Practical leather boots Our stylists’ favourites for you, plus some tips on how to wear them well

Why you need practical leather boots
Boots are the most useful thing you can have as the weather slowly becomes autumnal. You can keep wearing your usual t-shirts and chinos, but use boots to keep you warm and save your feet from getting drenched when the weather turns iffy—and keep you from looking unseasonal.

Stylist, Alexander McCalla

The best clothes to wear with them

Practical leather boots are utilitarian by design. So styling them is easy: just pick other pieces that are also made with practicality in mind.

Clothes like parkas, thick jumpers and jeans will look stylish with leather boots—but in an easy, natural way.

The boots that won’t need replacing

Built to resist rain, wind and dirt, leather boots will protect your feet from inclement weather and will naturally last longer.

While a pair of leather boots will need only occasional resoling, synthetic boots are more likely to tear and scuff—and need replacing.

The best practical boots for you
  • Lace-ups: Between smart and casual, they work well with chinos, straight or slim indigo jeans, or even formal trousers.
  • Chukkas: On the casual side of smart casual, these go with chinos or jeans.
  • Work boots: As rugged as they look: they're great for country walks (but look good in the pub afterwards, too).
The sole options
  • Leather soles: The smart option, so you can wear them with a greater variety of clothes. They can wear quicker than rubber soles do, but you won't need to resole more than once a year, and it costs less than £15.
  • Rubber soles: Protective, grippy and durable—and casual. You can really only wear them with jeans and casual chinos.
The ways to keep them like new

If your boots get wet, don't dry them by the radiator. It'll dry the leather out too much.

Polishing the leather every few months does more than keep them looking smart. It makes the leather flexible and helps them last longer.

The size tip

Work boots and hiking boots are often sized to take thick walking socks into account, so either be prepared with some chunky socks yourself, or look into taking half a size down.

This shouldn’t be an issue with less outdoorsy styles such as chukkas and brogue boots.

The trouser advice

Because practical boots tend to be chunkier, skinny trousers don’t work well proportionally. Slim or straight trousers look much better.

And while you might think boot-cut jeans are an obvious choice, their name is misleading: this style isn't flattering.

The suit question

So: can you wear boots with a suit or formal trousers? Yes, but it takes some effort to get it right. “It's not the easiest combination," Alice says.

"If you want to wear yours with a suit, go for a classic style like brogue boots, make sure the detailing is kept to a minimum, and choose a pair with leather soles.”

The brown vs. black debate

“Don't worry about this one too much—both brown and black are pretty versatile,” says Alice.

Of the two, brown is more casual, so brown boots look great with blue jeans (but not with suits, black jeans, or formal trousers).

Black is a better option if you’re keen to go smart: they’ll go with just about any pair of dark trousers.