What’s that laceless boot the Beatles were so famous for wearing? And, how can you pull it off too?
A Chelsea boot is a streamlined, laceless boot that hugs the foot with an attractive, sloping upper.
This upper is usually six inches or so in height. While it can, theoretically, be made from about any material, smooth leather, pebbled leather, and suede are most common. Rubber is an option, but that tends to move more into galoshes territory.
Perhaps the signature characteristic of the upper is the U-shaped cutout with elastic in the center. This helps the boot to slip on and off over the foot, and keeps it on when walking around. While this elastic can be rather loud (some Chelsea models have red or blue elastic inserts), it’s most common to have a matching insert to the rest of the boot.
These boots have had quite the history. Developed by the Royal bootmaker, J. Sparkes Hall, himself, for walking and riding, they became quite popular during the Victorian Era. Fast-forward 80 or so years, and the Beatles popularized the look in the 1960s mod scene by adding a stacked Cuban heel.
…So, how do you wear these things today?
If, like me, you’ve got a long, narrow foot with fairly low volume, a boot sock is ideal for a Chelsea boot. The lack of laces, as covered just above, leaves little margin for error when it comes to fit. But, even if a Chelsea boot has a streamlined upper, those with narrow feet, heels or low arches may need some extra padding to fill it out. This prevents rubbing on the tops of the toes and the dreaded heel slip-particularly if your boots don’t have a suede patch for traction.
The best socks for dress boots do exactly that.
Chelseas tend to have lower shafts than some other kinds of boots. This makes for an excellent way to show off unique boot socks for fall and winter weather. Our men's Fair Isle socks make for an eye-catching and supremely comfortable ride. Try Navy with your raw denim and flannel (a quintessential autumnal weekend getup for many of us), Olive with heavyweight chinos or lighter-wash, faded jeans, and gray or black with some classic flannels or corduroy trousers, oxford cloth button down, and a soft-shoulder sportcoat.
This is, admittedly, tougher than it looks at first. It’s certainly not for lack of style- Chelseas are modern, sophisticated, and unabashedly hip. “Dress” socks should be a natural companion, right? The crux of the issue lies with fit. Many Chelsea boot shafts and ankles are designed to be worn with, well, boot socks. A thinner dress-style sock, while breathable and comfortable, usually doesn’t offer enough volume. Your feet slop uncomfortably around in the boots, and can’t get good traction through your heels. It’s beyond annoying-especially if you’ve got narrow feet.
However, if you’ve got wider feet, this might be a blessing for you. Perhaps streamlined boots were once out of reach for you, especially as many brands only make models in standard “D” widths. A traditional boot sock and Chelsea pinches the tops of the feet, resulting in uncomfortable hot spots.
But, if you can find a good fit with a thinner sock (Boardroom’s dress socks are a great in-between!), there are styling options aplenty. Of course, brown, grey, and navy are versatile, But, you can lean into fresh, mod takes with red, yellow, and even purple dress socks as shown above.
In short-absolutely. Most any color of suit will work, from traditional business outfits to bold windowpane, pinstriped, or Prince of Wales styles. A couple suggestions, though. First, closer-fitting (but definitely not tight!) garments tend to look best, given the lines on these shoes. Try a more tapered leg. Second, experiment with little-to-no break on your trouser hem-and pass on the cuffs. That, again, leans into the elegant lines.
A Chelsea is easy to style in business casual and informal settings, but works particularly well in fall/winter. Try a gingham shirt, medium wash jeans, and a quilted vest-and, of course, our Fair Isle socks- for a quintessential fall getup. Or, throw on a suede bomber or flight-style jacket for an even more elevated casual look.
The traditional ‘menswear uniform’ of a navy blazer and grey flannel pants gets a refreshing twist with some sleek Chelsea boots.
What do you think? Would you add a pair into your wardrobe?
Yours in Style,
Our editorial staff is comprised of menswear experts dedicated to providing you with helpful information. Sharing everything from style tips to sock care instructions, these gentlemen are a wealth of knowledge for both our customers and the Boardroom Socks team.
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