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How to find the perfect pair of boots

How to find the perfect pair of boots

A great pair of boots is an investment. But it's one that pays off. “They're usually more expensive than other shoes, but they're worth splashing out on,” says Thread stylist Alice. “For one thing, they're timeless. Boot styles have been around for decades, and they’re not going to go out of style. Also, you can wear them for years because they work on guys of every age. Lastly, they age well. Most boots look better when they’ve been worn for a bit and aren't box-fresh.” Here's how to find your perfect pair.

Think form and function

All boots rise above the ankle. But that's the only thing they've got in common. Chelsea boots do a very different job to a pair designed for hiking and the perfect pair for you depends on your lifestyle. If you tend to live in suits, you want something sleeker, like Chelseas or black Oxfords. If you're more of a jeans guy, think brown brogue boots or even a heritage hiker (that means leather, not Gore-tex).

Generally, it's easier to dress boots down than up, so start with the smartest occasion you'd want to wear them, and make sure they work for that. A pair of Chelseas will still look good with smart jeans, for example. But it's hard to wear hikers with a suit.

Try them on with the right socks…

Not all hosiery is created equal and this is especially true when it comes to boots. Right off the bat, you can forget about your trainer liners or invisible socks – they’ll only slide down your foot and become a nuisance.

Depending on the height of the shoe, you will perhaps need a longer style of sock than you’re used to. You may also need to try on varying thickness of socks. While Chelsea boots will work with your usual dress socks, something like a hiking boot or a work boot needs a chunkier sock to prevent blisters. After all, there’s a reason walkers say your boots are only as good as your socks.

…and at the right time

Your feet naturally swell during the day, so the afternoon or evening is the best time to try on your new purchases. That way, you’ll be prepared for how your boots will fit after a day’s walking around.

Don’t assume foot size

If the last time you got your feet measured was for a pair of school shoes, then you might consider getting them reassessed. Yes, you might have worn a size 10 for your entire adult life but weight changes, injuries, and other factors can change the shape and size of your foot.

While you’re at it, get both feet measured as they aren’t necessarily the same size. It’s rare that your feet will differ by more than half a size, but if they do, you should buy the size that fits the larger foot. Don’t forget to measure the width of your foot as well – some brands now offer their footwear in different widths for maximum comfort. Also, bear in mind that certain brands and models will fit differently even if they’re labelled the same size.

Do a fit test

The first test is simply standing in your shoes. Sitting down isn’t enough because your feet splay when you stand, so you need to stand with your weight evenly distributed for an accurate test. Then, try going on your tip-toes in the boots to make sure that your toes aren’t hitting the front or top of the boot.

Finally, ask yourself how comfortable they feel. Remember, they might look good, but if they don’t fit then you won’t end up wearing them. Boots are an investment purchase and you want to feel supported and secure when you put on the right-size boot. Call it your Cinderella moment, if you will.

Words: Theresa Harold