Chukka boot vs Chelsea boot — What’s the difference?

As the colder mornings become more frequent, it’s not hard to tell that winter is well on its way. But, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom —  take the start of autumn as a chance to refresh your wardrobe or dig out some items that you haven’t seen since the last cold snap.

One necessary part of a man’s winter wardrobe is an appropriate boot. Two of the most popular boots are Chukka and Chelsea boots, but where did they originate from? What are the differences and how do you style them?

Gentleman fashion specialists and retailers of sand leather shoes, Frank Wright, are here to provide us with a handy guide.

The fashionable Chukka

Many believe that the name ‘Chukka’ came from the word ‘chukker’ in the game polo which is a seven-minute period of the game. It is uncertain whether the shoes were worn throughout the game or by the players afterwards.

During World War II, the Chukka boot was worn by soldiers who were trekking through difficult terrain. After this, the style became introduced into every man’s wardrobe. They went on to become a major fashion piece in England during the 1950s. Ever since, they’ve remained at the forefront of men’s fashion – wearable for casual or smart occasions.

A Chukka boot is also known as a desert or turf boot. It is recognised by its ankle length cut and pairs of eyelets for laces. They generally have a classic, plain toe design and an open lacing system. This style of shoe is usually crafted from calfskin or suede but leather can be used too – making the shoe more durable in the colder months.

The classic Chelsea

It is believed that the Chelsea boot originates back to the Victorian era. Their popularity rose in the 1960s in Great Britain as they became linked with the mod scene. They also were associated with King’s Road, a street in Chelsea, and it is thought that this is where their name derived from. Celebrities such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones helped boost their popularity.

The Chukka boot and the Chelsea boot are alike in some ways including its length and material. The Chelsea style of shoe is ankle length and generally made of suede or leather. It is characterised by its iconic elasticated panels that allow the shoe to slip on and off, and often there is a tab of fabric on the back of the boot. The fit of the shoe should be a close fit, and any flexibility in the shoe should be in the side panels – not in the instep.

Styling for this season

There are many key trends this season, but how can you style your boot to keep up with the latest fashion?

Chukka boot

Choose a Chukka instead of a brogue if you’re looking to dress for the warmer weather or wanting to appear more casual. When matching the shoe to the occasion, look closely at the finer details of the boot. Synthetic fabrics and some suedes are more suited to a casual event whereas leather and smarter suedes can be worn more formally. Also examine the sole – the thinner the sole, the finer the shoe. More casual Chukka books can be recognised by a thicker sole and rougher stitching, giving a quirkier appearance.

The Chukka boots sits nicely with a range of styles, although their features are seen more when worn with a narrow legged trouser. Some men prefer a shorter hem; pair with patterned socks for a stylish, casual outfit. Designs on the catwalk for this season included oversized jackets and knitwear. Wear with an extra-long, smart jacket with dark jeans and brown Chukka boots to keep practical and on trend.

There are some ways to dress up the boot too. Match a rounded toe, brown Chukka boot with a navy or mid-grey suit. Or, couple the same boots with moss green trousers – a prominent colour on the AW 17/18 catwalk.

Chelsea boot

The Chelsea boot can be worn with many outfits too. Although suede is often the material of choice for this style, to protect from the colder weather and rain, opt for a leather boot to get you through the autumn and winter.

One key trend this season is the roll neck jumper. Pair a dark roll neck jumper with skinny jeans and a Chelsea boot for casual evening attire. Or for a smarter look, a grey suit with brown leather Chelsea boots and a matching briefcase.

On the AW 17/18 catwalk, many designers took the plunge and went for more daring colours when it comes to tailoring. Extend the colours in your wardrobe with an autumnal coloured suit such as burgundy or blue and pair with Chelsea boots – make sure that the trousers sit just over the top of the boot to show off the shoe but remain smart.


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