Everyone has a favorite era that their personal style harkens back to. For me, that era would definitely be the Swingin’ 60s—a time for well-tailored Mod suits, slightly shaggy hair, and the perfect boots to go with both: the Chelsea boot. When The Beatles invaded America they didn’t just bring catchy tunes and their Liverpool accents, they also popularized this style. Originally designed as a walking shoe for Queen Victoria, the Chelsea boot is almost 200 years old yet it still looks timeless.
The Chelsea boot appeals to guys for many reasons. It’s easy to slip on and off. Elastic added to the quarters and a heel tab in the back make the process effortless. Without laces the shape of the boot is sleek and minimal so it’s easy to pair with tailored suits, making them a great choice when you need extra ankle coverage in colder weather. On the other hand the Chelsea boot looks great with jeans and can easily be incorporated into your weekend wardrobe all year long.
In 1851 Queen Victoria’s shoemaker, J. Sparkes-Hall, submitted a patent for a shoe that both he and the queen favored. In the throws of the Industrial Revolution, the invention of vulcanized rubber and the elastic gusset boot provided new materials and inspiration for an easy to wear boot fit for royalty. It wasn’t until 110 years later that the Chelsea picked up its name from the hip London neighborhood where Mod style was born. From King’s Road to Brighton, British youth took styles previously reserved for the elite—tailored suits, Italian leather shoes—and turned wearing them into an act of rebellion. After the British invasion, Americans would refer to the Chelsea as “the beetle boot” for obvious reasons, but we prefer to honor its youth cult status by calling them by their first name.
You can characterize the Chelsea boot by its low heel, rounded toe, high ankle, and the elastic or vulcanized rubber that connects the vamp and the quarters at the ankle. The elastic not only makes this boot a breeze to slip on and off, but it adds to its comfort and longevity. Sometimes you’ll see modified styles of the Chelsea with pointed toes or a zipper in the back. All Chelsea boots are sewn together in one plain below the ankle.
When picking out your pair of Chelsea boots, keep in mind that without laces you won’t be able to make them tighter for a better fit so find a pair that is snug without being too tight. The whole point of the Chelsea is it’s a boot of simplicity and sleekness, so look for a thinner leather sole to maintain a minimalist aesthetic. The elastic should also be high quality—shoddy elastic will wear out quickly making the fit too loose around the ankle. This may sound like a lot to take into consideration so let me make it easy for you. Paul Evans’ Dean Chelsea boots are handcrafted in Italy using the finest materials—both leather and elastic—so they will last you for years to come. When it comes to a style that has remained popular this long, it’s good to opt for quality and longevity.