You and I…
We need our oxfords, semi-brogues, penny loafers.
I'm sure you own one of those.
But now I'll ask:
Do you have a Chelsea or a chukka?
If you're wondering what kinds of shoes they are…
They're not – they're dress boots.
All men need at least one pair of dress boots on their shoe rack.
We can narrow it down to chukka and Chelsea boots (although both are great for different situations).
This article compares these two dress boot styles to help you make a decision.
Men's Dress Boots: Part 1 – The Chelsea Boot
Think about dress boots with no laces. Boots that can be slipped on and off…without tying or untying strings. And instead, there's a loop at the back which you can conveniently tug on to remove the boots each time.
Are boots like those actually stylish? Absolutely – cue in Chelsea boots.
Chelsea boots are unique. They were created without traditional boot laces and instead of becoming a fad…they would become timeless. So what is their appeal?
For starters, they have a lot of flexibility. The fact that they're laceless means you don't have to do anything to tighten the boots manually. Chelsea boots have elasticated side panels which adjust to your feet once you slide them inside. To help with the sliding, simply use the small loop at the back of each boot.
Another factor is their clean silhouette. Chelsea boots don't have the same “mess” as other boots tend to show when the laces are tied. So imagine walking from your home to the subway station, to board the train and then get off…before entering the building for your job interview. No need to look down – your boots are fine and don't require retying. One less issue to worry about. That's the beauty of the Chelsea.
Finally, these boots have been popular throughout history. They were worn by people in England during the 60s. Even royalties such as Queen Victoria enjoyed wearing them. The world got to see bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones perform in Chelsea boots all the time. These boots had the elegance to balance out their casual “rock star” wardrobe. And this helped prove how versatile Chelsea boots really are.
Men's Dress Boots: Part 2 – The Chukka Boot
Who would've thought that desert boots (which British soldiers had worn during World War II for practical reasons) would lead to the invention of one of today's most fashionable boots?
That's the origin of chukka boots. Here's what you should know about them.
Chukkas are low-ankled leather boots which only have a few pairs of eyelets. They tend to resemble dress shoes except for these details:
- Chukkas are open-laced rather than closed-laced – the quarters (back part of the upper) are thrown over the vamps instead of beneath them
- The flaps are a little more spread apart (due to the open lacing system) which makes the boots more casual than formal
- Common materials for the uppers are suede and soft calfskin, while the soles are commonly made of crepe rubber instead of leather
Even though they've got laces and they don't cover up the lower legs…chukkas are still a great way to change up your shoe style. They can still help you stand out in a room filled with other guys in oxfords or loafers. Why? Because of their bulky structure. They add more “weight” to your feet and lower body altogether. That makes you more attractive and masculine.
The open lacing system also gives your feet more breathing room (which is why chukkas feel quite comfortable). But since open-laced is more casual, try not to wear chukkas outside of social events and laid-back environments. These boots wouldn't work with a business suit – but are definitely compatible with a sports jacket plus jeans or odd trousers.
To level-up your chukkas, find a version with just 2 pairs of eyelets on each boot (4+ makes them casual). And check that they're made out of high-end leather that feels very smooth. That's how you'll look as classy as possible in chukkas.
If You Had To Choose…Which Dress Boots Should You Buy?
That's the big question.
Personally, I'd recommend buying both types of dress boots if one has the budget for it. But that's not the case for everybody. So I think you ought to go for Chelsea boots.
Both types offer enough protection. Both can enhance your casual outfits for weekends. But the Chelsea is sleeker and more versatile. It can be dressed up or dressed down. That makes it the better investment.
You can pair Chelsea boots with a business or casual suit, with dark slacks or dark denim jeans. You can wear them to meetings (especially black Chelsea boots), networking events, and job interviews – with the advantage of NOT having to fix any laces.
The winner may be Chelsea boots…but chukkas are still valuable in any man's wardrobe.
Tips On Buying Chelsea Or Chukka Boots
1. Avoid choosing black for chukkas. Chukkas are rather too casual for black whereas Chelsea boots can look formal and elegant in black.
2. Consider different options for the color: burgundy, oxblood, dark browns, light or dark gray suede, blue suede, etc. Think about possibly matching it with your top clothing like a suit or sports jacket.
3. Be selective with the leather used. The leather should be easy to clean/shine and should age well.
4. The best-quality boots (either type) are Goodyear-welted and Blake-stitched. They can also be re-soled so always check for those things.
5. Leather soles look better on boots, while rubber soles provide more traction but tend to be clunky/heavy. Understand the pros and cons of each sole type.
6. The higher the heel (such as Chelsea boots with Cuban heels) the more casual the boot becomes.