The 10 Best Combat Boots to Buy in 2021 (and 5 Cool Ways to Wear Them)

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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.

10 Knee-High Boot Outfits That Won’t Look Like You’re Stuck in 2016 (Plus 2 to Skip)

best combat boots with a ruffled dress
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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.

best combat boots with a graphic t shirt
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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.

best combat boots white boots
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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.

best combat boots with sweatpants
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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.

best combat boots monochrome outfit
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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:

dr martens best 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.

blondo best combat boots

2. blondo Camila Waterproof Booties

If you’d rather not deal with complicated laces, these buckled booties have an easy-access zipper on the side that’s also been sealed against moisture meaning you can comfortably walk along in the rain without fear of soggy toes.

madden girl best combat boots

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.)

mgemi best combat boots

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.

aquatalia best combat boots
Saks Fifth Avenue

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.

by far best combat boots
Saks Fifth Avenue

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.)

wanted best combat boots

7. wanted Mission Lace-up Combat Boots

We came for the under-$100 price tag, but stayed for the intricate details, like the zipper lining the laces and an embossed snake pattern on the cuff. (Psst, they also come in black and brown, if that’s more your style.)

allsaints best combat boots

8. allsaints Brigade Boots

The double buckle at the top of the shaft provides a neat finish and hides loose lace ends for a super sleek look, that’s only aided by the patent finish on these leather boots.

stuart weitzman best combat boots

9. Stuart Weitzman Sondra Boots

This Stuart Weitzman style is more svelte than the others on this list, giving it a posh edge. A border of faux pearls also helps lend feminine flair to a typically masculine shoe. If you’re looking for the boot to pair with your fave floral frock, this is it.

tory burch best combat boots
Tory Burch

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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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...