Dr. Marten footwear is a British brand that has made waves across the world. But for a first-time buyer, their footwear can be confusing.
What design should you choose? Is it better to buy a shoe or boot? What exactly is a 1460 and why is it so popular?
In today's article, I'll guide you through the process of choosing the perfect pair of men's Dr. Marten boots for your style needs.
#1 The History Of Dr. Marten Shoes
Dr. Martens is an iconic brand of shoes for men, but few people know the interesting history behind the Griggs family and their Dr. Marten shoes.
Starting in 1901, the Griggs family was known for making boots in the small town of Wollaston, Northamptonshire in the English Midlands. A small-town footwear company saw some local success, but it wasn't until 1945 that things started to get interesting for the brand.
Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25-year-old soldier was recovering from a foot injury when he constructed a unique air-cushioned sole to help speed up recovery and provide comfort for his damaged limb. Prior to this, men's boots featured a hard leather sole that didn't provide much in the way of comfort for those with saw feet.
Using a salvaged cobbler’s last and a needle, Maertens put together a prototype shoe and showed it to his university pal Dr. Herbert Funk. Impressed with the design, the two went into partnership by using old military clothing to begin producing their new design of shoes.
In 1959, they decided it was a good idea to advertise their revolutionary style of footwear overseas. During the 1960s, their boots were branded as ‘Airwair’ with the iconic yellow stitching we all know and love.
Thus, Men's Dr. Marten boots were born.
#2 What Are The Different Styles Of Dr. Martens?
Men's Dr. Marten boots have been a fashion staple for over 60 years.
While the brand has expanded its repertoire to include a wide range of styles, there are certain classic designs that continue to be popular with both men and women.
To give you a better idea of what you're looking at when you see ‘1460' or ‘1061' on the Dr Martens website, I've gone ahead and broken out each icon style for you below.
The Classic 1460 Boot
Like many men's Dr.Marten boots, the 1460 is easily recognizable by its distinct features, which include a chunky sole, a round toe, and laces that go up the front of the shoe.
However, the 1460 Dr. Marten boot is the original design (first introduced in 1960) and quickly became popular among both men and women. In fact, during social movements such as the punk rock era of the 1970s, the 1460 was a symbol of counterculture.
The 1460 is also available in a wide range of materials, including leather, suede, and even vegan-friendly options. If you're looking for a classic Dr. Marten boot with a bit of edge, the 1460 is the perfect option for you.
The 1461 Shoe
The 1461 is very similar to the boot version (1460), but it does not come up as high on your ankle. Because of this, the shoe is often seen as more versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
Like the 1460, it features a chunky sole, round toe, and laces that go up the front. The main difference is in the height and silhouette of the shoe.
Many guys prefer the 1461 shoe as it can be worn in a wider variety of ways. It's a great work shoe but can also be worn casually, so it's a great option if you're looking for something that can do double duty.
The 2976 Chelsea Boot
If you're not a fan of the chunky look of the 1460, then you might want to consider another style of men's Dr. Marten boots – the 2976 Chelsea boot.
The Chelsea was first introduced in 1971 and features a slimmer silhouette that some men may find more aesthetically pleasing. As with many Chelsea boots, the 2976 design features an elasticated side panel and a pull-up tab on the back of the boot.
The 2976 is available in both leather and suede and makes for a great casual boot that can be worn with jeans or chinos.
The 101 Boot
Dr. Marten introduced the 101 design in the '70s. Unlike the 1460 boot, the 101 features a 6-eye design instead of an 8-eye design. The shorter profile of this boot means that men can get away with wearing it even if they have larger calves.
Like the 2976 Chelsea boot, the 101 is also available in a wide range of materials, including leather and suede. With regards to the formality of this boot, it's certainly less formal than the Chelsea boot because of the shorter profile.
However, it can still be worn with a suit if you're looking to add a bit of edge to your look.
The 3989 Brogue Derby
This brogue-design Derby shoe isn't as popular as other Dr. Marten designs. However, that isn't to say that it's not a great option for guys who want to wear a pair of formal Dr. Martens to the office.
Unlike the 1461 shoe, the 3989 Brogue Derby features a wingtip design and perforated detailing. It also has a slightly higher price tag than other Dr. Marten shoes, which is reflective of the slightly more premium materials used in its construction.
If you're looking for a classic Derby shoe with a twist, the 3989 Brogue could be the shoe for you. It's far more likely to blend in at the office. Frankly, it's probably the most regular-looking Dr Marten shoe available, as it looks very similar to other Derby shoes on the market.
The Adrien Loafer
Dr. Marten found inspiration in 1970s subcultures when they designed the Adrian Loafer. These subcultures include 80s skinheads, punks, and suedeheads.
The Adrian Loafer is a slip-on shoe that features tassels on the vamp. It also has a leather or suede upper and a crepe sole. In short, it looks very similar to other tassel loafers on the market, it's just a bit bulkier in design. Come on, what did you expect? It's still a Dr. Marten shoe, after all!
Formality-wise, the Adrien loafer combines the smartness of mod-style footwear with the durability that is associated with Docs. At a push, a man could wear this design with a suit, although it's more likely to be seen as a stylish casual shoe.
#3 How Are Dr. Marten Made?
Men's Dr. Marten boots are made from the finest quality raw materials.
The process of constructing a Dr. Marten boot from raw materials to the finished product is as follows:
- Dr. Marten boots are made with a PVC sole. This type of sole is chosen because it is resistant to oil and acid, and it softens over time.
- The upper of the boot is cut out of leather in the Clicking room. The shapes are cut out using a hydraulic press machine, and the size is noted with a metal relief and foils.
- The boot then makes its way to the Closing Room. This is where all the separate boot pieces are sewn together.
- Before the Dr. Martens boots leave the Closing Room, eyelets are stamped into them and their noses are strengthened with a toe protector.
- The Lasting Track Room is where they make the leather upper fit to the shape of a person's foot.
- They put a mold in the leather and then adjust it to fit the shape of a person's foot. After that, they add the yellow thread that Dr. Martens is known for.
- The yellow thread attaches a rim of PVC to the leather upper.
- Finally, the shoes are checked over and prepped for shipping.
All of this results in a boot that is not only stylish but also built to last. So when you're looking for a shoe that will stand up to whatever you throw at it, look no further than Dr. Marten.
#4 How To Style Dr. Marten Shoes and Boots
Dr. Marten boots and shoes are really versatile. With the hundreds of different color, fabric and design combinations available, creating a complete look book for this style of footwear would be impossible.
As such, I thought it would be useful to give you guys a general idea of how you could wear each classic style of shoe so you can make a more informed decision on which shoe is right for you.
How To Style The 1460 Boots
You can style the classic 1460s in thousands of different ways. However, there are a few staple outfits you should try when wearing this style of Dr Marten boot.
For a smart-casual look, try wearing the 1460 boot with a pair of dark-wash jeans, a white button-down shirt, and a black blazer.
If you're going for a more rugged look, try pairing your 1460 boots with a pair of raw denim jeans, a flannel shirt, and a leather jacket.
And for a more formal look, try wearing the 1460s with a pair of trousers, a dress shirt, and a structured blazer.
How To Style The 1461 Shoes
The 1461 shoe is iconic, but there are some dos and don'ts when it comes to pairing this style of Dr. Marten with your different styles of clothing.
For a smart-casual look, pair your 1461 shoes with a pair of dark chinos, a white button-down shirt, and a navy blazer. Roll up your pants a notch or two so that you can show off a bit of the shoe's signature yellow stitching.
If you're going for a more rugged look, try pairing your 1461 shoes with a pair of raw denim jeans, a chambray shirt, and a brown leather jacket. Again, roll up those jeans a few notches!
And for a more formal look, try wearing your 1461 shoes with a pair of black trousers, a white dress shirt, and a black blazer. Keep the pants hemmed so that they just cover the shoe's yellow stitching.
For all of these looks, make sure you pay attention to your socks! Unlike the 1460 boots, the 1461s will show off a bit of sock, so ensure that your socks complement the rest of your outfit.
The 2976 Chelsea Boot
Everyone loves a pair of Chelsea boots – and as far as Dr. Marten boots go, these are probably the easiest to style across most formalities.
For a cool smart casual look, wear a pair of slim-fit slacks and a colored shirt under a navy blazer. Let the slacks should sit just on top of the boot so that a bit of the Chelsea's elastic is showing. As far as color is concerned, opt for a blue, beige, or black pair depending on the other colors in your outfit.
To get a more casual use out of your 2976 Chelseas, wear some dark blue jeans with a white t-shirt. Make sure you tuck your t-shirt into the jeans and wear a nice leather belt. For an outer layer, you could go for a denim jacket or a bomber.
If you want to dress the 2976s up, go for a suit. These shoes would make great summer wedding wear, so wearing them with a pastel-colored suit would really show off your sense of style. To make this look a little more unique, try pairing your suit with a patterned shirt and no tie.
How To Style The 101 Boots
The 101 boots are a bit more difficult to style than the other men's Dr. Marten boots on this list. Why? It's simple, their chunky silhouette and slightly shorter design can make your legs look shorter if not worn correctly.
With that being said, there are still a few ways you can style these boots successfully.
When dressing for a smart-casual event, try pairing your 101 boots with a pair of dark-wash chinos, a short-sleeve button-down, and a black suede bomber jacket.
If you're for a casual look, go for a pair of raw denim jeans, a white tee-shirt, and a black leather bomber jacket. Upgrade your outfit with a black leather bracelet and sunglasses (that suit your face shape!)
And lastly, for more formal occasions, try wearing the 101 boots with black trousers, a white dress shirt, and a grey wool blazer. A full suit isn't going to work with these boots, they're just a bit too chunky and don't suit the tailored silhouette of fine tailoring.
The 3989 Brogue Derby
These shoes fall on the more formal side of the style spectrum. The 3989 Brogues can be easily dressed up or down, making them a versatile option for any man's shoe rotation.
For a smart-casual look, try wearing the Brogue Derby shoes with a pair of dark-wash jeans, a white button-down shirt, and a gray cardigan.
To dress them down, try pairing the shoes with a pair of black raw denim jeans, a white tee-shirt, and a denim jacket. Keep it simple with this look and let the shoes take center stage.
And for a more formal look, try wearing the Brogue Derby shoes with a pair of black trousers, a white Oxford button-down, and a black blazer. Add a pop of color with a pocket square or tie. At a push, you could wear these shoes with a full suit. Would I advise wearing them to a really formal event? No, but for the office, you could definitely pull them off.
The Adrien Loafer
The Adrien loafer is probably the most controversial shoe style on this list. They're not really casual, but not really formal – so styling them can be tricky.
Avoid wearing these shoes in formal environments – they won't work with a full suit but also won't suit jeans.
So, for that smart casual aesthetic, pair these bad boys with a pair of chinos, a button-up shirt, and a tailored blazer. You could also wear them with dress trousers, but I think the chinos would look better because they're a bit more relaxed.
Now that you're a pro at styling men's Dr. Marten boots, check out my guide to the best boots every guy should have in his closet.