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How To Wear Desert Boots: Fall Styles and Outfits for Men

man in denim and desert boots kicking up sand.
Avi Richards / Unsplash

There are certain style essentials we look forward to wearing each and every time the seasons change, especially as fall rolls back into town and brings with it the chance to dress with deeper textures and more rugged materials. Take desert boots, for instance. They look great in every season, sure, but there’s something about fall that makes it a great time to really nail down how to wear desert boots. The desert boot is a modern style staple for plenty of reasons, chief among them the fact that it’s both classic and modern, easy to dress up or dress down.

It’s got an enduring history, too, starting from its origins as a literal desert boot, then fashioned with a crepe sole and worn by British soldiers, and on to its current status as a favorite of celebrities and stylish guys the world over. Desert boots are now available in a wide array of colors and materials, including suede and leather, but the most classic desert boots come from the brand that started it all: Clarks, which developed its own take on the boot decades ago after coming across a style worn by soldiers in Africa. There are quite a few pairs of desert boots that look like Clarks, but when you can get the original (and when you can style it a ton of different ways), why deviate from a perfect style essential? Here are a few desert boots outfits to really get you inspired when it comes to fall style.

How to Wear Desert Boots Casually This Fall

Clarks desert boots for men.

The thing with desert boots is that they toe the line, pun intended, between dressy and casual in a way that makes a lot of sense these days. Especially in a classic and instantly recognizable shade of brown leather known as Beeswax, desert boots from Clarks become something you can wear in plenty of effortlessly cool ways. To wear desert boots casually, keep it simple and start with other classic picks, like slim blue denim and a grey long-sleeve henley. For fall, add a rugged flannel shirt. For winter (if the ground isn’t covered with a thick layer of snow), throw on a puffer jacket. And for spring and summer, look for light wash jeans and a crisp navy pocket tee.

The styling possibilities are endless with Clarks boots in particular, especially if you’re wearing a pair that only get better with age. When in doubt, wear your desert boots casually for all manner of fall-style pursuits.

How to Wear Suede Desert Boots

Suede desert boots for men.

The great thing about desert boots in this day and age is the fact that so many varieties are available out there, including suede desert boots. Suede is harder to care for than leather, requiring frequent care and brushing or cleaning with a suede brush and eraser, so suede desert boots don’t do well in wet conditions. But that being said, suede desert boots are every bit as versatile as leather desert boots. We prefer to rock them with a mix of casual and rugged in mind. Think olive chinos, a white henley, and an indigo denim jacket to grab a weekend beer or coffee.

Team the lighter sand suede with everything from navy chinos and a chambray shirt to burgundy corduroy trousers, an Oxford shirt, and a cotton cardigan. There’s almost no wrong way to wear them.

How to Wear Black Desert Boots

Black desert boots for men.

Black desert boots are somewhat harder to pull off than their more commonly found counterparts, like brown leather or suede options. Black desert boots should be styled in a similar manner to how you’d style your black moto or lace-up boots. Matching picks like slim black or grey denim are a solid, slightly edgy-but-wearable style move, and you can always reach for faded mid-blue jeans to really let those boots pop. We’re of the opinion that “rock star cool” always works, so go right ahead and throw on black jeans, a grey short-sleeve henley, and a black denim trucker jacket for a modern, sharp style.

How to Wear Brightly Colored Desert Boots

Colorful desert boots for men.

Once again, we’ve mentioned the broad array of desert boots available on the market, and in plenty of different colors. The reason desert boots, especially from Clarks, stay on-trend comes down to the fact that the design remains the same, and yet you get a vibrant shot of color to liven up almost any ensemble. That’s the case whether you go with a more rustic fall color or a vibrant color for spring and summer. So, how best to let your desert boots really shine through when you’re rocking some with bold color?

It’s simple, really. Let the boots do the talking (or the walking, as it were), and tone down your outfit accordingly (if your boots happen to be a rich rust color, use inky blue denim and a grey thermal t-shirt to keep it as laidback as possible). If you go with a more vibrant blue, then tan chinos and a crisp white t-shirt are a solid bet. The ideal here is to let those boots really shine because they deserve it.

How To Dress Up Desert Boots 

How to dress up desert boots for men.

If we’ve said it once before, we’ve said it plenty of times: Versatility is truly key in your footwear rotation, and that’s particularly true if you want to find a pair of shoes you can dress up and dress down. Enter the humble, hard-working desert boot, in either refined suede or a nicely polished and treated brown leather. The key to dressing up desert boots is to not overdo the “dressy” aspect of your ensemble. If you’re wearing a suit, make sure it’s in a softer, rougher fabric like a cotton or cotton-linen blend, or else a thicker and fall or winter-ready, textured herringbone.

Next, go with a dress shirt that’s not exactly traditional (think of a chambray dress shirt, for instance). Then either ditch the tie or wear a more casual knit tie. A prime example of how to wear Clarks shoes with a suit: Film director Wes Anderson, who frequently pairs his Clarks Wallabees with a suit. It’s a different style, sure, but it’s close enough if you want tips on dressing up desert boots.

Beau Hayhoe
Beau Hayhoe is a freelance men's style writer, consultant and PR pro based in Brooklyn. Beau's menswear and gear writing has…
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