How to Wear Doc Martens
Do you wear DMs?
It was my sister who first introduced me to Docs. After a foray into heavy metal in high school she veered toward punk, and well… the music was nice, but the part I really enjoyed were the accessories! As she marched forward to classes on U.S. soil listening to old-school punk popularized years prior, she was amazingly cool in those boots! And I wanted to be cool, too.
Which is the best-looking Doc Marten style?
But all I knew of DMs were the big black boots, and I just couldn’t see myself wearing them. What a happy day it was when we vacationed across the pond with our parents, finding ourselves at the DM store, circa 2002. She bounced in and was fitted immediately for a new pair of boots. I was more shy, wandering around and looking, a lot. Such crazy colors and patterns of shoes! 14 eyelet? Purple velvet? Day-Glo leather? The Union Jack, on one’s boots? Even the classic cherry reds seemed garish to my young and bewildered Americanized eyes.
I was no stranger to unusual footwear, me of the platform heels and studded shoe boots. But all I could see were thick, unglamorous clunky soles with bright yellow stitching. Who did these people think they were, wearing such flashy footwear? Who would dare wear such eye-catchers? (Clearly, I had a lot to learn.)
Can you rock the Docs?
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Well, everyone wore them, and not just the retail workers. I still remember the exchange as I looked out the window at the London street, as nearly everyone walking by was sporting DMs of one type or another, boppers and bankers as well as street youth and yuppie types. There had to be a style for me, despite my short stature and not-particularly-slender calves. I vacillated, hypnotized by the boot colors and the smell of new leather.
From my mom: “Are you sure you don’t want a pair, pussycat? London is the place to get them.”
From my sister: “They’re really comfortable, Rachie, you’ll love them!”
From my dad: “What about shoes instead of boots?”
And my eyes were opened as I saw a pair of simple black 1461 shoes (with three eyelets). I grabbed them, tried them one, and my feet were in heaven. I immediately perked up and picked up a confident attitude, and I've never looked back.
I wore those shoes for years, until the bouncing, ridged soles had been worn smooth.
Thus began my love affair with Docs. Today I’m proud to say I’ve blazed my own way with 9 pairs over the years, all made in England except for my newest pair acquired very recently: tiny, elegant pink and yellow flowers... on black boots that can smash in a door!
Wearing Doc Martens
A quick internet search will bring up lots of pictures of people of all shapes and sizes wearing DMs, lessons in great quantity about how to look cool while wearing them, and giggle-worthy pictures of many not exactly succeeding. But it's all about the attitude, I say. So wear them however you like – laced, open, with the tongue folded back, with jeans, a mini-skirt or maxi-dress, or with a kilt. Yes, I said it. A kilt!
But here are some suggestions on ways to wear DMs that will flatter your shape or be more appropriate for day-to-day activity (leave your butt-kicking activities for after hours):
- 1461s with a suit. Why not? Just make sure they’re not your grungy ones. As a woman, I find a man with shined, cared-for Docs hiding under his tailored suit very attractive. I like a man who is confident in his choice of footwear.
- Ladies, choose the more feminine heeled, lace-up version like the Kimora with a suit for a snappy, smart look. I may love my low Docs, but I love my high heels, too.
- Boots with a skirt can be flattering and plenty cute if you don’t try too hard. Little kids can wear just about anything and be adorable, but as an adult, choosing the right length skirt and pairing it with a patterned shoe or Mary Jane style makes its own fashion statement. And you don’t necessarily have to color your hair with chalk or put it in pigtails, either.
- Of course, jeans and a band t-shirt topped off with DMs are a wonderful standard, showing off your taste in footwear and music alike.
- Go old-school hard core with a CBGB or Sex Pistols t-shirt and skinny jeans or black pants. This look works for men, women, and anyone in between. You simply can't fail with this outfit!
- Women, consider the Marcie boot (a 10-eyelet 3-inch wedge-heeled boot) with a dress, jeans, or even tailored pants. In addition to looking great, They will provide you with a little more height, which is rarely a bad thing.
- Don't be shy -- you are wearing something recognized the world over, so if you're feeling those bright yellow patent ones, don't hesitate to pull them on. Be proud of your style!
Improve Your DM-Wearing Experience with These Tips
- Although it can take time to break in your DMs, don't give up! A well-worn shoe will be your friend forever.
- Here's a unisex tip: If you are short or have thicker calves, think about 1461s or low boots so your legs don’t appear chopped.
- Wear your pants outside your boots inside of tucked in or military style and your legs will seem a little longer thanks to the thick sole.
- Once summertime hits, wear a more lightweight sandal or try a different boot material like canvas instead of leather.