An enduring style classic for more than half a century, there’s surely no more versatile footwear than a pair of desert boots. Here’s how to style them out with a little help from some denim.
The desert boot, also known as the Chukka boot, is a utility player in a man’s wardrobe – it can be used to take the formal edge off a suit and it makes a great alternative to trainers if you’re looking to smarten up a casual outfit.
While for so many years it was conventionally paired with the likes of chinos and even baggy cargo shorts, today they’ve surely found their true partner – jeans. From the office to a night on the tiles, here are a few ways to rock the desert boot with denim.
- 1 Desert Boots Men
- 2 Clarks Desert Boots
- 3 Desert Boots Colours
- 4 Chukka Boots
- 5 Desert Boots With Skinny Jeans
- 6 Desert Boots with Straight Leg Jeans
- 7 Desert Boots with Distressed Jeans
- 8 Further Reading: History
- 9 How to Wear Desert Boots with Jeans
- 10 On That Note
Desert Boots Men
There are several types of desert boots out there, so you can undoubtedly find a pair perfect for you. From styles to colours, the desert boot is suited to everyone’s tastes. Here are the top picks to choose from.
Suede Desert Boots
These are the most common desert boot style and are available in a variety of shades and styles, such as sand, black and brown. These neutral shades make it easy to team with most outfits, and can even be worn as formal wear keeping your feet toasty in chillier weather.
The suede desert boot is a great addition to any man’s wardrobe. However, they are a bit more high maintenance than your leather pair, as you need to keep them clean and fresh. They scuff easily and show water stains, so you’re best to avoid the rain when wearing them. But there are a few ways to keep yours clean.
Leather Desert Boots
These are a great alternative to the common suede desert boots as they show less wear and tear. You can take them through the entire year, as they can be worn both formally and casually while taking you through all the season’s thanks to the leather’s versatility. Similar to suede boots, these are most commonly found in black and sand shades.
The great thing about leather desert boots is their ability to adapt to any situation. Paired with a suit they emulate formality, but can still be teamed with jeans for a casual day out. It’s best to stick with the neutral shades in order to make the most out of your leather desert boots.
Clarks Desert Boots
Clarks boots are the original men’s desert boots. Brought over in WWII by Nathan Clark from West Africa, these are available in a variety of styles, colours and fabrics, leaving you with endless possibilities. Their hard-wearing structure leaves you with a classic piece that’ll last months, possibly even years depending on how well you look after them.
The Clarks beeswax desert boot offers you a worn out look shoe but can be both dressed up and down. Its neutral shade enables you to team it with most outfits and colours. These are perfect teamed with straight indigo jeans and a plain tee for casual days out. The most well known Clarks desert boots are the classic suede, mainly in tan and sand. Their clean finish can leave you with a great shoe that can be incorporated into most of your outfits, but with extra added comfort.
Desert Boots Colours
Tan Desert Boots
Tan is a great colour option to go for as they can take you through a number of events, both formal and informal. They’re also easily teamed with most outfits due to their neutral versatile colour. However, they do show wear and tear more easily, but if you wipe away dirt as soon as you use them, they’ll stay fresh and last months. Most desert boot styles come in this shade, so if this is the shade you’re after, then you’ll have a pick of the different desert boot styles.
Black Desert Boots
Black is also another great colour to opt for when choosing desert boots. It doesn’t show dirt and other marks as much as lighter shades and is readily available in a number of textiles. Again, all of the styles come in this shade so you have options available to you.
All desert boots are Chukkas, but not all Chukkas are desert boots. Chukka boots originally got their name from polo, a chukka is a period. Chukkas include two or three eye-holes and are an ankle-high boot. It’s this structure that makes them a Chukka. Desert boots are a specific subset of Chukka boots. They always have crepe rubber soles.
Desert Boots With Skinny Jeans
Desert boots at the foot of a tapered silhouette is fast becoming a staple ensemble for any discerning chap – if you’re hitting the pub, the club or even heading to work, chances are you’ll spot someone in skinny jeans teamed with a pair of desert boots. And for good reason – it’s a solid ensemble that looks at home just about anywhere.
Now the best way to nail this look is to start with black jeans and pair them up with some classic black Chukka boots. The jeans create a clean-cut, streamlined silhouette, helping to accentuate the key details of the boots – crisp contrast lacing and a rugged heavy duty sole. Finish with a sharp denim jacket for a night out, or a lighter chunky knit jumper day-to-day when you’re feeling the chill.
Desert Boots with Straight Leg Jeans
Remember how the desert boot can take the edge off a slightly stuffy formal outfit? Well, the reverse is true, too. if you’re looking to sharpen up a casual outfit, just swap those sneakers for a classic pair of desert boots. Here you’ll want a to try a desert boot in leather for a more polished finish. Suede will last the distance, but it has an unfortunate tendency to fade and stain along the way.
So if you want that cleaner cut finish for the tricky smart-casual occasion, team your denim with classic Clarks. Sophisticated but relaxed, the look packs texture, great colours, and it’ll go with just about any shirt you throw on top of it.
Desert Boots with Distressed Jeans
Something it might be easy to forget about desert boots is just how rugged they are. Sure, they’re not ideal footwear for the wet and windy depths of winter, but they’re a hard-wearing must-have for spring into summer. They were invented by the military, after all. So if you want to emphasise those rough and ready utility undertones, why not pair with distressed denim for a timeless workwear look?
Get your Clarks in the original sandy suede, teaming with black jeans – the optimum amount of distressed and featuring a great relaxed fit. If your boots happen to show a few signs of wear and tear, this is the look where those perfect imperfections really come into their own – just make sure you roll the jeans up and show off a little bit of ankle. Complete the look with the iconic working man’s shirt of choice – the denim shirt.
Further Reading: History
The boots were originally designed by Nathan Clark (you know, the guy from Clarks), himself having taken inspiration from some homemade military footwear sported by Burmese soldiers.
While serving with the West African Brigade back during the Second World War, he spotted the lightweight, rough suede boots and decided to bring this practical design home with him. Fast forward 70 or so years, and Mr Clarks’ original design is such a lasting footwear staple that in France the desert boot is affectionately referred to as simply ‘Les Clarks’.
Desert Combat Boots & Military Desert Boots
Desert combat boots offer a similar style to the suede but have a thicker sole in order to make it more workable and hard enduring. There’s a variety of lengths. These rise above your ankle and can are tied all the way up, emulating the classic combat and military boot style. They’re also available in the ankle ‘walking’ shoe style to support you whilst you work.
These are better suited to extreme weather changes, so can take you through the whole year. However, they are harder to style and incorporate into your wardrobe due to their chunky shape and length, despite their neutral sand shade. The combat and military style desert boot is better suited to those looking for hard enduring work boots, or are into military style, as they look great with combat trousers. Even camouflage ones.
How to Wear Desert Boots with Jeans
- Desert boots come in a range of materials, from sleek suede to durable leather, so keep your overall style and environment in mind before you choose your shoes.
- Clarks desert boots are the classic choice and come in a range of colours and styles.
- These boots can work in both casual and formal looks, but lighter coloured ones give a more relaxed finish.
On That Note
Over the years, the desert boot has come in many forms. Suede, leather, tweed, tartan checks, even recycled shirt fabrics – and it’s all helped cement its reputation as the ultimate versatile wardrobe staple. It’s no wonder they team so naturally with a pair of jeans. From your comfy ripped jeans with your favourite suede boots stained just how you like them, to slick leather boots punctuating precision slim cut denim, it’s always a timeless winning combination. Work, rest or play, desert boots with jeans is a match you can always make your own.