As the air gets nippy and the leaves start to change, one of the things we look forward to most is the chance to don our autumnal best. For many of us, that means pulling on a pair of tried-and-true Chelsea boots, a staple shoe in the wardrobes of countless sartorially inclined people. It’s easy to see why they’re so popular: They’re streamlined, easy to slip on and off, and have been classic since Mods made them cool in the 1960s. To find the best Chelsea boots out there, we asked stylists, fashion bloggers, and all-around stylish women for their favorites, from sleek leather ones to chunky platforms and everything in between. Below, 19 foliage-stomping pairs, as recommended by our panel of cool people.
The best classic Chelsea boots
This chunky take on the Chelsea was called out as a favorite by two of our panelists, including journalist and podcaster Pandora Sykes, who says she lives ‘in a pair of chunky-soled, patent oxblood short Chelsea boots. Next on my list are a white pair’. Freddie Harrel, the blogger turned founder of beauty company RadSwan, also loves the Dr. Martens Chelsea for its thick sole and signature yellow line. ‘This pair adds an extra badass edge to any outfit’, she says.
For something a little sleeker, consider the Flora, which features polished leather and a monochromatic look. It’s one of Coveteur senior beauty editor Hannah Baxter’s favorite boots (she owns multiple Docs).
Eva Lee, content operations manager at Refinery29, loves these flat Chelsea boots for their versatility. ‘You can wear them with anything: cropped jeans, trousers, or with tights under a skirt’, she says. She cites the shape of the toe and the shaft height as making them ‘the perfect middle ground between casual but still feminine’.
‘I love Blundstone boots because they’re utilitarian and can withstand heavy city walking while still looking feminine’, says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of salon Tenoverten. She prefers this more streamlined style over the Australian brand’s popular work boot.
‘Tod’s Leather Chelsea boot is the everything boot’, says Maisonette co-founder Sylvana Ward-Durrett. She says it works equally well with jeans or with tights and a dress. We like the low heel on this guy and the elastic side panel that’s shaped like a T.
Here’s a daintier glossy boot with a pointed toe, recommended by Maisonette’s other co-founder, Luisana Mendoza de Roccia. She calls the classic style ‘“both elegant and functional.’ And the tiny Prada logo embossed in white is a just subtle enough way to flex your taste.
A few of our cool women say the best Chelsea boots aren’t only found in the women’s shoe section. Brooklyn-based fashion blogger and stylist Allison Graham, who shows off her European menswear-inspired style on her blog She Does Him, told us she likes these men’s Chelsea boots by Saint Laurent in a tan suede. ‘I’ve always been a huge fan of Saint Laurent’s Chelsea boots, as I’m very big on quality and colors’. Baxter agrees, saying that although the Wyatt boots are for men, ‘there’s no reason why you can’t snag your size and look just as cool as the boys’. She calls them ‘the quintessential rock-and-roll Chelsea boot’, and we don’t disagree.
Best Chelsea boots with a lift
Platform Chelsea boots seem to be the trend to try this autumn, and these from Dr. Martens — arguably the favorite brand among our experts for always cool, never-go-wrong Chelseas — are one of your best bets this season. Man Repeller’s market and affiliate strategist Elizabeth Tamkin already owns a pair of patent leather Docs, but told us she’s hoping to upgrade to this elevated pair for the many wet days ahead.
High-gloss leather and a thick lug sole give these a tough, combat-boot-like look. Stylist Lindsey Shores say they’re attention-grabbing, comfortable, and great for winter, thanks to their substantial rubber sole.
Best brogue-style Chelsea boots
For a twist on the traditionally unadorned Chelsea boots, fashion stylist and blogger Alex Stedman suggests these British-made, brogue-style Chelsea boots that she’s had ‘for years’ and calls her ‘all-time favorites’. She adds that ‘they’re such a classic pair, and they’ll definitely come into their own again’ now that autumn has returned.
Tamkin also told us she looks to the boys for her Chelsea boots. ‘I love men’s footwear’, she says. ‘Something about the toe, the details, and the width is always more pleasing to me’. Her favorite is a brogue-style pair from British heritage brand Grenson, which started with men’s boots and has since released this version for women. Tamkin calls them ‘the most perfect brogue Chelsea boot’ and imagines that they would look smart worn ‘with a wool suit or perhaps a perfect plaid trouser’.
Freelance fashion writer Alyssa Coscarelli also has her eye on a brogue style — in particular, this elevated pair from Burberry. She says the ‘brogue-boot hybrid’ is everything she wants in a shoe for the autumn: ‘Funky, platformed, goes with everything.’
Best statement Chelsea boots
For a Chelsea boot with some preppy flair, might we suggest Stuart Weitzman’s take, which comes recommended by Liza Bychkov-Suloti, an on-air style expert and partner at integrated marketing and PR agency SHADOW. When choosing a Chelsea boot, she looks for a pair that has a narrow toe and an ‘edgy heel’. Bychkov-Suloti adds that she loves the faux-pearl trim on these, which give them a feminine touch.
Best old Celine–style Chelsea boots
According to Tamkin, past season Celine Chelsea boots are the platonic ideal of the style. But if you can’t find any on Vestiare Collective, she says these from Labucq will do. She loves the chunky tread sole of this particular pair, and recommends offsetting the bulk with ‘a girly tea-length dress’. [Editor’s note: This price does not include shipping fees.]
Art director Madelynn Furlong also thinks the very best Chelsea boots are old Celine. The closest dupe she’s found for that elusive pair’s chunky heel and smooth leather is this style from British heritage brand Church’s.
Best white Chelsea boots
For those undeterred by treating the occasional scuff, white Chelsea boots are another way to stand out among a sea of darker-leather styles. Tamkin loves this pair from Rag & Bone, a brand she says ‘has forever been New York City women’s go-to Chelsea boots’. She loves these because ‘the style is very different from what I associate with Rag & Bone boots, and I adore the elegant stitching on these combat Chelsea boots’.
Photographer and graphic designer Shini Park of Park and Cube likes these square-toed socklike boots from By Far: ‘These ankle boots are the perfect winter whites’. When we asked her how she wears them, she told us to ‘pair with classic jeans or with a skirt’, and that they have a ‘great heel height for stomping around, too’.
A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist US.
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