A Polished Pair of Dress Boots

Something that can handle a day in the woods is all well and good, but a pair that can stand up to your next big meeting—or night out—is just as crucial.

Photo: Terence Spencer

While the work boot is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the menswear world (and a genuine essential in our book), there’s a whole other breed out there that deserves a place on your shoe rack. One that you can, and should, wear with a suit (just mind the caveats).

Dress boots are sleeker, lighter and crafted from finer leather than their blue-collar cousins. These slimmed down takes on the style are better suited to the boardroom than the back woods, and they’re a vital part of any well-appointed wardrobe. They play the same role as a pair of dress shoes at the office or an event, but with the added bonus of elevating you above the staid, black-oxford-wearing pack. They’re also far more useful for your off-the-clock adventures, pairing as well with jeans or cords as they do with dressier attire. Like we said, though, there are guidelines to consider. Chelsea boots, because of their exposed elastic goring, work great for trousers and jeans, but tend to be too informal for a proper business suit. If you’re dressing to the nines, lace it up.

Which brings us to the boots themselves. When you’re picking out a pair, avoid unnecessary heft. The sole should be thin, with clean lines (no lug or commando versions). Likewise, the silhouette should be streamlined, and topped off with a smaller toe box. Style is a matter of preference, but options abound. Whether it’s the aforementioned Chelsea boots or lace-ups, intricately brogued or unadorned—it’s up to you. For your first pair, dark brown leather is the way to go. After that, feel free to explore (keeping in mind that bold colors and rough textures like suede should be approached with caution).

If you treat them right—think shoe trees and regular shines—a good pair will keeping you looking devilishly sharp for years. Just don’t go chopping wood in them.

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