Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The High-Low: The Differences Between Luxury and Department Store Chelsea Boots

high low chelsea boots end and
At The Manual, we see our fair share of quality clothing and craftsmanship – with prices to match. We also know that many of our readers don’t want to or can’t afford to spend that much on a given item. With that in mind, we wanted to discuss more reasonable options without sacrificing too much quality and style. This is our first in a new monthly series where we highlight a popular piece and compare two variants: A high-priced version and its lower-priced brother. This month, we’re tackling the Chelsea Boot.

The Chelsea Boot has an illustrious history. The original design was created by Queen Victoria’s boot maker, J. Sparkes-Hall, but owes a great deal to Charles Goodyear (yes, the tire man), who developed vulcanized rubber in the mid 1800s. The rubber allowed the boot to be easily slipped on and off, which is a trademark of the style.

Related Videos

The boots actually got their name in the mid-1950s from a group of West Londoners known as the “Chelsea Set,” who were seen around the neighborhood wearing these boots, originally made for paddocks and riders.

Fast forward to modern times and there are a dizzying number of options all revolving around the same premise: Rounded toes, lower heels and a dressy/casual combo in ankle length.

LAVATI Chelsea Boot
$595 LAVATI Chelsea Boot | Bordeaux

Looking at a high-end brand like LAVATI, the price difference comes in hand-stitching and hand-crafting all done in Italy. The double stitching around the elastic adds sensational durability for the part of the shoe that will see the most expansion and reduction on a regular basis. Their shoes are also made from two pieces of leather meaning less seams and more retention.

On the other hand, Aldo produces a very similar style built for mass-market stores and faster retail, with a lower cost, coming in at just under $100. In contrast to the Italian stitching, Aldo’s attempt isn’t as carefully completed around the elastic, but should hold up reasonably well over time. Aldo shoes are also made in Asia, as opposed to Europe, which isn’t necessarily a signifier of lesser quality, just lesser production cost. In addition, Aldo shoes come together out of several synthetic and leather pieces.

Aldo Frelini Chelsea Boot
Just under $100 Aldo | Frelini Chelsea Boot

In terms of fit, Aldo’s boot will run more like a dress shoe, while LAVATI’s designers build all of their shoes to feel like sneakers, offering a more comfortable fit. With the $595 price tag comes more thought into design and execution. (This is why you’ll see a gum rubber bottom on the sole of the Italian shoe as opposed to a general synthetic on the Aldo.)

Overall, the Aldo Frelini is a decent Chelsea boot. Some general gaps and misses in production quality are noticeable, but not so to the everyday consumer. If you’re looking for exceptional quality, durability and superior comfort, then it may be worth spending the money for a pair of LAVATI’s. We’re talking about your feet, after all.

The 10 best men’s lounge pants to wear all day long
Lounge around in these amazing pants — your best options
fourlaps lounge pants

As we still continue to feel the effects of a post-pandemic world, the turn to comfy-fitting clothing is one that remains consistent in everyday life. From running errands on the weekends to hitting the gym to wearing them on video calls via work from home, sweatpants, athleisure wear, or lounge pants, whatever you decide to call them, are still having their moment.

Regardless of what your feelings are at the moment regarding sweats, they definitely are going to be sticking around. The good thing is that brands and designers are making higher-quality pairs that you can dress up for the office setting, or down for a lazy, casual Sunday. So, let's take a look at the best men's lounge pants and introduce you to some of our favorites, all of which are designed with cozy comfort in mind.

Read more
The best casual watches for men (to upgrade your everyday style)
Whatever hobby you love, these timepieces can go with you to the top of the mountain or the bottom of the ocean
Nixon Spectra gold watches for men in style.

A casual watch is the kind of timepiece that pairs excellently with all your outfits -- it’s the kind of accessory that becomes so trusted that, without even thinking, you reach to put it on every morning. Most casual watches serve function over fashion. They are rugged but still stylish. Generally, an excellent casual watch’s characteristics will separate it from higher-end watches.

The first is that a casual watch typically works better as an automatic versus a mechanical -- they’re meant to take some beatings, after all. Second, they shouldn’t be considered luxury items. A snakeskin watch strap and a gaudy twenty-thousand dollar wrist weight won’t work. At the end of the day, a casual watch will serve some good looks, but it’ll mainly function as a tool for your hobbies and your off time. Here are some of the best casual watches that won’t break the bank.

Read more
Review: These men’s pajamas cost $600 — are they worth it?
Sleep in the lap of luxury with this pajama set by Paul Jays
paul jays pajamas review pxl 20230220 072532307

When you were a child, your parents likely bought you a pajama set featuring your favorite superhero or cartoon characters. As you grew older, you ditched those pajamas for boxers or sleeping in the buff. Once you've made it and established yourself as a successful man in the world, the pajama set makes its return to signal that you have arrived.

Of course, you could just buy any old kind of men's sleepwear to go under your robe while you putter around your apartment — or you could don this luxurious pajama set from Paul Jays to wear while wandering your estate, drinking coffee, and pondering your next great move to grow your empire. I tried out the Geo Print Long Set, and from the moment I put it on, my reasons for taking it off numbered zero. Here is an honest review of this luxurious set, the Porsche of men's pajamas.

Read more