It’s too wet for ballet flats, too cold for sandals, and too warm for riding boots: Autumn, many people will say, is definitely the most difficult season in terms of footwear! Knowing the struggle from first-hand (or -foot) experience, I’ve come up with a little series that introduces you to some real classics … Starting with one of the most iconic shoes ever!
(John Baker’s Chelsea-Boot D178 Lackleder schwarz (3) by Spera.de Designerschuhe is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
Whereas quite a lot of people tend to jump from open sandals straight to riding or UGG boots, or simply rock their ballet flats until the first snow, I prefer to fall back on some real shoe cabinet staples I’ve collected over the years precisely to get me through the colder (but not really cold) months. This might initially cause some expenses, but if you take good care of your footwear, classics like the ones I’m about to show you will accompany you for many years.
- Queen Victoria’s Favourite Shoe!
To start off my little series, I’ve picked a classic that deserves its name: Did you know that Chelsea boots go back to Queen Victoria’s shoemaker J. Sparkes-Hall, who patented the design back in 1851? According to Sparkes-Hall, Queen Victoria wore these shoes both when hiking and horseback-riding, which can be considered a first clue as to when these shoes should be worn.
Chelsea boots are close-fitting, ankle-high boots that typically come with an elastic side panel: My pair is lacking a such, making it a “zip ankle boot” to be perfectly precise: But in terms of looks and function, there is virtually no difference between this hybrid and a true Chelsea boot! Therefore don’t hesitate to go for a pair of zip ankle boots instead of a classic Chelsea if you like them better.
My well-loved pair has already accompanied me through a whole winter’s worth of storm, rain and mud, but it still looks perfectly decent. Just keep a pack of shoe shines wipes at your entrance door or even in your purse, and your Chelseas will be your companion for many an autumn/winter.
- When To Wear?
As Queen Victoria’s recorded use suggests, Chelsea boots are definitely more of a heavy-duty kind of shoe. Unless you went for a pair of suede ones, leather Chelseas are ideal for those seriously rainy and muddy days, when you neither want to nor can afford to go out of every puddle’s way. Contrary to other models in this series, they are also going to serve you well during proper wintertime!
- How To Wear?
Since Chelsea boots can be worn both by men and women, they add a very sober touch to your outfit: Don’t wear Chelseas if you wish to look more feminine or delicate!
Sparkes-Hall’s creation has definitely seen a huge revival in edgy, laid-back combinations that seem like an extension of their initial use. They are nowadays paired with skinny (click for pictures) or boyfriend jeans (click for pictures) that hit your ankle just above the end of the boot shaft, so that there’s a little bit of skin on display. Roll up your pant legs if necessary, to achieve the desired length; in case of the boyfriend-jeans-combo, you could even wear coarse socks to complete the look. You have to remember, though, that both of these looks make your legs look shorter and more chunky!
If you are interested in a more classic and slimming combination, go for black Chelseas: They are especially easy to pair with black trousers worn inside your shoe, thus making for a very seamless and elegant look that is both very flattering and perfectly appropriate for a day at work. Isn’t this Kennel & Schmenger pair just gorgeous? #wishlist!
(Kennel & Schmenger Chelsea-Boot 81 28670.270 schwarz (2) by Spera.de Designerschuhe is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
You could also pair Chelsea boots with dresses or skirts if you wanted to: Keep in mind again, however, that a contrasting ankle boot will visually shorten your legs: I therefore tend to pair black tights with black Chelseas. But if you’ve got really long and skinny legs, you can also definitely get away with pairing contrasting Chelseas, bare legs/nylons and, again, coarse socks 🙂