An Ode to Chelsea Boots (and Why Everyone Should Have a Pair)

That is, if you don't already have a pair. You do, don't you?!
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Publish date:
January 7, 2016
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clothes, shoppables, chelsea boots

Ah, the Chelsea boot. Was there ever a more perfect style of footwear? Dating back as far as 1851, the boot — known for its ankle height, slight heel, elastic panels on the sides and tabs at the heel for easy-on, easy-off wear — is, in my opinion, the most versatile shoe around.

Finding The Right Pair

I've had a few pairs over the years, and I've worn 'em with everything from mini dresses with tights (that little heel always makes my legs look the best) to jeans and thick wool socks for colder days. Yes, Chelsea boots can and should be worn in the winter. While I wouldn't recommend them for those whiteout storm aftermath days where the snow is piled up to your knees, if properly treated they can survive most of what Old Man Winter has to throw at us.

My favorite and most-worn pair, is Franco Sarto's Embry boot (pictured above, when my roommate and I both realized we had the same pair) While my specific pair is no longer available (I'm sorry!) there's no need to worry, because there are so many similar boots on the market that you can have your very own pair of Chelsea boots in no time. That is, if you don't already have a pair. You do, don't you?!

If you're looking for a classic, heavy-duty pair for everything the elements can throw at you, I would absolutely suggest going for a pair of Blundstones. You can hike in them, or you can wear them to the office. These shoes are built-to-last, and in my opinion, the more wear they get, the better they look. The Dress series ($170) is my favorite, as it has the sleekest, closest-fitting style.

There is, of course, everyone's beloved Dr. Martens. Their main Chelsea style, the Flora ($140) is beautiful - and I have fallen madly in love with this pair with a slight green tint to it.

If you're really in the market for a splurge, there's Frye Danielle Short boot. Instead of the elastic gusset, it has a zipper for a more modern look and comes in a few different colours. These boots are gorgeous, but they cost a pretty penny (almost $350, phew.)

On the more affordable scale of things, there are these patent-leather-looking jelly boots from ASOS for just $36, or this classic leather pair from Zara for $99.

If leather's not your thing, there are plenty of beautiful faux-leather options. This pair from Rocket Dog ($70) could easily be mistaken for a pair of Fryes. These H&M beauties get the sleek '60s style down pat at $50, and this cute pair from Forever 21 is a steal on sale at $23.99!

Say you want something a little more fun? How about these electric blue suede lovelies from Windsor Smith? They also come in zebra-print and gold! (Insert the heart eyes emoji here.)

All these shoes prove there's really something for everyone, on every end of the personal style and budget spectrum.

Now Take Care Of Those Shoes

But what about protecting and beautifying your shoes, you might ask? Well, you're going to want to start with some dubbin. Dubbin is a wax-based waterproofing compound intended to protect and nourish leather, ensuring it stays sturdy in the elements. Leather is, after all, skin.

Applying dubbin to new boots and every few months will keep them looking brand new and the leather feeling soft. It's also cool to see water droplets just roll off the leather once they've been treated. Or maybe I'm the only person who finds that neat. Oh well.

In addition to dubbin, you want to keep your boots polished. While dubbin is there to keep everything happy and protected, polish is essentially makeup for your boots. It makes them straight up PRETTY.

Start by wrapping a soft shoeshine cloth around your fingertip and dipping it into the jar of polish, then massage it into the boots in strong, circular motions. Dip the cloth in water and repeat the motion into the polish (the water helps it adhere better). Keep repeating this process until all the surface area has been covered in polish and then allow the shoes to dry for around 20-30 minutes. When that's done, give them a good buff with a shoeshine brush and they'll be looking gorgeous.

I try to do this as often as possible. If you're really fastidious, like my dad, you'll polish your shoes many times throughout the week. It's up to you how shiny and lovely you'd like your boots to be. To get you started, I think this kit from Dr. Martens is an awesome buy at $20, full of polish, dubbin, a brush and more, all in a nice little tin.

Another big issue with any and all shoes in the winter is salt stains, and the best way to get rid of those is to wipe your shoes down with a solution of water-diluted vinegar as soon as you get home. This will gently and effectively dissolve the salt away, ensuring it doesn't dry out your leather.

Boot Rescue wipes are another great option.

You can keep them your bag for touching up any salt stains on the go.

With all these tips in mind, you're ready to get yourself a fab pair of Chelsea boots that will most likely last you many years to come.

  • Do you already have a pair of beloved Chelsea boots? Show me!
  • Which shoes are your #1 when it comes to braving crappy weather?