Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

With armed forces origins and military-grade style credentials, these crepe-soled, suede-uppered shoes are icons of footwear design

Chukka boots, desert boots; call them what you like — but these crepe-soled, suede-uppered stalwarts of your shoe collection are one of the simplest, most reliable and effective examples of footwear ever designed.

They were first popularised in the early 1950s by footwear giants Clark’s — after the grandson of the British brand’s founder poached the idea from the British army.

During the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, infantryman Nathan Clark had noted the versatility and practicality of the rough suede boots being commissioned for Army officers in Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

Lightweight, grippy and with military-grade style credentials, desert boots have been year-round favourites ever since — and these are the best pairs to buy.

For the classic look, opt for brown or tan desert boots

Like the boots originally crafted by Cairo cobblers for the British officers — lace-ups that quickly trod their way around the world during the war — you can’t go far wrong with a classic brown rough suede design.

From Crockett & Jones, these Chiltern boots are a classic Chukka built upon Dainite rubber soles. Edward Green’s desert boots are understated, practical and perfect for those with slightly wider feet. And, from Church’s, these ‘Sahara’ boots are aptly named, durably soled and effortlessly cool.

Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Crockett & Jones Chiltern Snuff Suede

£370

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Edward Green Banbury Boots

£1150

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Church’s Sahara Suede Desert Boots

£350

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Put an understated spin on the iconic boots with a subtle grey

Desert boots are famously versatile. In fact, that’s half their appeal. So why not go for broke and make these semi-casual, all-terrain shoes the most adaptable garments in your entire wardrobe? In grey, they’ll pair as well with your navy suit as they will your black jeans — and look good every step of the way.

Oliver Sweeney got the memo, and have crafted their famed Waddell Stone boots in a seasonal stone suede, featuring tonal stitching and details on the quarter. Mr P. have countered with their Lucien Suede boots, set on black rubber-crepe soles. And Officine Creative strike the happy medium between smart and casual with their Cornell suede boots, graced with the brand’s signature pre-worn appearance.

Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Oliver Sweeney Waddell Stone Boots

£169

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Mr P. Lucien Suede Desert Boots

£395

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Officine Creative Cornell Chukka Boots

£400

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Upgrade your formal wardrobe with black suede boots

There’s something about wearing suede in summer that just feels right. So why not bring this classically casual style to your formalwear this year by investing in a pair of sleek, slick black desert boots?

Look once again to Crockett & Jones, whose Tetbury boots are made from the finest antique nubuck for a refined take on the rugged boot. Alternatively, Tod’s have created the perfect pair for dapper daytime looks and sleek evening ensembles alike. Or, for the classic, Clark’s are always on hand — or should that be foot? — to offer you their original take on the timeless desert boot.

Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Crockett & Jones Tetbury Black Suede

£370

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Tod’s Suede Chukka Boot

£340

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Lace up a pair of desert boots, the most reliable shoes ever made

Clark’s Desert Boots in Black Suede

£100

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Looking for something a little more casual? Lace up our favourite white trainers for SS19…

Further Reading