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 ‘Ryder’ boots are durably soled and effortlessly cool.
Crockett & Jones Chiltern Snuff Suede
Edward Green Banbury Boots
Church’s Ryder Desert Boots
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 has crafted its famed Waddell Stone boots in a seasonal stone suede, featuring tonal stitching and details on the quarter. Mr P. has countered with its Lucien Suede boots, set on black rubber-crepe 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 Waddell Stone Boots
Mr P. Lucien Suede Desert Boots
Barbour Redhead Lightweight Chukka Boots
Upgrade your formal wardrobe with black suede boots
There’s something about wearing suede in autumn 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 to Officine Creative, whose suede desert boots are finished with the brand’s signature lived-in look. 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.
Officine Creative Suede Desert Boots
Tod’s Suede Chukka Boot
Clark’s Desert Boots in Black Suede
Looking for something a little more casual? Lace up our favourite white trainers…