In keeping with 2020’s range of practical fashion trends—sweatpants for every day, shackets with an excess of oversize of pockets, a rise in podiatrist-approved footwear—one of the biggest shoe trends of 2021 stays true to our established love of utilitarian clothing. Yes, we’re talking lace-up combat boots with anti-slip lug soles, which have already been en vogue for the past few seasons and we suspect will remain our top shoe choice all the way until summer. Here, we’ve highlighted five street style stars whose boot-centric outfits we plan to copy all year long, in addition to ten of the best combat boots you can buy right now.
The 10 Best Combat Boots to Buy in 2021 (and 5 Cool Ways to Wear Them)
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1. ruffled Midi Dress + Combat Boots
This unexpected combo is proof that opposites really do attract. We love the mash-up of airy, feminine ruffles and hefty lace-up boots, no matter the pattern or color. The key to making this pair work all comes down to the distance between the top of your boots and the hem of your dress—opt for a midi that ends between two to three inches before your boot and you’ll look long, tall and fabulously chic.
2. graphic T-shirt + Skinny Jeans + Combat Boots
Pay homage to the trend’s punk rock vibes with a loose tee—preferably a vintage style with a genuinely faded graphic or any T-shirt honoring Blondie or The Clash. Sleek skinny jeans help keep things from looking too costume-y and will help lengthen your frame. As for a jacket or outer layer? We prefer the look of a chunky cardigan, a fleece jacket or a leather moto, though just about any cropped silhouette (i.e., one that hits no lower than mid-hip) will work.
3. tailored Separates + White Combat Boots
Black combat boots will always have a rough-and-tumble vibe to them, but a white-washed pair somehow feels significantly fresher and more fashion-forward in 2021. The stark white leather balances a chunky lug sole with busy laces and grommets, allowing these boots to work nicely with posh pieces like tailored trousers, silk button-downs and simple turtleneck sweaters. Look for pants that have a slimmer fit (this is not the time for wide legs or a bootcut), with a hem that hits right at the top of your boot, to avoid chopping your legs in an awkward place.
4. shacket + Sweatpants + No Lace Combat Boots
Combine three of this year’s biggest trends—cabincore, shackets, cozy work-from-home sweats and combat boots sans laces—to form one supremely trendy outfit that’s also supremely comfortable. This look works best if your sweats have an elastic ankle that can be adjusted to hit just above the top of your boot (or just tucked into them). Remember to add a few luxe accessories, like gold hoops or a structured handbag, to keep things elevated.
5. monochrome T-shirt, Pants And Combat Boots + One Statement Piece
The most important thing is to not get intimidated by this clunky footwear. You can totally treat them as you would any other black bootie. When in doubt, however, you can always revert back to a classic “all black everything” vibe with the addition of a vibrant blue coat or a brightly-hued handbag.
Shop Our Favorite Combat Boots:
1. dr. Martens 1460 W Boots
No list of combat boots (or boots in general, for that matter) would be complete without a nod to Dr. Martens. The British footwear brand has been making these iconic lace-ups since 1960 and continues to be one of the most popular go-tos for both hardcore rockers and the fashion elite. The 1460 style is perhaps the most iconic, but we wouldn’t say no to a platform pair or one covered in flowers. Full disclosure: Dr. Martens are known for having a rather trying break-in period, so come prepared with thick socks, blister Band-Aids and maybe consider wearing them around the house for a few hours at a time before you venture out for a full day’s wear.
3. madden Girl Carra Lace-up Lug Sole Combat Boots
Canvas styles, like these from Madden Girl, are a little easier to break in than leather because of the flexibility of the fabric. (However, these also come in cream, black and burgundy leather, if you prefer a kick that won’t show dirt so clearly.)
4. m.gemi The Etta Boots
We love the quilted detail on these Italian leather booties (they remind us of yet another hot winter trend, the duvet coat), but it was the addition of contrasting dark green laces that really made our hearts sing. And convinced us to add to cart.
5. aquatalia Kaylynn Quilted Leather Combat Boots
Another quilted option, this off-white Aquatalia pair also happens to be waterproof, making them a great all-weather option. The sole will add 2.25-inches to your height, lengthening your frame without putting extra stress on your feet, as a normal heel would.
6. by Far Leo Leather Boots
These booties are halfway between a true combat boot and a hiking-inspired style. The lower shaft is particularly great for those with shorter legs, as they’re less likely to cut into your calf at an awkward place. (For extra leg-lengthening power, pair them with skinny jeans or leggings and a top that hits right at your hip.)
10. Tory Burch Miller Shearling Lug Sole Boots
For those who prefer a cozier vibe, the shearling trim on these Tory Burch booties is the perfect winter-ready touch. According to reviews, they’re also incredibly comfortable with little to no break-in period (a major bonus for our poor tired feet).
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