They’re a stalwart of any commendable shoe collection – a corner stone of a classic, easy to wear wardrobe and a no brainer for anyone looking at giving their style a boost – a good pair of men’s chukka boots really are a go to for a year round style ally that will never let you down.
But what exactly are chukkas? How do you wear them? And what sets them apart from all the other boots out there? Check out our handy quick fire guide on what makes these boots a real must have.
Although their actual origin isn’t clear, it’s generally believed that chukka boots were named after a “chukka”, a period of play in the sport of polo – they’ve even had stints serving in the British Army, where an iteration picked up the nickname “Desert boots”.
Popularised in the 40’s and then into the 60’s, the variations on chukka boots are pretty expansive. As time’s gone on, they’ve been built using everything from leather to suede and set on crepe and leather soles, in structured and unstructured forms.
One thing that links all chukka boots together however, is their height – cut just below the ankle, and their 2 or 3 eyelet open lacing system.
How to wear chukka boots
One of the more versatile styles you’ll have in your wardrobe, there’s no real right or wrong way to wear chukka’s – in fact, as men’s boots go, they’re one of the best out there in terms of how you can wear them in different ways.
If you’re looking to nail that smart/casual balance at a nice dinner over the weekender or for date night, chukka’s look great teamed up with a pair of slim fitting dark denim. Cuffed with a single turn up just above the lace to show the full profile of the boot, wear a shirt and jacket for the warmer months or a chunky knit and coat for the winter – their shape allows you to go from rugged to sleek very easily.
If your work outfits are fairly relaxed, try chukka’s with chino trousers – tan or navy will do, and a simple merino knit can finish it off to keep your look sharp and professional.
Tread carefully if you’re planning on wearing your chukka’s with a suit. Depending on the cloth, they can sometimes look a touch too casual – stick to heavier fabrics, and make sure the trousers break around the top of the boot instead of draping over them. Also opt for a leather fabrication and give them a good shine beforehand.
Are chukka boots comfortable?
With plenty of ankle support and a lacing system that lets you wear them as tightly or loosely as you like, yes.
Unlike some other boots that sit to high and can rub on your ankles, chukka’s finish just short in terms of height, making them great for strolling the streets in all day. Duke + Dexter chukka boots also feature a rubberised sole, which gives all day comfort and plenty of durability, so you won’t find yourself back home desperate to take them off after a long day.
Can you wear chukka boots in the summer?
Of course! If you’re living in climes like us where the temperature tends to drop in the evenings, chukka boots can definitely make an appearance during the summer.
Suede chukka boots are great for warmer, drier weather – they not only offer a rich look but also help to lighten up your outfit, making them great for wearing with neutrals like tan, green, brown and beige – the colours you’ll want to be wearing when you’re out and about on warm evenings… we wouldn’t advise you style your Chukka boots with a pair of shorts, though…
What do you wear with brown chukka boots?
You might have heard the phrase “brown for town” floating around; it was coined a fair few years ago when shoes were considered to be casual if they were anything but black leather, laced up and more like something you’d find in a 1950’s banker’s office than in your local bar or pub. Thankfully, those days are over and brown shoes are the norm, pretty much everywhere.
Brown Chukka boots are good for most occasions, as long as you stay away from the uber formal side of your wardrobe.
To make sure you get it right though, consider the fabric – suede can look expensive and plush, but also doesn’t offer the shine of leather so will always feel a little more casual.
If you’re leaning to be a touch dressier, brown leather Chukka boots are a great option – shine them up for an occasion then team them with denim for casual days.
What’s the difference between chukka boots and chelsea boots?
Put simply – one word – laces. Typically Chelsea boots feature elasticated gussets – a great styling edition, but not always the most practical to get on and off. Chukka boots feature a traditional lacing system, which makes them easy to care for and easy to component replace in case you get a snapped lace a few years down the line.
The profile of a chukka boot is also different to Chelsea boots – you’ll find they sit a little bit lower and can sometimes feel a bit more casual because of this. The toe is generally a little more rounded too, giving a touch more width – although with modern designs, this is sometimes altered to give the boot a sleeker look.
If you’re looking to get more versatility and want a boot that can go from casual to smart, consider a rich shade of brown, or a pair of leather chukka boots.