear, and we think it’s because not many people know where to start. That’s a shame, since men’s boots come in such a wonderful range of designs, heights, materials, etc.

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In this essential guide, we’re outlining the different types of men’s boots and giving some pointers on how and when to wear them:

Men’s Boots: Chelsea Boot

men's boots cheslea boots

Thursday Boot Company

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Pull-on

Style: These close-fitting boots have an elastic side panel, and they are typically made of suede. Men and women first wore Chelsea boots in the 1800s Victorian era. Then in the ’60s, these boots made a re-emergence in British mod fashion when they became the Beatles’ footwear of choice.

men's boots chelsea boots

The Idle Man

How to wear it: The Chelsea boot is semi-casual but trendy. Wear them with dark jeans and a blazer, sports coat, or leather jacket.

Men’s Boots: Cap Toe Boot

men's boots cap toe boot

Cole Haan

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Laces

Style: Cap toe boots feature a straight-seamed cap over the toes. These leather boots are considered more formal and can be worn with dress slacks, chinos, nice jeans, and blazers.

men's boots cap toe boots

J. Crew

How to wear it: You can wear cap toe boots with a winter suit and overcoat. Think: swank Sherlock Holmes.

Men’s Boots: Wingtip Boot

men's boots wingtip boot

Frye

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Laces

Style: These low-heeled leather boots are similar in style to cap toe boots. Instead of a straight seam across the toes, though, wingtips feature a “W” shaped cap that extends toward the heel. Wingtip boots have decorative perforations along the seams. Originally called “brogue shoes,” wingtips used to be considered a strong outdoor shoe, made from untanned leather. They’re now often worn in offices, though still considered more casual than cap toe boot shoes.

men's boots wingtip boots

Nordstrom

How to wear it: Wingtip boots are semi-formal. You can wear them with a flannel suit or with dark jeans, a collared shirt, and a sweater.

Men’s Boots: Desert Boot

men's boots desert boots

Kenneth Cole

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Laces

Style: These boots originated in the ’50s as combat footwear worn by British soldiers in WWII. They feature fewer eyelets than the average lace-up boot, making them easier to slip on and off. Now, desert boots are often made of tanned leather or suede, and they typically have crepe soles, which are soles made of latex and rubber. These boots exist in the territory between formalwear and combat, and they are signature to rogue style stars like legend Steve McQueen.

Desert boots are a type of Chukka boot. The Chukka style is any ankle-high boot with a low number of eyelets.

men's boots desert boots

East Dane

How to wear it: Desert boots are part of your “likes artisan beer” and “hipster variety.” Wear them with a pair of nice, rolled pants.

Men’s Boots: Jodhpur Boot

men's boots jodhpur boots

Carmina

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Pull-on

Style: This is an ankle-length riding boot with a rounded toe and low heel. The Jodhpur boot’s straps are a defining characteristic. They attach to the vamp and can be fastened with a buckle. These boots originated in India during the ’20s and were worn by local polo riders. Then in 1927, Saks Fifth Avenue began selling these boots as fashion wear in the West. Vogue once wrote that Jodphur boots should be worn with a swagger stick and canary string gloves.

men's boots jodhpur boots

Thursday Boot Company

How to wear it: Jodhpur boots are considered dressy, though not exactly formal. They’re a little exotic and ornate. Wear them with a trendy blazer or cool leather jacket.

Men’s Boots: Riding Boot

men's boots riding boot

Smartpak

Height: Knee

Laces or Pull-on: Pull-on

Style: Riding boots come up to the knee, and they are often made of patent, or shiny, leather. These boots are for dressage, formal fox hunting, and show jumping. Tall boots once protected riders’ legs from the saddle. That is, until Jodhpur riding pants with baggy thighs came along, and ankle Jodhpur boots became the new riding boot.

men's boot riding boot

Massimo Dutti

How to wear it: We’re going to be honest: this is not an easy one to pull off. But the image above is a good example of how you can dress down an otherwise very noticeable boot. Wear riding boots with a collared shirt or blazer and some chinos.

Men’s Boot: Harness or Motorcycle Boot

men's boots motorcycle boots

Extreme Biker Wear

Height: High-Ankle to Mid-Calf

Laces or Pull-on: Pull-on

Style: These boots made of thick, heavy leather protect motorcycle riders from exhaust pipes and engine heat. They have a low heel and unadjustable straps closed with metal rings. Harness boots will sometimes include a built-in steel toe cap and metal shank in the heel to protect riders from injury.

men's boots harness boots

Fanpop

How to wear it: Harness boots have an alternative and dark aesthetic. That’s why characters from The Vampire Diaries would be sporting them. If you’re looking to add a heavy-duty or metal edge to your look, wear harness boots with dark colored clothing. You can also opt for brown boots instead of black, for a less intense look.

Men’s Boot: Cowboy Boot

men's boots cowboy boots

El Presidente

Height: Mid-Calf

Laces or Pull-on: Pull-on

Style: These boots, typically made from cowhide, have a low heel and a rounded or pointed toe. They are often decorated with ornate top-stitching or geometric cutouts and have an under-sling heel–that is, a heel that curves inward. As the name suggests, these boots were originally worn by American cattle ranchers in the 1860s. Some cowboys wanted nicer boots to wear into town and thus came the ornate designs. Today, some cowboy boots are even made of exotic alligator, snake, or eel skin.

How to wear it: Wearing cowboy boots with anything but denim would be almost sacrilegious. Keep your look casual and rugged. Wear a loose-fit collared shirt, maybe even a Western-style button down, to pull off the country rustic aesthetic.

Men’s Boot: Workwear Boot

men's boots workwear boots

Red Wing

Height: Ankle

Laces or Pull-on: Laces

Style: Workwear boots have thick, water-resistant material and rubber soles. They have a chunkier, sturdier look. Originally intended to protect workers from chemical substances and water, snow or mud, workwear boots are perfect for hiking. These boots also became fashion staples in hip-hop and punk scenes with popular brands like Doc Martens and Timberlands.

Actual safety boots may feature a steel cap over the toe to protect wearers from debris-related injury.

Read Workwear Style: How to Wear It

men's boots workwear boots

Blue Collar Prep

How to wear it: Workwear is at the intersection of street, grunge, and trendy. You can pair workwear boots with light denim and a long overcoat, Kanye style.

Looking forward to your new sartorial adventures. Which boot style would you try first? Let us know in the comments.

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