Your mind probably turns to parkas, scarves and beanies when it comes to clothing designed to battle the elements, but it should be your feet you think of first. It’s these body parts that’ll take most of the damage during winter after all. So, when it comes to footwear, wearing plimsolls in the bleakness of these months would be like sailing the Atlantic in a child’s paddle boat.
Cue combat boots, the heavy-duty option that looks good, protects, and will stand the test of time with ease. With origins in the military going back to the Roman Empire, similar boots have long been a way of giving the wearer more grip when tackling mud, ice, snow and all round tricky terrain.
“Combat boots are a great staple for every guy’s wardrobe”, says Arron Dickinson, a personal shopper at Selfridges. “They help create easy looks and are perfect for switching up your favourite outfit. From teaming them with a smart suit for the office to creating a relaxed every day look. They really are versatile shoes.”
Now, fingers crossed, we hope none of you will be enlisting in any wars soon, but these practical boots translate well into civilian life, even without the need to go the whole hog with a Libertines-esque guards’ jacket. In fact, you can pretty much wear them with anything, smart or casual dress.
If you do plan on doing anything remotely strenuous or outdoorsy in them, just remember to take steps to look after them. “Always use a boot tree when they aren’t being worn to maintain the shape and structure,” says Michael Larson, product design and development manager at heritage footwear brand Red Wing. “Brush any dust off and use a damp rag as necessary [to clean]. Condition the leather every so often too, being sure not to overuse. Do this and they’ll be your friend for a long time and age beautifully with every step you take.”
Four Ways To Wear Combat Boots
Boots and workwear go together like shirts go with ties, coffee with croissants and pineapple with pizza. (Yes, that last one does work.)
Best of all, because we’re guessing that you’re not actually going to be doing manual labour in this outfit, don’t be afraid to mix up the textures of your boots. Brown suede or nubuck, for example, goes perfectly with dark denim.
For everything above the combat boots, stick to the staples of the workwear cannon: a pair of dark jeans, a chore jacket with utility pockets, a simple T-shirt and a beanie to finish it all off.
Some days we simply don’t have the mental capacity to clash patterns or experiment with new silhouettes. Some days we just want to return to the safe embrace of old faithfuls.
Luckily for those cases, combat boots can be an effortless way to elevate a simple look. “I wear mine with any kind of denim,” explains Tim Little, creative director of British shoe brand Grenson. “The trick is to avoid bottoms that are too long, otherwise you don’t see the leg of the boot.”
Whether you opt for jeans or trousers, keep the fit cropped or roll up the hems yourself. For a sleek, minimalist look, top this with a monochrome T-shirt and neatly cut bomber jacket.
Bored of schlepping to your desk in the same old work shoes? If you’re lucky enough to work in a smart-casual office, ditch the Derbies in favour of a pair of boots to show some creativity in the office.
Doing so with commando sole kicks will be just enough for your workmates to go, “nice crepes, mate”, but not too much to send Tracy from HR into a meltdown over your anti-uniform revolution.
To avoid skewing too dressed down, rather than going for the traditional worn out appearance, look for styles with a slight sheen. Marry these with some drawstring or pleated trousers, a knitted polo shirt and lightweight coat and no one will even suspect that you’ve just cheated the work footwear system.
The Warcore Trend
The outfit that combat boots were quite literally made for and, as coincidence would have it, a massive street style trend for the past few seasons.
The ‘warcore’ trend is a bold look that requires going all in. So much so that any passing tourists may think there’s a state of emergency going on.
Go 100 per cent hypebeast with black cargo trousers, a long sleeve T-shirt layered underneath a utility vest, chest pack or cross-body bag for a killer streetwear look. Maybe just steer clear of the ammo belt.