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Secrets of military dress shoes!

Updated on May 27, 2010

Military Oxford Shoes

This is the dominant military shoe style - the oxford. It has been around since the 1960s
This is the dominant military shoe style - the oxford. It has been around since the 1960s

Military shoes vs Military boots

Contrary to the popular belief, military is not all mud and boots. While all branches of the military use assault boots (these must be 8 inches tall of roughed leather), the predominant form of military shoes is the dress Oxford shoes, subject to numerous regulations.

Military has strict regulations regarding the uniforms worn, and shoes are a big part of that uniform. All military oxfords are black, plain and have at least 3 eyelets. No buckles or prominent zippers are required. White oxfords may be allowed with some navy uniforms and the hospital duty uniform.

While many companies produce oxfords, the 2 companies with the widest selection are Bates and Capps


These are not shoes!

These are not military shoes! This is a pair of Bates M9 Desert Assault boots!
These are not military shoes! This is a pair of Bates M9 Desert Assault boots!

The military spit-shine

Notice how glossy the shoes above are. There are 2 ways to achieve this kind of shine. One, the "cheating" method is by purchasing a high gloss Corofram or Clarino upper shoe. The other way is by learning the military shoe spit-shine polishing technique.

The technique is called spit-shine, because it can be done by spitting on the polishing cloth in the field. For regular polishing, room temperature water is used. 

The technique is as follows:

  • Get hard shoe polish (kiwi) and a glass of room temperature water
  • Get a 5in x 5 in piece of cotton cloth and wrap it around your finger.
  • Dip the finger in the water
  • Now get some polish on the wet cloth. The wet cloth prevents the polish from getting in the cloth and will allow you to rub it in the shoes.
  • Using small 1/2 inch circles, polish every bit of your shoe. 
  • After 3-4 passes, dip the finger back in water
  • When the shoe is shined, wipe it with the wet cloth.
  • Let water roll off and evaporate.
Shining your shoes this way will take a long time, but teaches patience and persistence, something that is slowly disappearing from the high speed modern world!



Chukka riding boot (ankle high shoe)

Chukka boot is another type of shoe used by the military
Chukka boot is another type of shoe used by the military

Chukka military shoes

On top of oxfords, US Army soldiers may also wear chukka riding boots with a less than 2 inch heel, as long as they are plain and has no straps or buckles.

The 2 major manufacturers of Chukka boots for the US military are Capps and Bates

Source: Army Regulation 670-1

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