No piece of footwear gives off an air of nonchalant cool quite like a pair of desert boots. Their simplistic, daresay minimalist style has been a perennial favourite since their inception in 1949, their distinctive crepe sole setting them apart from both casual and formal styles of the time. Easy to wear, comfortable and effortlessly stylish, they’re the perfect go-to shoe for any occasion, and are always a wise investment. But, as with any classic style, it can sometimes be a struggle to figure out how to work them into your wardrobe. Not to worry! Aphrodite are here with some style tips for a little inspiration.
A Little History
The desert boot is such a ubiquitous and timeless style today that it’s hard to imagine that it was considered a radical design when it was introduced by British shoe maker Clark’s in 1949. The famous origin story of the desert boot goes like this: Nathan Clark, great-grandson of one of the brand’s founders, was stationed in Burma with the British Army, where he was taken by the casual suede boots worn by some of the off-duty officers. After finding out they were purchased from a street market in Cairo, he sent some diagrams and hastily-constructed models back home to England. Clark’s then debuted their desert boots at the Chicago Shoe Fair in 1949, where they were told “It will never sell!” Suffice it to say, that wasn’t the case: 68 years and over ten million pairs later, the Clark’s desert boot is one of the most popular shoes of all time.
How to Wear Desert Boots
So you have your brand-spanking new pair of desert boots, now you need inspiration on how to wear them. To kick off our style guide we’ll take a look at the classic way to wear such an iconic style: as a happy medium between a smart shoe or brogue, and a casual trainer. Their slender profile and mid-height ankle lend themselves perfectly to being worn with a pair of slim jeans or chinos teamed with a slim white tee, polo or a casual shirt. Whether for a night out with mates, a first date or just weekend lazing, a desert boot in suede or beeswax leather is a quick fix to sharpen up your casual look.
While the desert boot has long been a staple in the smart-casual menswear uniform, there are plenty of alternative ways to wear it within different silhouettes or styles. On the more casual, street-ready end of the spectrum, the desert boot works as a great alternative to sneakers with a more relaxed pair of jeans or work-style trousers in earthy shades like olive. Roll your hems up a little to keep things crisp or just leave them as-is; the timeless shape stays stylish either way, so the choice is yours. If you ever feel like you’re growing out of wearing trainers all the time, or just want to sharpen up your street look without the bulk of a work or hiking style boot, then give the desert boot a try; they retain the comfort and hard-wearing nature of your favourite trainers while adding an extra twist of low-key sophistication.
A Formal Twist
At the opposite extreme, the Clarks Originals Desert Boot is also a great way to add your own touch of laid-back personality to your business or evening wear. The classic beeswax leather or cola suede finishes make the perfect match for a less-formal navy or charcoal suit with a crisp white shirt as a base, with or without a tie (occasion permitting!)
Wearing boots with shorts might sound like an eccentric choice, but that’s actually how they were first worn — as part of the British Army uniform in the warm, humid climate of Burma. The look still works perfectly well today as part of a casual look for the warmer weather. The lighter suede styles are ideal to wear with shorts and no (or no-show) socks, teamed with a simple plain or striped tee or button-down shirt.
Part of the desert boot’s appeal is in its soft suede construction, keeping it a lighthearted alternative to more formal boot styles. But as any footwear aficionado knows, keeping suede looking clean day to day can be a nightmare. Personally, we think the desert boot looks just as good with a bit of wear and tear, but if you prefer the box-fresh look, spray before first use with a suede protector such as Crep Protect. This not only protects from every day dirt and grime, but has the added benefit of preventing the dreaded ‘denim bleed’ – the blue stains left behind on suede through prolonged contact with the indigo dyes in raw denim. Otherwise, just wear them and enjoy them! Read more about how to use Crep Protect on our blog including a useful video tutorial.