It might seem strange to be considering a wintery item such as the military boot during whatever little summer sunshine we Brits get, but there is a good reason for doing so. Just as designers are always looking forward and are even now showcasing their spring/summer 12 looks, so should we look toward the shifting of the seasons. The summer sales are now all but done, the autumn collections are appearing and it will soon be time for those of you whom did not embrace the shorts and boots look to consider releasing your cold weather footwear choices from whatever dark and murky confinement you have them stored.
Now I apologise profusely to anyone who has been made miserable by the mere mention of colder weather but as we should all know, shoes are an investment piece; money should be spent and careful consideration should be employed. After all, planning ahead never hurt anyone.
The military boot has been with us for a number of seasons now, of course remaining a staple of the exceedingly popular military trend but also permeating the mainstream fashion consciousness. They are the perfect example of easy fashion; a style that can be worn with almost anything and by almost anyone.
But as we discussed before in my article on Style Overload this popularity and universal nature does not necessarily bode well; they lack that specific individuality that many look for in their style; as with so many other items they suffer from bad association and stereotyping and a great many people just don’t like them. It is here then that we should look to the alternatives – the styles that might just mark you out as the individual.
So we’ve touched on individuality; by investing in an alternative style of boot you are almost certainly going to have something a lot more unique than a most other people, but it would also be fair to say that you are also investing in something a little more subtle and timeless. You want a style that fits in that all important capsule wardrobe, and when you consider the current trends; work wear, Americana, Navajo, as well as the focus on heritage and mixing traditional classic looks with more utilitarian fabrics, styles like the work boot and desert boot become all the more inviting.
This is not to say that the military boot is dead, far from it; the military trend has still got time to run and more to give, especially as we enter the autumn, where its thicker knits, trench coats and emphasis on layering begin to replace the shorts and light knitwear we have been forcing ourselves to wear despite our generally terrible weather. They also still have a role to play in the developing trends such as biker, as well as with people pushing the style further by wearing them in new ways; as with anything this popular it takes time for the general population to move onto something new.
So how might we wear these alternatives to the military boot? Below are 3 examples; with each one I chose the boot and built the outfit up from there. Personally I believe all outfits should be built from the ground up; shoes really are that important.
The work or work style boot is but one of many alternatives. It is perhaps one of the most obvious and easiest choices as the construction and shape of both these and the military boots are remarkably similar – what you can wear with one you could easily wear with the other. However, the work boot does retain more of a casual edge and might well be better suited to looks of a more rough and ready nature; think flannel, chambray or denim shirts, straight or slim cut indigo denim and chinos or the ever timeless white tee and leather jacket.
With this look I wanted to create a sense of rugged simplicity. There is little point in over complicating a style that is designed to look practical and robust – simple chinos with classic accessories will serve almost any casual purpose. What I have put together is a safe choice but this doesn’t not mean that you cannot incorporate colour; by choosing a tan or some other muted tone with your boot, you can feel confident in using your bright, block colours. Try mixing bolder coloured chinos with a simple white or Breton style tee, framing your statement piece within two anchoring items. Or mix pastel colours together; try some lighter coloured chinos with some softer washed look tees (I like a good washed raspberry shade) to achieve some very workable end of summer looks.
For those of you who prefer a more structured and formal style, again keep it simple. Try dark wash denim jeans, a crisp white or gingham shirt and a good quality piece of knitwear (a grey v-neck jumper for example) – the perfect rough yet sophisticated man about town.
One point I would stress in particular is to tuck your trousers into your boots or at least roll them up, there is little point in paying for the extra material and then keeping it hidden.
I believe that if you are going to wear brogues then they must be worn well, there is nothing in the fashion world that irritates me more than a brogue ruined by an awful outfit; to wear incorrectly is to commit sacrilege, and risk my displeasure.
The Vibram sole on this offering from Grenson is certainly one that will divide opinion; at first I was very much against them but the more I see it, particularly in boot form, the more I wish I could afford to add them to my collection.
With this look I wanted to mix heritage brands with modern styling. The Grenson brogues and waxed Barbour jacket cover the former, whilst the latter is introduced through the details. The white scarf is a good way to add another splash of colour that coordinates with the white and red stripe shirt (gingham would work perfectly here) but doesn’t shout too loud, and by rolling up the jeans a little to reveal more of the boot you add that quintessential modern twist; altering the silhouette and shape of an outfit a surprising amount and of course, you’ve spent the money so you want to show them off.
Should you wish to be a little more Avant garde with your use of this style of boot, try mixing them with tailored items. Perhaps try a pair of dark, slightly cropped trousers and an unstructured jacket, stay with a shirt, switch the scarf for a neckerchief and have a pair of classic wayfarers at the ready for that real bohemian look.
With this selection of boot I would suggest releasing your inner dandy. An option that I had never previously thought of before researching this article, I have found myself very much drawn to the style. It is certainly a look that might raise a few eyebrows and similarly to the Vibram brogues, divide opinion – but it would most definitely mark you out as an individual.
I would point out that my intention with this look would be for jeans to be worn tucked into boots, so it becomes a battle to avoid the country gent equestrian enthusiast image; definitely Leave the gilets at home. This style is best worn by those fashionable men of the continent, so think casual tailoring; crisp shirts, structured blazers and perhaps a knitted tie for a nod to the preppy trend.
As you can see I have chosen white jeans, a daring choice both in terms of practicality and colour, the reason being that they contrast against and bring out the best boots; an outside style such as this does to a point, need to be flaunted. You could of course keep it a bit more subtle and use them to create something of a biker inspired look, choose a black pair of boots, slim black jeans and away you go.
The military boot is far from done, but change doesn’t hurt; there is a wide range of alternatives which you can wear in much the same way but will clearly give you the advantage in individuality. This variety affords you the opportunity to experiment with what you wear and how you wear it, just by tucking your trousers into a style of boot that others might not have considered is a very easy way to mark yourself out.
The above looks are just a taster of what can be achieved and I will repeat once more that I believe all outfits should be considered from the ground up. Get your footwear right and the rest will follow.
So let’s hear what you guys think:
Let me know in the comments below.
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