Boot Guide, updated for Fall/Winter 2011. See previous boot guide, 2010.
Fundamental Boot Laws
- Yes to: leather upper, classic styling
- No to: square toe, pointy toe, fake distressing, metal bits
- Outdoor/all purpose: rubber/Vibram sole
- Indoor/dress: leather sole
- If your grandfather wouldn’t have worn them, neither should you
- Inexpensive, casual, 3-season boot: Clarks DB
- Inexpensive, do-almost-anything boot: Chippewa GQ
- Classy, winter-compatible work-style boot: Red Wing Beckman
- Classy, suit-compatible dress boot: Alden Indy
- Red Wing is a classic American workwear brand. They make well-made boots that will last a decade or more. Buy from the Heritage line, not the regular stuff. Favorites are the Beckmans (aka. the Gentleman Traveler) and the Iron Ranger.
- Wolverine makes the 1000 Mile boot, which is well constructed, made in America and looks pretty good. But it has a leather sole, which means it’s not useful in snow, ice, or rain. Avoid everything else from Wolverine — it’s all made in China and looks pretty bad.
- Chippewa makes the Apache 6″ lacer, aka the “GQ” boot, which is a great introductory boot at a great price. They make a steel-toe and lugged-sole version, too.
- Sorel and LL Bean make “Bean Boots”, designed to be worn in deep snow or hiking through forests in a blizzard or whatever. They’re really well made and will last a decade. But they’re charitably described as bad-looking. Some people are going apeshit over this aesthetic and that’s fine, but personally I think if you’re wearing them down 5th Avenue in a light drizzle, or (worse) in central Florida in October, you look like a fucking asshole. If you live in Maine, grab a pair. If your idea of a heavy winter is an inch of snow in your office’s parking lot, definitely don’t.
- (LL Bean Katahdin Iron Works seems to be discontinued. Sad. The Chippewa 6″ is a reasonable approximation. (edit: coming back later this year?)
- RM Williams and Blundstone are quality Aussie bootmakers that are known for their Chelsea-style boots. RM Williams trends toward dressy, and Blundstone toward work-ish boots. Blundstones make great winter beaters if you don’t mind looking a little boring.
- Timberland makes tough boots that are ugly as fuck. You shouldn’t buy them. They have an Earth Keeper line now, which are marginally better looking for two to three times what they should cost (i.e. still not worth it).
- Caterpillar are like Timberland, but crappier. Avoid.
- FEIT are an Australian brand that do limited runs of boots that look pretty good and seem to be reasonably priced. They’ve gotten a lot of press, but I haven’t heard of any real reviews.
- ALDO, Tsubo, Kenneth Cole, ECCO — all make Trash Fashion Boots. Thin leather, crappy construction, designed to be worn for one season and thrown away. They look bad, they age worse. Don’t buy them.
- Bed Stuy (upgrade! they seem to be making slightly better stuff nowadays), Ted Baker, Cole Haan, Steve Madden — all make boots that are slightly better than Trash Fashion Boots, but not by much. If you find a great deal on a pair, and they don’t violate the Fundamental Boot Laws, and you don’t plan on keeping them for long, you could consider them. Definitely not worth full retail.
- Anything branded Urban Outfitters is going to be knockoff trash that is miss-or-really-miss on quality, but probably not awful on style. Again, if you find a great deal, take a look, but don’t drop over $100 for anything from these guys.
- Merrel and Doc Martens are similar in that they make very eccentric boots that look awful on 95% of the people who wear them. Merrels just look plain awful and are questionably made; Doc Martens have a sordid history that you almost certainly don’t fit into, and look chunky and affected, and unless they’re made in England (which yours probably aren’t) they’re shittily manufactured. If you have to ask, don’t buy these. In fact, let’s just say don’t buy these.
- Tretorn make a bunch of things, but their rubber rain boots are a man’s answer to Wellies (aka. galoshes). Avoid the other boots they make; they’re generally pretty ugly.
- Uggs—you’re a man; the answer is no.
- Clarks and Frye are similar: good brands, that make good and comfortable boots. Unfortunately, about half of them are horrifically ugly. Tread carefully. Specifically, the Clarks Desert Boot (or any crepe-soled, suede or light leather upper, chukka-style boot) is a decent looking spring/summer boot that is totally inappropriate below 45°F or in any kind of precipitation. That’s it.
- Eastlandis an American manufacturer of mostly moc-toe style boots at a pretty low price. Leather and construction quality may not be top-notch.
- Quoddy and Yukuten make the more expensive (and Quoddy, the original) version of those moccasin-style boots. They’re (I believe) hand-made of great quality leather. If you’re into the style, these are the names you should be looking at.
- Roy Boots is an artisanal American bootmaker, typically work or semi-dress styles. Good stuff, high price.
- Alden, Whites, and (arguably) Florsheim are American brands that make great dress (generally leather-soled) boots that look great with anything from jeans to a three-piece suit and, if properly cared for, will last a lifetime. They can be tricky to care for, and are quite expensive. The Alden Indy boot is an icon. The Whites Semi-Dress boots are hard to find, but excellent.
- Trickers, Church’s, Loake, and Crockett & Jones are English brands that also make very high quality dress boots. IMO Trickers are the best retail boots that money can buy. Same caveats apply as eg. Alden.
- Grenson is another English brand that’s got a great history, but is trending a bit more youthful in their product line. Another great option.
- Palladium make some weird canvas/rubber boots that can look OK in certain situations. They’re like a beefier Chuck Taylor. Kind-of not-really boots.
- Viberg, Danner and Fracap make decent quality work/hiking boots, but only a few of them are worth looking at — many are quite ugly. The Danner Mountain Light and Fracap Scarponi in particular are excellent retro-styled hikers.
- MOMA and Zeha Berlin are overpriced European shoe/boot makers that nevertheless put out a good product. Trending dressy, and near Red Wing quality. If you find a good deal, worth a look.
- Land’s End Canvas 8-eye boot is a value dress boot alternative. Should be decently made and is reportedly comfortable after breaking in, but the leather isn’t great.
source : http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/comments/kc9f2/mfa_boot_guide_2011/
My friend you are a funny man. LOVEd you comments on Sorel boots. And thanks for the heads up too!