As the Southern African winter steadily shows us its iciest hand, sartorial choices can skew disproportionately towards the practical, at the expense of form. Looking unforgiving elements dead in the eye and pulling off a pleasing aesthetic, while remaining warm is a delicate feat. What one puts on their feet is as important as a good overcoat, and the Chelsea Boot is a particularly stylish foil to winter’s brutality.
The snug boots with elastic side panels, dating back to 19th Century England, have lasted through various shifts in global menswear, gaining particular popularity in the 1950s and 60s on the feet of the Rolling Stones, among many Mods and other peacocks around the King’s Road area of Chelsea, London. This fact is thought to have given the boot the name we now know it by.
Not to be confused with the Beatle Boot – the iconic band’s footwear of choice, inspired by the Chelsea Boot, with a tighter fit around the ankle, a Cuban heel and slightly pointier toe – the Chelsea boot’s known history dates back to Queen Victoria’s shoemaker Joseph Sparkes-Hall, who in 1851 patented a design which became as popular as a walking shoe, as it was for riding.
“What one puts on their feet is as important as a good overcoat, and the Chelsea Boot is a particularly stylish foil to winter’s brutality.”
Fast forward to the 21st Century, versatility is still the word, and you could do much worse for a seamless office to dinner date shoe, with jeans or suit . The distinctive side panels provide a sense of comfort, while warming up those ankles. If you take regular care – summoning the diligence to wipe them at the end of the day, or putting a wet rag to them to get rid of specs of mud, and polishing them regularly – periodic sole changes are all you need do for a lifetime. The covetable pair in the image is from Saint Laurent and is about as perfect as perfect gets.
Image from Mr Porter.