Editor’s note: To learn more about great gear to buy for spring, click here.
As soon as the calendar really gets rolling into spring, there are certain items I’m anxious to shelve — and certain items that I’m ready to keep on wearing (or at least, wear more). One of those such items is the versatile suede chukka — it’s arguably a three-season shoe, well-suited to the colder temperatures of fall but providing some nice textural difference from shiny leather shoes during the sunnier days of spring and summer. When it gets snowy is when it’s tough to put ’em away — but now that those days are (hopefully) long gone, it’s time to break ’em out more. So that’s what we’re getting into here. The texture isn’t the only great thing about a suede chukka — the ankle cut of a classic chukka boot makes it the perfect go-between from, say, a lightweight, low-cut sneaker and a thicker winter boot — that means they’re ideal to style with everything from slim stone chinos to some rolled lightwash denim. They come in both casual and slightly more formal iterations, too. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Peep the full set of picks below, and let me know on Facebook if you think I missed any key brands.
#1. Thursday Boots Honey Suede Scout Chukka Boot — $149
Finding a well-made, reliable chukka (especially in a rich shade of honey suede) is a somewhat tricky endeavor, but Thursday Boots delivers again with its durable Scout Chukka. This writer has a pair of the Scout Chukkas in Chocolate Suede, and if the quality is anything like those, the Honey Suede version should hold up handsomely. The slightly higher-than-normal ankle cut is a continental touch, the studded rubber sole is tough on the ground yet comfortable on your feet, and in this instance, the honey suede is a colorful hue that’ll look great with slim white denim now and even better under dark raw denim come fall.
#2. J. Crew Classic MacAlister Boots in Stone — $148
For Thursday Boots taking the cake with its $149 chukka, J. Crew’s MacAlister Boot in Stone comes in a close second — at a very slightly cheaper price (ha!). This is certainly the more casual of the two boots, as this number has all the makings of a traditional desert boot (different from a versatile leather chukka). That goes for the traditional crepe rubber sole and continues on through the raised contrast stitching between the sole and the upper. This boot is still made in Italy, and it should certainly pack in all the quality one would expect from a pair of J. Crew footwear. For weekend brunches and coffee runs (or a casual Friday), this is your go-to boot.
#3. Clarks Desert Boot in Wolf Suede — $130
One would be remiss to talk about desert boots or chukkas and not give a look toward Clarks, the originator of the style (for the general public, at least). The Wolf Suede Desert Boot takes the iconic Clarks silhouette and does it up in a beige suede that should make these another reliable, casual footwear option for a ton of situations — be it a fall coffee date (paired perhaps with a shawl-collar cardigan and denim?) or a spring weekday with a slim polo and chinos. Plus, the price and quality are both very hard to top among like-minded brands.
#4. Oak Street Bootmakers Chocolate Suede Campus Chukka — $426
Think a darker suede can’t be worn in the warmer months? Think again, my friend. If you’re on the hunt for a pair of chukkas that are worth the investment and the styling potential, the Chocolate Suede Campus Chukka from Oak Street Bootmakers is the chukka for you. It’s crafted in America with beastly construction, from the Goodyear welt to the waterproof suede (really), and the oiled leather soles. The color is rich and beautiful, equally fit for pairing with slim tan chinos now and your toughest pair of dark denim later this year.
#5. Astorflex Greenflex Chukka in Stone — $145
For the last entry on this list, we turn to a boot that combines all the inspiration of the classic desert boot with some seriously eco-friendly construction (be warned that it’s only available in sizes 9-12 right now, though). Yes, Astorflex certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to combining quality, style and sustainability. This pair is made in Italy, yet rings up (or rather, charges your card) for an incredibly low price. The memory foam footbed should be comfortable, and the organically treated leather is processed slowly for more than a month, resulting in a pair of footwear that you can also feel good about buying.
So, picking up a new pair of footwear to add to your rotation doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming process. Starting by looking for quality materials and versatile style potential is going to take you much further than settling for something less expensive — in that case, Florsheim’s Constable Chukka was also close to making the cut. If you’re uncertain about how to style a suede chukka, rest assured that it does just as well as a sharp leather chukka when paired with like-minded outfits — whether that’s a slim T-shirt and denim or a polo and lightwash jeans. If you play your cards right (and the weather holds out), it’s a style that could be in your rotation ’til fall.
Do you have a pair of suede chukkas in your closet? Which of the above pairs would you pick up for this spring?