Easy Ways to Wear Men’s Desert Boots

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Desert boots are some of the most stylish and versatile shoes a man can own. Wondering about the best ways to style this staple piece of men’s footwear fashion? Check out our definitive guide on easy ways to wear men’s desert boots.  

Desert boots are a great addition to your wardrobe. They can take you through the whole year, and are suitable for both formal and casual events. You can make the most of your purchase by taking them everywhere.

Invest in a good pair and they’ll last years. But, with a wide variety, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one pair. Why not suede? Why not leather? The possibilities are endless. Despite their versatility, many men are still afraid to wear desert boots as part of their outfit. Well, don’t be. Check out the rest of this style guide for the best easy ways to wear them.

Best Desert Boots

The desert boot was made popular during the 1950s due to the shoe brand Clarks. They were originally a military shoe that soldiers in Africa would wear during the Second World War. However, in the 50s, C&J Clark Ltd decided that the boot could easily be popular with a commercial public market.

Clark desert boots are undoubtedly the most famous in history. So much so that they have barely changed the design in over 50 years. Although there are many other shoe retailers that sell variations of desert boots, Clarks are always going to be the best around.

Typically, a Clark desert boot is an ankle high shoe, in either a suede or leather material. They have a distinctive crepe rubber sole and a simple upper with minimal detail. They also have a small lace section holding the boot on.

People Doing it Well

A testament to how great the desert boot is, it’s often the shoe of choice for many celebrities. Offering a perfect smart casual look, this boot is right for wearing out and about. Also, due to the unassuming nature of the desert boot, it’s a good choice when you’re trying to keep a subtle look. When it comes to celebrities, it means they can look stylish without being snapped wearing ridiculous clothes.

From Hollywood Boulevarde to Leicester Square, the desert boot has been a fan favourite for A-Listers for a while. Celebrities like Eddie Redmayne, Ryan Reynolds and Zac Efron are all avid lovers of the desert boot and pull the style off well.

Mr Efron smartens his up by pairing with chinos, a slick shirt and a matching waistcoat. The desert boot is clearly one of the easiest pieces to add to any outfit. This is an understated smart casual look that is effortlessly stylish.

Smart Casual

As you may already know, desert boots are great because you can wear them with a more smart outfit, as well as a casual look. This, therefore makes them the ultimate footwear style for men. If you’re going on a night out clubbing then this look is exactly what you want. You don’t want to look like you’re heading into the office. But, you also don’t want to appear as if you’re heading to the gym.

There are many ways to create a great looking smart casual look. However, the simplest way to achieve this style is to team a shirt with a pair of jeans. Much like the desert boot, jeans are one of those versatile items of clothing that work in more or less any clothing situation.

Smart Causal Desert Boot OutfitHeading on a mad night out? Keep your outfit casual by teaming your boots with skinny jeans, keeping it looking young and fresh. By adding in a plain long sleeve top, you’ll smarten it up but keep it low key with the tonal colour of the whole ensemble. The boots are a great idea for wetter nights out.

Combine it with a pair of dark black washed denim jeans to get a nice balance of colours within the outfit. The darkness of the jeans will create a uniformity between the tonal colours of your outfit also. Finish the look off with this pair of brown desert boots and you’re good to go. The brown from your shoes will add some extra detail to your look and stop it from becoming too dark and monochrome.

FormalJust as you can wear desert boots in a more casual environment, they’re also perfect for when you need to dress up formally. Whether it’s to the office, a wedding, or any other formal event, these boots are easily adjustable. Particularly a black pair. It is the boot’s simple design that makes them so versatile. If worn correctly they can look just as smart as a pair of formal shoes.

Much like desert boots, navy suits are great because of their versatility. Wear a navy suit with some black leather shoes and you have a professional look that is ready for any office. On the other hand, wear a navy suit with some brown desert boots, and you will still look extremely professional, but with more stylish detail and flare.

First Date

First impressions are everything, right? Due to their smart casual potential, desert boots are the perfect footwear style for a first date. They’re smart enough to make an impression and demonstrate that you’re a stylish man. However, they’re also casual enough to not overload your outfit and make you seem like you’re trying too hard.

The great thing about desert boots is that they can be dressed up and down so they’re perfect for your first encounter. You’ll be looking to impress on a first date so will want to look fresh and smart, without trying too hard. Again keep the boots low key in brown, and style with slim or skinny jeans. Wear a smart jumper for added formality, and a shirt to add some more stylish detail to your look.

Desert Boots with Shorts

When you think of wearing shorts, you probably think of summer days, chilling in a park or at a festival. However, you probably don’t think about wearing shorts with desert boots. You probably assume that you always have to wear desert boots with suit trousers, chinos or jeans.

Well, when desert boots originally came into existence, as an all-purpose military boot for soldiers in Africa during the Second World War, men would often wear them with shorts. As you may have guessed, the desert boot name originates from the hot desert-like terrain that soldiers would wear these boots in.

Wearing desert boots with shorts can, therefore, be an extremely stylish and classic look. If you’re going to attempt this style then it’s probably a good idea to stick with more autumnal and monochrome like colours. Olive green, brown and grey are perfect for this look.

How to Clean Suede Desert BootsIf you’re wearing boots in suede then you’re probably worried about getting them dirty. Many men still fear wearing suede shoes in case they ruin them as soon as they get dirty. Although it is a good idea to protect your suede shoes before wearing them with it isn’t the end of the world if they get a bit dirty.

To clean suede boots, you will need:

  • Shoe brush
  • Suede rubber
  • Suede brush
  • Nail brush
  • Clean cloth

Begin by using a shoe brush to remove any loose dirt on the surface of the shoe. Next, use a suede rubber or nail brush to disturb the nap of the material and get the deeper set marks. If this doesn’t get them, use a clean damp cloth to get stuck in. Finally, restore the nap of the boot with a suede brush. If you’re still not sure, here’s a helpful video.


Originating in WWII, the desert boot has been around for several decades. The footwear was favoured in the hot conditions of Africa as they were extremely comfortable due to the suede material. Also, The crepe sole was flatter, allowing the surface area to be better spread over the ever-changing sand.

Nathan Clark, of Clarks shoes, was stationed in Northern Africa and realised their potential. After returning home, he started creating his own version. He sourced the best materials and used a pattern from a sandal that Clarks Shoes already had. Clark began to experiment with different styles and ways of construction to make these famous boots. They even incorporated orange thread to further distinguish the shoe.

The desert boot grew in popularity and has found its way into our modern wardrobe, and looks like it’ll be staying around for a while. It played a massive role during the 80s and 90s with the mod scene. Bands such as Oasis further cemented the boots in mainstream culture and the public went wild for them.

Easy Ways to Wear Men’s Desert Boots

  • Colour and material – desert boots come in a variety of colours, don’t be afraid to mix these with your outfits
  • Smart casual – a T-Shirt, jeans or chinos and some brown desert boots and you won’t go wrong
  • Formal – dress your desert boots up with a suit and you’ll show flare as well as confidence
  • Shorts – if you’re wearing shorts with your desert boots then keep the outfit simple
  • Clean – protect your desert boots with the right products and they’ll last a lifetime

On That Note

Despite finding it’s way to us from a uniform, which most of our wardrobe staples do originate from, the desert boot always manages to stay hip and modern. The choice between suede and leather leaves you with endless possibilities of outfit looks, a great investment if you’re looking for an item to last you all year round. You can literally take these bad boys through an a-z list of events and find an outfit every time, possibly even several. The options are endless so if you haven’t already, make sure you get yourself a pair of the classic desert boots.

Feature image from Pinterest

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