Spring may be on its welcome way, but we’re not out of the wintry woods just yet. Reliable footwear remains as important as ever — especially with changeable spring spells on the horizon. But never fear: we’re prepared with a selection of desert (or chukka) boots to see you through. These crepe-soled, suede-uppered stalwarts of your shoe collection are one of the simplest, most reliable and effective examples of footwear ever designed.
Popularised in the early 1950s, they became a staple of every gentleman’s wardrobe after Nathan Clark (grandson of James Clark; founder of footwear giant Clark’s) poached the idea from the British army. During the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, Clark — then an infantryman — was struck by the versatility and practicality of these rough suede boots that were being commissioned for Army officers in Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar.
Lightweight, grippy and with indubitable military-grade style credentials, desert boots have been year-round favourites ever since. 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 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 ‘Ryder’ boots are both durably soled and effortlessly cool.
Crockett & Jones Chiltern Snuff Suede
Edward Green Banbury Boots
Church’s Ryder Desert Boots
Embrace the versatility of these classic boots by experimenting with the tone
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? They work in navy, in grey — even with a cotton canvas heel. Essentially, there’s nothing they can’t do.
Oliver Sweeney got the memo, and has crafted its Farleton Navy boots in a gloriously versatile shade, featuring a calf leather lining and a durable sole with a rubber grip forepart. Mr P. has countered with its Canali suede boots, crafted from anthracite suede and equipped with welted rubber soles. And Barbour, king of British outerwear, has hardened up its chukka boots with a cotton canvas heel counter and moulded Barbour footbed.
Oliver Sweeney Farleton Navy Suede Chukka Boot
Mr P. Canali Suede Desert Boots
Barbour Redhead Lightweight Chukka Boots
Upgrade your formal wardrobe with black suede boots
We’re all hoping (and praying) that formal events might start up again later this year. So why not err on the optimistic side and start prepping your wardrobe in advance? There’s no more classic or formal a shoe colour than timeless black — so now’s your chance to add a pair of sleek, slick black desert boots to your (hopefully much-used) formal wardrobe this year.
Look to the ever-reliable Jones, ready for anything with its classically styled pair of Deacon suede chukka boots. Alternatively, Tod’s has created the perfect pair for dapper daytime looks and sleek evening ensembles alike. Or, for the classic, Clark’s is always on hand — or should that be foot? — to offer you its original take on the timeless desert boot.
Jones Bootmaker Deacon Suede Chukka Boots
Tod’s Desert Boots In Black Suede
Clark’s Desert Boots in Black Suede
Looking for something more adventurous? Peruse the most stylish reflective gear for an outdoor workout…
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