Chelsea boots are a classic design that derive from traditional riding boots. Because of this they have elasticated sides around the ankle. This is ideal for today’s world as you can slip them on instantly and yet still look great.
The secret to buying the best chelsea boots is to get a good fit around the ankle, otherwise you look like you’re standing in buckets. A snug fit on the other hand reveals your lower leg smoothly conforming to a beautiful leather shoe. This hardly matters when you’re standing but as soon as you sit down the top of the chelsea boots becomes much more relevant.
If you are being especially daring you can get chelsea boots with coloured elastic accents. Chelsea boots themselves come in a wide range of colours.
How to Wear Chelsea Boots
The great thing about chelsea boots is they go with just about everything. They add a smart touch to a pair of jeans but equally look great with a suit. For most uses a pair of black chelsea boots is all you need, although brown leather or suede is great for more casual looks.
High quality designs come with a hand stitched leather sole which looks the best – although you may want to have a cobbler add rubber on top for extra grip and to last longer. Alternatively, plenty of brands offer a rubber sole which may not be as elegant but offers great durability for everyday use.
Are chelsea boots appropriate for formal wear? Of course! In fact, they are a Victorian invention credited to Queen Victoria’s shoemaker J. Sparks-Hall, who said the queen herself “walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention”
By the late 1840s, the fashion began to catch on and remained popular right up to the early 20th Century.
The Chelsea boot name came from its resurgence in the 1960s when they became associated with Swinging London and cultural icons like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Winklepicker-style “Beatle Boots” tend to resemble Chelsea boots with a pointed toe and Cuban heel.
What Chelsea Boots To Look For
It is difficult to find good quality chelsea boots when you have a huge range of prices and materials to choose from. Part of the problem is many shop reviews you read will be from customers within the first few weeks of use – when what you really need to know is how they are faring six months down the line.
If Chelsea boots have a stitched leather sole – or even better a Goodyear Welted sole – then you know you have a quality pair of boots. On the other hand, if plastic or rubber soles have been glued or bonded onto boots then these will fall apart relatively quickly.
It is surprising how many expensive designer brands will still use bonded soles. These are not made to last more than a season, although if you don’t wear them all the time you can probably extend this up to a few years.
Stitched soles are designed to be worn and then replaced so you can wear the same boots for many years. Many manufacturers will even recondition your shoes when the top has worn out so you can keep your favourite pair that have stretched to fit you over time.
This is something else you should consider when considering Chelsea boot brands and is more likely among premium makers like Loake. Their repairs site says that on arrival, the shoes are inspected and placed on the original lasts: “Our skilled factory staff rebuild the shoes using new long soles and heels, to the original factory specification. The uppers are refinished as best possible, and new laces are included.”
As chelsea boots run up your ankles they bend and stretch in a lot of places. For that reason you want a good quality leather that will break in nicely rather than producing unsightly creases in the wrong places. Suede chelsea boots avoid this problem through their softness and so don’t require the same caution.
Top pick: Loake Chelsea Boots
Loake are a leading UK brand with a global reputation. These boots represent some of the best craftsmanship and care you will find online.
Dr. Martens – Vegan 2976 Chelsea Boot
Dr Martens might not be your immediate thought when it comes to men’s dress boots but the classic brand does offer a line of Chelsea boots with its iconic durable sole.
Frye – Men’s Seth Chelsea Boot
Frye Chelsea boots offer great quality and classic style that won’t let you down.
Frye rose to prominence when it provided shoes and boots for American servicemen and women during the Second World War. This family firm has always been innovative in its use of shoe and boot-making technology, while keeping an eye on catwalk trends. The Frye label lets the colors of its high-quality, antiqued and burnished leathers speak for themselves, giving a muted and natural palette.
Budget pick: Gifennse
Paul Evans – Dean Italian Calfskin
Herring – Soho in Black Calf
Jeffery West – Scarface
Other Men’s Dress Boots
If you’re still unsure about Chelsea boots then why not see what other styles of men’s dress boots might be right for you.