How to wear Chelsea boots
Chelsea boots: The only boot you need
Words— Mylène Genty
How many types of boots can you name that are truly versatile and always proper? Doc Martens are too edgy, thigh-high boots have ambiguous connotations, Timberland boots can be too Yankees fan, snow boots have zero flair, cowboy boots can be too much of a statement...the only style that’s truly suitable for any occasion is the Chelsea boot.
An ankle high, close-fitting boot that emulates a cool classiness. Could that be another thing we stole from the boys? Not so much. Fashion historians have reported that at the time of its inception, this boot was worn by both men and women. The ingenuity of the elastic fastening made it quick to slip in and off the shoe, so it became perfect for physical activities and those who had the social status to practice said activities (horse riding, etc.). The invention of such a brilliant design is attributed to J. Sparkes-Hall, a British shoemaker, and came about in the Victorian era. In case your history lessons are failing you, this is the time when ostentatious fashion began shifting subtly towards practicality, to be in sync with the development of industrialization. This style became more widespread around 1851, after Queen Victoria herself claimed that she ‘’walks in them daily”. The Queen Victoria bump! Just like the Oxford, the Brogue, the trench coat, and the suit, you can think of the Chelsea as an English invention that automatically conjures refinement.
An early advertisement for J. Sparkes-Hall's innovative Chelsea boot.
There was practically never a time when Chelsea boots - or at least, ankle boots - weren’t in style. They have been through many mutations - whether they be in suede, snakeskin, shaped with a pointy or rounded toe, combined with a Doc Marten construction or with a chunky sole, they always found a way to adapt to shifting fashion paradigms.
In the 60s, the boot was adopted by a mildly popular British band - the Beatles. The shape was pointy and didn’t include the essential elastic sides, but the shape it was inspired from was undeniable. Other fashion savvy celebrities later embraced them with the likes of Alexa Chung and Harry Styles often sporting them off duty today. Thanks to that British flair, they have this inherent laidback appeal and their versatility makes them a perfect staple all year round. If you don’t have a pair now, what are you waiting for?
Here’s 3 way to wear the style with ease.
How to wear
I could just say: with anything, but that wouldn’t be very helpful. Instead, let’s look at the current trends to see how you can inject some of that old-school edge to your outfits.
With a good denim
It may seem too good to be true, but with the ankle-length preventing the calf from looking bulky, this boot is suitable for any type of pant. Thanks to its modest heel, a pair of Chelsea boot with skinny jeans will elongate the leg (especially if in black) and will spruce up a pair of mom jeans. As for the top, get yourself a chunky knitted sweater, the type you won’t even take out after a long day of work. Because of the polished aspect of the boot, you can have fun with layering a thin sweater on top of a long t-shirt and a jean jacket. No matter which direction you choose, you’ll probably end up well put together. So have fun!
With a knit dress
This is one of our favourite combinations, because of how little time it takes to prep. Is it the dress that does all the work, or the boot? We’re not quite sure. But in any case, a simple knit dress and a pair of boots - ideally in a different colour - is irrevocably chic. It’s as convenient for work as for a business meeting, an art gallery opening, a party, a baby shower, grocery shopping...the options are endless.
With a tight or flare skirt
If you’re courageous enough to wear a skirt past September in Canada, cheers to you! Anything is possible with a good pair of tights and a bottom in the right (warm) fabric. For a look that says ‘I just finished my sociology essay’ opt for a corduroy skirt with ankle boots. Much classier than sneakers, they will elevate your outfit with a serious yet stylish vibe. You can finish up the look with a turtleneck and round glasses and you’ll be the most stylish client at the café.
Whatever the direction or the style you choose, there’s a Chelsea boot to suit you. Make sure you care for them properly with a protective spray so that they pass the test of time.