Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Men have plenty of options when it comes to footwear, and chukka boots provide them with an excellent way to display their personal style for any occasion.
Most men have owned a pair – some even two or three – and with so many editions available today, there are definitely a few perfectly suited for your collection. Men that want to know how to wear chukka boots need look no further as Outsons presents style hacks every guy needs to know.
Armed with these essentials, you have no option but to win…
What Is A Chukka Boot?
Chukka boots – pronounced like the yucca plant – have classic roots in menswear and are ankle-high, round-toed boots that typically have two to three eyelets along with thin laces and are available in a leather or suede style.
Chukka Boot vs. Desert Boot
For those that are not in the know, there is a difference between a pair of chukka boots and a pair of desert boots. Here at Outsons, we are dedicated to keeping you informed on the finer details in footwear. Generally speaking, chukka boots are ankle boots with three eyelets or less, whereas desert boots are chukkas made from light leather and have crepe rubber soles and can have three eyelets or more, but sometimes even fewer. So, a desert boot is a chukka boot, but not the other way around. These minor variations and tiny details between chukka boots and desert boots also lie in the side stitching, and when they can be worn.
The Origins Of The Name
Out of all the types of boots available in the menswear market, Chukka boots are the ones that definitely have the most peculiar name, with the name deriving from the playing period in polo matches known as the chukka, which is a play on the Hindi word ‘chukkar’ for ‘circle’. Chukka boots are also worn by polo players after a game because of their comfort compared to riding boots.
Leather Versus Suede Chukka Boots
Chukka boots are made out of leather and suede, each of which comes with their own characteristics that make them unique. Outsons breaks chukka boots down in a nutshell.
More durable than suede, the elevated value of leather dictates that they age exceptionally well over time, plus provide a classic, rugged look that adds to their appeal.
Perfect for a smart casual look or business attire, suede Chukka boots are extremely comfortable and produce a polished, smart look. Suede, however, requires more care and is not as durable as their leather counterparts.
Are Chukka Boots Still in Style?
Outsons is the perfect destination for men to learn how to properly style chukka boots for any outfit, and their popularity among men of all ages is a testament to their versatility and iconic design. When you are wearing leather chukka boots with the right outfit, it is easy to create a fashion statement that leaves a mark. As a casual option, chukka boots can be worn to informal events, or with smart or business attire. Outsons is here to help men learn the ins and outs of pairing them with their clothes in the best manner.
From skinny jeans and a t-shirt with a smart blazer, or chinos with a long-sleeved fitted shirt, chukka boots offer the kind of versatility that few boots can match. The following are some pointers to wear chukka boots the best way.
A pair of chukka boots are ideal for a casual outfit, meaning that they are perfect paired with jeans or chinos for a low-key yet stylish look. If you decide to, wear them with black jeans, a sport coat, and a t-shirt for a great pairing. Brown suede chukka boots also look great with twill chinos, and a V-neck sweater to make the ultimate outfit.
For a look that falls into the smart-casual category, a pair of chukka suede boots darker in tone and paired with dark jeans, a statement t-shirt, and a jacket is an easy yet amazing casual look to pull off. Another excellent outfit option is to opt for chukka boots, jeans, and a boldly colored blazer for a semiformal event.
Business Casual Attire
You can pull off a look under the business casual attire simply by pairing the chukka boot with a suit combination that entails a cashmere sweater, a fitted pair of chino pants, and black suede chukka boots. Whether you decide on casual chukka boots for work or the chukka boot with suit option, this is a look that you can wear on casual Fridays at work with no qualms.
What Are Chukka Boots Good For?
Now that you know how to wear chukka boots, now the question is why would you wear a pair as part of your look? The main reason for many men is the versatility that you are afforded when you have chukka boots. They are an excellent choice for men to consider since they are classic boots that are fine for wearing at work or at play. Ultimately, how you style chukka boots dictates whether your finished look veers more casual or formal. The choice is totally up to you!
Caring for Chukka Boots
That pair of leather chukka boots you bought at first may shine bright and beautiful, but in order to keep them that way you will have to put in the work to ensure that they maintain optimal durability. To keep that coveted shine on your favorite leather chukka shoes, you need to choose the right shade of polish to spruce them up regularly.
As you are probably already aware, the maintenance necessary on a pair of suede shoes requires a bit more effort, but chukka boots in suede are well worth the added work. Invest in a horsehair brush to raise the nap and remove any excess dirt, and spray regularly with a suede protector.
As the seasons change, so do the maintenance requirements for chukka boots, which means waterproofing those leather chukka boots you paid good money for a very necessary thing if you want them to look great for a longer time. Before you buy a pair, read the product description thoroughly to ensure that they meet your standards and are resilient enough to handle the harshest months of the year.
How to Buy Chukka Boots
Once you have made the decision to take the plunge and add chukka boots to your wardrobe, one of the first decisions is to decide on the materials that are used to make them. Buying a dark brown chukka boot that is made of poor quality materials will not last long, will not provide the comfort you need, and will fall apart in only a few months through wear and tear. Here we cover the different types of leather used to construct chukka boots.
Grades of Leather
Top Grain Leather
Lacing chukka boots of the highest quality will typically be made with top grain leather, which is quite strong and is well regarded for lasting several years, making it worth the higher price point.
Full Grain Leather
Also quite durable since it is sourced deeper from the outermost layer of the hide of a cow, full grain leather wears well over time and can be found in many brands of chukka boots.
Whether searching for a desert boot, Chelsea boot, or basically any type of boot, the genuine leather grade is by far the most confusing since it encompasses any range between 10% to 90%. What this means when you boil it all down is that those leather shoes you buy may not actually have all that much leather in them. This is where a bit of research is useful so that you don’t end up with a rubber sole and genuine leather that is more another material than what you believe it to be.
Suede, being a mix between full grain and genuine leather, is sourced from the lower section of cowhide and then sanded to produce the velvety finish. But since it is sourced from the lower part of the hide, it is not as durable as top or full grain leather. Suede also stains quite easily too, so if you are high-maintenance or are a weekend warrior, that is something to take into consideration.
Another component of chukka boots that must not be overlooked are the outsoles if you want a durable shoe that truly lasts. Stitching is important here and the recommended options are a Blake stitch or a Goodyear welt. With these two selections, it is possible to have a new outsole sewn on after you have owned a pair of chukka boots for a while.
Chukka Colors to Consider
The allure of chukka boots is the color variations men are able to employ when it comes to their own sense of style. Add two or three pairs to your footwear collection and you will have just about every look covered from casual daywear to semi-formal events. How to wear chukka boots lies completely within your own hands and you have more of a choice in the direction you take with them.
With that in mind, you should take into consideration the colors that are available and which ones would work best for your office look and for a casual outfit. Currently, there is almost a literal rainbow of colors to choose from, but a few of the more popular hues include red, green, purple, and burgundy chukka boots. For more classic colours, however, men can still opt for a traditional look with black, brown, tan, and gray to add to their wardrobe.
How To Wear Chukka Boots: What You Need To Know
It is certainly advantageous for men to add a pair of chukka boots to their wardrobe as they offer several ways to elevate the personal style. Not only are they the perfect complement to many types of looks for both the workplace or on the town, but they offer a classic design that is timeless. At the end of the day, if you want to maintain an elevated sense of style, buy two or three pairs of chukka boots, take great care of them, and they will do the same for you. Now that you know how to wear chukka boots, our advice to you is to wear them well and wear them often.
Feature image: @manofmany