As we leave summer behind, including barely-there sandals and flip flops, the must-have fall shoe is inarguably the combat boot. A staple for the crisp weather, the combat boot resolutely makes a “comeback” every year, which makes us wonder: has the combat boot ever left? The lace-up ankle boot is a wardrobe staple, perfectly paired with both jeans and dresses. I simply cannot resist a versatile shoe—and either can the likes of Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber and Hailey Bieber, who have all been spotted donning combat boots.
With the continuing rise of the prairie girl dress, the combat boot is the perfect shoe to counter its twee implications. It makes sense to pair hyper-feminine clothes with a sturdy punk shoe. Shoes metaphorically (and literally) ground an outfit, and combat boots even more so, disallowing an outfit from becoming too cutesy. The combat boot has the power to make any outfit automatically look put together and there’s no other way to say it, but they’re just plain cool. The combat boot proved to be a staple of fall runways (to name a few: Prada, Miu, Miu, Bottega Veneta, and The Row), and we expect to see many more at NYFW this September.
Of course, you can’t get any more classic than Doc Martens. A staple of the London-punk movement in the 60s and 70s, Docs are the eponymous combat boot. While the stiff leather famously takes a while to break in, once it does the shoe is basically molded to your foot. In other words: it’s worth it. Earlier this month, Ray Goodman, the owner of iconic New York store Trash and Vaudeville, talked to The Cut about the rise of Doc Martens in America. “In 1974, I went to London for an internship. I was a student at F.I.T. and was blown away by what was happening with fashion there. When I opened the shop, I started taking trips back for inspiration,” he says. “All the kids had these amazing Mohawks and wore Docs, so I decided to bring some back with me to sell. Right away, people were coming in for them; they already had some steam because of the Clash,” he continues. Fashion often revolves around nostalgia for previous generations, and it’s worth thinking about why the combat boot, a symbol of anti-establishment, continues to be in style.
Last year, Marc Jacobs collabed with Doc Marten to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Marc Jacobs's catwalk show for Perry Ellis. The Marc Jacobs’s Redux Collection was a slightly updated version of the classic Doc: slightly taller, reaching well above the ankle for a narrower fit. The lavender version (my favorite) highlights the contrast stitching which a) is very on-trend b) a staple of Doc’s legacy.
Launching September 1st, Rag & Bone’s Shiloh boot gives the Doc Marten a run for its money as a classic version of a classic shoe. The boot has taken all the best features of previous iterations of combat boots, and combined them into one shoe (chunky sole, contrasting black and white colorways, hits right above the ankle, not too flashy). But what I love about the Shiloh boot is the way Rag & Bone has styled it throughout their site, proving the versatility of the shoe. It’s shown with a skirt, a dress, cargo pants, and even overalls. The combat boots’ styling possibilities are endless and if anything, the lookbook demonstrates that combat boots are worth the investment: come fall and winter, you’ll be able to wear them every day. The Shiloh boot reminds me of Rachel Comey's Estate Belt, which I consider the most-perfect version of a classic that you can fold into your everyday wardrobe. Having a few well-made clothing staples that can be styled infinitely, matching high and low priced pieces, has the ability to elevate a wardrobe. A good belt and a sturdy pair of leather boots will never lead you astray.
It’s also worth considering that the combat boot has a long history as the anti-establishment shoe. Fashion stylist Lori Goldstein tells The Cut, “In the ’80s and ’90s, we were all wearing combat boots constantly: It was our rebellion against the expectation that we’d be that classic ’80s executive woman who wore heels and an Armani suit. We wanted to say ‘Fuck you’ to the Establishment — we wouldn’t dress how you told us to,” she says. Perhaps the anti-establishment and punk roots of the combat boots can explain the shoe’s continuing popularity. As the “establishment” (aka the government) is continuously corrupt, there’s a power to dressing counter to what is considered “pretty” or “normal” and instead opting for a lasting symbol of revolt.
Shop some of our favorite combat boots below:
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue