Learn all about the versatile Chukka boot, its hallmark features, How To Wear it, What to Look For When You Buy It, and what mistakes to avoid.
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The term Chukka is derived from the Hindi word ‘chukkar’ meaning ‘circle’ or ‘turn’.
What makes a Chukka boot a Chukka boot? First of all, a chukka boot has ankle height, it has three eyelets on each side or two.
- Moreover, you always want a rounded toe box, not too pointy, not too boxy but nicely rounded.
- Another main characteristic of the Chukka boot is the suede leather.
- A chukka boot is always made in two parts. For one, the Vamp and the Quarters which come together for open lacing system.
- Another hallmark of a Chukka boot is a leather sole that is thin. Sometimes, you can also see a crepe sole which is natural rubber and that is definitely more casual.
- Traditionally, the chukka boots are unlined but in this day and age, you often find them lined with a regular leather lining.
It's safe to say that the chukka boot originated in India when English players played the polo game and they will wear the shoe to play polo. Subsequently, this boot found its way to the public and to the west and it became particularly popular because of the then Prince of Wales and later Duke of Windsor who just wore this boot and was soon picked up by all the media and press.
You may have heard of the word 'desert boot' and basically, it's exactly a Chukka boot with a crepe sole. The most well known manufacturer is Clarks from the UK and today they make desert boots in all kinds of leather colors and they are rather fashion forward and they usually retail it between 1650 dollars.
Originally, the Chukka boot came from the Polo fields but today, it is much more versatile. You can wear it with a suit, or just with a casual combination or even just with a shirt and some slacks. I found them particularly suitable for fall because the suede texture just fits in with all the other textures of your jacket, maybe your vest, your tie and your shirt and it's a great fall mood all around.
Just like with all shoes, the thinner the soles, the more elegant it is. So if you know that you just want to have a shoe for rugged outfits, try to get a chukka boot with a thicker sole otherwise, I would argue to go with a rather thin sole so you can wear it with suits and basically any type of garment.
Desert boots often are just rougher, have a thicker sole, especially the crepe sole, if that is more of your style, that's okay but then specifically choose desert boot over the traditional chukka boot. In terms of color, brown or dark brown is really the best that most traditional , classic color of this shoe. Sometimes, you can also find it in tan, I can also see navy or dark green but if you start out and if you want a boot that is very versatile, stick with dark brown suede.
You'll even find chukka boots with contrast stitching and while that looks pretty cool, it's quite limiting. The problem is it's irreversible so you can't really wear it with a suit, instead what I do is I wear colorful shoelaces from Fort Belvedere. Yellow or in red to mix things up and dress my chukka boot down and if I want more formal outfit, I go with tone and tone dark laces with my chukka boots so I can wear it with a navy suit for example.
Overall, the chukka boot is a really versatile boot, can be worn with corduroy, jeans, khakis, dress pants and suits, even dark suits and you will hardly notice the difference to a regular dark brown shoe. The suede texture is particularly nice for fall and if you're just starting out with your boot collection, this is definitely one of the top contenders to look at.
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