The options are practically limitless when considering how to wear desert boots in summer and winter. Chukkas, as they're also dubbed, have remained covetable since the 1950s, and due to their seasonless aesthetic, they're seen as a true sartorial staple.
Desert boots aid the wearer in navigating the tricky tightrope between smart and casual, appearing as sharp with a suit as they do with denim – for both men and women. As a result, designers and stylists return to the desert boots trend year on year. And each season the catwalks provide ample inspiration on wearing them, whether you're heading to London Fashion Week or dressing for off-duty days.
A walk in the park
The trees are burnished in autumnal hues, there’s a crisp chill in the air, but the sun is still bright – it’s an Instagrammer’s dream weather. But what to wear? A pair of desert boots could be your first port of call.
For SS16, Lou Dalton agreed; the designer's Haçienda-inspired collection featured tan men’s desert boots teamed with electric blue socks. Giving the Mancunian scene a sophisticated reboot, Dalton paired orange Harrington jackets with cargo shorts.
For an insouciant ensemble along the same vein, try rolled-up jeans from Dondup denim clothing with desert shoes and a 90s-style bomber jacket
Alternatively, consider providing a contemporary twist with more distinctive denim garments instead. The AW16 Miu Miu collection featured embroidered jean jackets, elongated denim skirts and classic chambray shirts. A maxi denim coat worn with patterned Etro trousers and women’s desert boots breaks with tradition.
Otherwise, take influence from the surrounding landscape and opt for florals. Valentino Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli, inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, produced day dresses with intricate botanical patterns for the fashion house's Pre-Fall 17 collection. Similarly styled with a peacoat or à la Burberry with a trench, an ultra-feminine tea dress would offset androgynous desert shoes.
A stroll on the beach
Originally, chukkas were designed for the South African military, the crepe soles and suede uppers being ideal for sandy terrains. Yet now that the desert boots trend has trickled down into civilian fashion, they’re regularly packed for exotic adventures – and relaxing beach holidays.
Consider channelling the footwear's utilitarian roots when deciding how to wear desert boots in summer and winter. Marc Jacobs opted for a military-referencing palette of navy, khaki and stone for SS15, so clothing akin to his sculptural canvas dresses and boxy jackets would be an ideal accompaniment. Over at Kenzo for SS16, designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon opted for a safari feel, and their longline shorts and Cuban collars would sit well with a pair of men’s desert boots.
The neutrality of the desert boot means it serves as an apt canvas for multiple trends. Chinoiserie was scattered across the menswear catwalks for SS16, with Gucci and James Long offering variations on the theme. Men’s Dolce & Gabbana shirts, decorated with birds perched in orange trees and stately architecture, would contrast pleasingly with a pair of knee-length shorts and your most minimalist desert shoes.
For SS17 Victoria Beckham’s diffusion line also hinted at Eastern inflexions – a hummingbird motif ran throughout, while the Victoria Victoria Beckham tops came in relaxed kimono-style silhouettes. One of the label's silk blouses and an embroidered bomber would flow well with a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and women’s desert boots.
A stint at the coffee shop
Appearing polished while wearing desert boots is just as effortless as putting together a laid-back ensemble, so there's no need to discount chukkas if you’re en route to that all-important breakfast meeting. The menswear catwalks were awash in a spectrum of copper shades for AW16, creating an offbeat yet elegant canvas for teaming with your navy desert boots. Canali shirts for men catch the eye, particularly in a deep autumnal tone to clash with paisley ties and boxy jackets.
The T by Alexander Wang AW17 show took a relaxed stance but showed how women’s desert boots – with a chunky stacked heel – could be worn with longline blazers, cropped black trousers and an androgynous attitude.
The 1970s offer inexhaustible inspiration for designers as the decade’s typical looks are reworked season after season – and the desert boot trend complements them all. For AW17, Stuart Vevers for Coach 1941 gave the era an Americana twist. Varsity jackets and NASA-embroidered bombers dominated his menswear show; worn with slim-leg chinos, these cover-ups would offset a pair of brown desert boots with aplomb.
A year earlier, the womenswear catwalks were in the throes of shearling. Lanvin and Preen featured oversized jackets which, when worn with denim, create a carefully considered fusion of modernity and nostalgia. Alternatively, for an artisanal take on how to wear desert boots in summer and winter, Roksanda dresses teamed with tan desert shoes and the necessary wide-brimmed hat work just as well.