The (Still) Very Useful Work Boot

November 24, 2014

The (Still) Very Useful Work Boot

The craze for Americana/ workwear clothing seems to have died down, but the trend did leave us with some very useful things. Raw denim jeans are still great, and light blue chambray shirts are still handy. I also find that work boots remain versatile, even if you don’t care to dress like an mid-century lumberjack. I wear a pair of Oak Street Bootmakers Trench boots, for example, with leather motorcycle jackets, navy wool peacoats, and olive green field coats. Paired with jeans, these are the kind of clothes that will look great with wear, even if you don’t invest in a lot of upkeep. Just check out how those work boots pictured above look with all their scuffs, stains, and heavy wrinkles. 

There are a bunch of places to get work boots – either those actually designed for heavy labor, or those that will only do the work of making you look good. From the affordable to most expensive, here are some to consider:

Under $300

  • Thorogood: Chunky work boots made in the USA. Their moc-toes look like some of the popular models from Red Wing, but come at a much more affordable price.
  • Chippewa: Some of Chippewa’s boots have a slightly sleeker profile than Thorogood’s models, which makes them a little easier to wear off a job site. You can find them online and at J. Crew (where they’re sometimes discounted). Amazon has this model right now for $96 with the checkout code HOLIDAY25. 
  • Danner: Although their Stumptown line mostly has hiking boots, there are also some work-inspired options. Like Red Wing and Chippewa, these are made in the USA.
  • Red Wing: The Heritage line is built to the same standards as Red Wing’s mainline work boots, but is more targeted towards a fashion crowd. The Beckham, Iron Ranger, and classic moc toe boots are their most popular models. You can find them at End, Nordstrom, Standard & Strange, and Brooks Brothers. They also sometimes pop up on Sierra Trading Post, where you use DealFlyer coupons to knock down the listed price. 
  • What Price Glory: There aren’t that many reviews online of their footwear, but if you’re looking for something in the sub-$150 range, these guys might be worth looking into.

Between $300 and $500

  • Oak Street Bootmaker: OSB just released their Trench Boot in a couple of new materials (including suede and number 8 Chromexcel calf). They have a slightly lower toe profile than true work boots, which I find easier to wear with a range of casual clothing. 
  • RRL: Another fashion-orientated line. I like their Clifton model
  • Nicks: A true workboot company. They’ll take custom orders, which some Reddit user made a good guide for here.
  • Whites: Similar to Nicks in that they offer customizable work boots. Again, best to refer to this Reddit guide if you’re buying.
  • Dayton: Canadian work boot company. Their service boot is popular, and the charcoal nubuck color goes well with black jeans. 
  • Wolverine: Wolverine’s 1000 Mile model has a slightly upturned toe, giving it a more substantial look. Once in a blue moon, you’ll see these pop up as a factory seconds at Sierra Trading Post, but popular sizes sell out within an hour or two. If you but a pair, be warned that some of the defects are more visible than what you’d find on, say, Allen Edmonds factory seconds

Over $500

  • Viberg: Like Red Wing, Viberg is an old work boot company that has a line for the style-conscious crowd. Their boots are great if you want something rugged and workwear inspired, but isn’t an actual work boot. They sell models directly on their site, but you can often find unique make-ups at 3sixteen, Mr. Porter, The Bureau Belfast, Superdenim, Cultizm, Leffot, and every once in a while StyleForum.
  • Mister Freedom: One of the best when it comes to workwear inspired clothing. They have a leather and canvas boot that’s modeled after mid-century military shoes.
  • Alden: The Indy boot is a long time favorite among style enthusiasts, and arguably the most versatile among the options listed here. Available at LeffotShoe Mart, and Unionmade

(Photos via Oak Street Bootmakers, Superfuture user nizzel55, and Andrew Chen of 3sixteen)