How To Wear Combat Boots

Although combat boots have been around for a long time, the process of styling them is always evolving. The one thing you can count on is this: these boots ask you to come out of your comfort zone a little bit and play with your style more. 

The neat thing about combat shoes is that they’re versatile enough to wear with almost everything and pretty much anywhere. But the overwhelming number of style variations can cause you to avoid them altogether and simply not wear them at all!

You might also not be used to heftier footwear or you may feel like you don’t have anything in your wardrobe that will accommodate shoes that are this bold. While combat boots might be a bit tricky to incorporate in your wardrobe or get used to, they’re one of those staple pieces that allow you to really make them your own.

This guide will outline and explore the process of choosing combat boots and suggest a few outfits you can wear with them. The spotlight will be on these three styles: 

  1. Classic
  2. Streetwear 
  3. Vintage

Get ready to embrace the idea that you can pull off combat boots with ease (if you ever feel like it).

What is a Combat Boot?

Combat boots are utilitarian shoes, often heavy, and designed to last a long time and weather any storm. They’re definitely meant to endure tough conditions, which explains why soldiers wear them (in one form) as part of their essential military attire.

You don’t have to be in the military to own a pair though. Combat boots have been widely popularized and embraced by the fashion community for decades and come in different forms. So much so that it seems like combat shoes will be celebrated for many more decades ahead!

In this post, we’ll check out a few style ideas to give you some fashion inspiration. And we’ll explore ways you can pair combat boots with other attire, or get into the combat boot game altogether.

History of Combat Boots

In the ’80s, the apparel industry started seeing a rise in demand outside the military for combat boots, as they became incredibly popular among the American youth. The boots won over the goth, punk, and industrial kids, who made them mainstream. 

By the late 80s, the famous Dr. Martens (or Docs) became the most popular shoe among punk and alternative musicians, as well as street-style aficionados. Later, in the 90s, combat shoes were a huge part of the grunge scene.

Today, the combat shoe still emulates the counterculture and anti-establishment vibe, but the ultimate combat boots outfit is the one you make up for yourself. Nowadays, combat boots attract a much wider range of fans, especially those who like to thrift. 

When to Wear Combat Boots

While it might seem more practical to wear combat boots in colder weather, it wouldn’t be odd to put together a combat boots outfit in spring or summer, depending on how you go about your day. 

Combat boots are great to wear on muddy festival fields or maybe at a job that requires a sturdier shoe. So pretty much anything goes and you can wear these boots almost anywhere (except for maybe at an office job). 

How to Wear Combat Boots

How to wear combat boots becomes less of a burning concern when you know that you have the choice to dress them up or down. The combat boot outfit can be both simple and grand! Combat boots go best with tech wear, but dressier fits aren’t exempt. So pairing combat boots with dress attire isn’t out of the question. 

Baddie outfits with combat boots seem to be all the rage right now. This makes sense because these boots really go well with the ‘baddie’ vibe. So, if this style appeals to you, we say go for it!

Combat boots tend to pair well with other staple accessories, depending on how maximalist or minimalist you want to keep your combat boots outfit. If you’re big on bags, you can easily match your totes and purses with your combat shoes. 

10 Outfit Ideas With Combat Boots

When thinking about how to wear combat boots, the number one outfit idea is to wear them with socks—yes, we need to talk about socks! 

Picking the right socks to pair up with your combat shoes can really spruce up your outfit. Ankle or knee-high, these types of socks work best for creating an edgier look: 

  • Fishnets 
  • Seamed
  • Crew socks

Any of these three types create a look that’s pretty clean and simple too, which keeps the rest of the outfit quite low-key. Also, you can wear it almost wherever you go, even if just to run errands. 

It might be a little unconventional, but combat boots and bike shorts make a magic combo. You can also add sheer tights if you want to try this look on colder days. It’s definitely a going-out outfit, so you can wear it to brunch or dinner. 

This particular ensemble features a pair of fuchsia biker shorts and an oversized, gray blazer. And you’ll notice how the combat shoes still stand out here, even with the other two eye-catching garments. 

This look is quite reminiscent of the 90s era. How to wear combat shoes with a mini skirt is a playful challenge because there are many ways to go about it. This is an outfit you could easily wear to your friend’s gig, a house party, and maybe even on a first date. 

The key to this look is choosing the right skirt. Denim goes so well! You can keep your outfit pretty basic and low-key, and add on other accessories if you’d like, such as a bag to match. 

Combat boots worn with a suit–you might not think this is a good idea, but hear me out first! This combat shoes outfit is a great example of making an otherwise somber look a bit more daring (just like Blake Lively does here). 

This allows you to venture into the combat boots arena full force. And, as a bonus, you can even wear your outfit to a big presentation or a work function.  

Similar to the mini-skirt look, combat boots with a mini dress, preferably a checkered one, give you those supermodel powers. This fit favors warmer seasons but paired up with tights or leg warmers, it would make a great look for the holiday season. 

Speaking of the combat boot versatility, you could also purchase a pair of thigh-high boots to go with all of your dresses (as seen here). 

Technical fits, like utility or cargo pants, go quite well with combat boots. This look might seem pretty practical and mundane, but it’s great if you’re aiming for something simple and timeless. This is a pretty classic example of how to synchronize tech wear and combat boots. 

 If you ever wanted to know how to wear combat boots with jeans, color coordination is key to getting started. One of the most iconic combat boot outfit combos is simple black jeans coupled with black combat boots. 

Earth tones can work quite neatly here as well, whether you choose to keep the look monochrome or rock contrasting hues. If you ever wondered how to wear combat boots in different colors and how well they’ll pan out, you can give these tones a try. 

The puffer jacket and combat boots look is another nod to the 90s. Combat boots go very well with the puffer jacket, and it’s an easy look to style. 

That’s because you can pretty much wear a simple T-shirt and jeans, and complete your outfit with a puffer jacket and combat boots in the same shade or just simple black. You’ll be comfy while looking chic! 

An oversized graphic T-shirt with combat boots is an outfit that brings us back to the ’80s. This very casual look can be paired up with biker shorts or a mini-skirt too for a quintessential summer outfit. You also have the option to add jeans and a leather jacket on top and there’s your combat boots outfit for the fall. 

How to wear combat boots with other accessories might seem pretty straightforward and it most definitely is. Cross-body bags pair well with combat shoes because they have a bit of a utilitarian vibe too, but they’re also just super bold and exciting to wear. 

If you’re worried about how to wear combat boots with accessories other than a cross-body bag, keep in mind that you can always experiment with other designs as well. Add a mini leather purse to your outfit to create a great medium between classic and streetwear styles. 

What Type of Combat Boots Can You Get?

Choosing the combat boot that feels best and looks good on you is the main piece of info to remember! 

There are a couple of different types of combat boots you can find. The most popular ones are sold by Dr. Martens. But, besides Docs, you can choose to get the chunkier soles or even a high heel. 

Here are a few other features to consider when purchasing combat boots:

  • Some combat shoes fit slimmer around the ankles, while the low tops are a bit bulkier. 
  • Many are water-resistant which, of course, is great for rainy or snowy conditions. 
  • Many of these boots also come with fur lining to keep your feet warm during chilly winter. 
  • Lots of them come with laces and some are even slip-ons. 

How to Choose The Best Combat Boots

Black boots are the most commonly worn, but not the only option in the slightest! Considering different colors can make shopping for the right combat boots that much more enjoyable, especially if you already have lots of black footwear. White and earthy shades are popular options as well. 

As you look to invest in footwear that you’ll keep for a long time, the classic leather combat boots should be your first pair (new or thrifted). For your second pair, you could explore other options that might be a bit more experimental, such as nylon. 

How to Style Combat Boots

Combat shoes really are flexible footwear. You can pull together garments from so many contrasting styles, add interesting accessories, and create a unique, stylish look. Since combat boots have roots in the punk scene, the style rules are left in the hands of the shopper.

Combat boots work well for almost everyone’s style and personal aesthetic, including maximalists, minimalists, as well as anyone in-between. 

For a maximalist look, you can pair them with oversized skirts and coats. Otherwise, if you prefer the minimalist look, you can always style them with skinny jeans and a leather or denim jacket. 

You also don’t have to go on a long search, or even spend too much money, to style combat boots. For instance, you can play around with laces to add a pop of contrast or color. Or just leave them as is, and they’ll still look great. 

A lot of shoppers wonder how to wear combat boots that aren’t black. White combat boots are a great alternative, although they could be even more intimidating because of how much they can stand out.

But the type of attention that they draw to your feet isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it’s all eyes on you! This is actually great because it allows you to go all out with your combat shoes. 

It might be pushing it a little, and it may be slightly outside of your comfort zone, but white jeans with white combat shoes is another option. Maybe this is a new look you’d like to try out this season and, luckily, it’s already a winning one. 

If you’d like to stick to wearing black combat boots, style them with black pants, add a button-up shirt for a polished look, and wear this outfit at your big work meeting. You can then swap the pants for a mini skirt and now you have a date-night look. This type of freedom to match or mismatch various styles makes the combat shoe so appealing. 

Fashion Tips to Avoid With Combat Boots

Choose the socks you wear with your combat boots wisely, especially if you’re trying to break them in. Thinner socks might cause discomfort, so adding silicone foot protectors might be a good idea.

This is also a great way to avoid buying thicker winter socks since they’re not as compatible with combat shoes and can fit awkwardly around your ankles. 

Tuck your wide pant legs into your combat boots at your own discretion. For some reason, tucking flared pants into your boots feels like you’re taking style advice from a young child or Shia LaBeouf. Unless this is the look you’re going for, in which case, keep tucking in the pants! 

How To Take Care Of Combat Boots

Since most combat boots are made out of leather, taking care of them is pretty straightforward. Basically, you care for them the same way you do other leather shoes. Investing in a quality shoe polish is a good start. 

Thrifted combat shoes tend to be a bit worn out (although it really depends on the shoe), so you can use warm water and soap to gently clean out all the crevices. This is a gentle way to wash and maintain these shoes.

The Doc Martens (or any leather shoe for that matter) will develop patina over time, so shining them regularly is essential. This is the care leather shoes require so they stay in great condition. 

Best Places to Buy Combat Boots

Thrift stores can be your go-to for a good pair of vintage combat boots. If you don’t feel like venturing outside of your house though, you can always browse Depop for rare finds. 

A great number of retailers carry combat boots as well. Due to their popularity, the Doc Martens could be the first combat boots you check out. They have such a great variety of styles nowadays, too, which makes finding a pair that suits you so much easier. They might seem a bit pricey though, but worth it if you’ve been waiting to get a pair for some time now. 

If you’re looking for a non-traditional combat shoe (so basically anything other than Docs), check out Nike, Coach, Ted Baker, or Steve Madden. Any of these brands offer a pretty great selection of these boots at pretty accessible prices. 

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered so much ground in this post, but it feels like we could keep going on even more. That’s because how to wear combat boots is not a simple matter to break down. It’s definitely an entertaining topic to explore because there are so many really cool and stylish looks featuring these boots. 

As we’ve stated, combat shoes are very flexible footwear. So, when deciding how to wear combat boots, you have many options. This means you can wear them every day or just occasionally—it’s totally up to you.

Either way, combat boots can bring an entire outfit together, so it’s a good idea to figure out which shoes work best with each look. 

There’s always the option to go for the classic style, like Docs. You’ll have fun styling them, and you won’t have to look outside your own closet to create your outfits. You can pair these boots with the clothes you’ve already got and add accessories that work well for you. 

The footwear game is constantly changing, and new styles are coming out all the time. So, if you’d ever like to experiment with new, trendy looks, you could try out emerging styles that might feel a bit unusual at first. 

For example, you can incorporate combat shoes into athleisure with a Nike combat shoe. It might feel like you’re abandoning your own style a little bit here but think of it as venturing outside of your comfort zone which, again, is the fun part of wearing combat boots. 

Whichever route you go, make sure you take time to get used to your combat boots and break them in. Also, it’s a good idea to purchase lots of socks to keep your feet ultra-comfy.

Have any other burning fashion questions on your mind? We’ve got you covered:

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