RosaMorelli is a longtime proud owner and wearer of Dr. Martens boots who shares pro tips.
Docs are the comfiest, coolest, snuggest, and best boots in the world. They're designed to cherish your feet, they have cushioned soles that are tough enough to hike to the moon and back, they're virtually immortal and will outlive you, and if you're having a really bad day, nothing will cheer you up faster than a good stomp around the house in a pair of these beauties. In this article, you'll find
- A discussion about the relative comfort of Dr. Martens, when and where you can wear them, and which types are the most comfortable.
- A list of ten excellent reasons to wear Docs.
- Instructions for breaking in a new pair.
- Photo galleries full styling inspiration and what to wear with your Docs.
Are Dr. Martens Comfortable?
After you break them in, your Docs will be the most comfortable boots you'll ever wear. The hard leather will mould perfectly to the shape of your foot and you'll be able to hike for miles and miles on those air-cushioned soles . . . but this breaking-in process can be slow and painful. To avoid bodily harm, follow the instructions at the bottom of this article.
Do Dr. Martens hurt your feet?
Most people endure a few blisters at first . . . but as soon as you've broken them in, you'll forget the pain. The ones made of hard leather tend to hurt more at first (compared to the ones made of fabric or softer materials).
How long before they get comfortable?
It depends on the shoe and your foot. Some people's feet match their Docs perfectly on day one, while others have to work on it for up to a month. Again, the ones made of hard leather usually take a bit longer to break in than ones made of fabric, suede, or other materials.
Are Dr. Martens good for walking?
Docs make great walking shoes, but again, only after they've been thoroughly broken in.
Are Dr. Martens good for hiking?
Many people do wear them hiking. Their springy soles, supportive leather, and sturdy shape make them a great choice.
Are they good for traveling?
Although they take up a lot of room in your bag, if you intend to keep them on your feet most of the time, you probably won't regret packing your Dr. Martens. If they are your favorite shoes, don't hesitate to pack them. The little lost space in your luggage will be worth it!
Do they have good arch support?
Dr. Klaus Märtens designed Docs specifically for those who can't tolerate raised arches, and the springy sole accommodates most arches quite nicely. Those with flat feet or those who want a little arch support might consider wearing an over-the-counter insert. Yours will also work well with custom orthotics.
Are Dr. Martens good for your feet?
Docs were originally designed as therapeutic. Their cushy, springy, comfortable soles (trademarked as "AirWair") have always been a huge draw. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are "good for" your feet, but they're very supportive.
Which style is the most comfortable?
The most comfortable Docs are any you broke in to fit your feet exactly. If you're talking about which style is the most comfortable, the answer depends on the individual foot. Some people swear the original leather boots are the comfiest, others prefer soft leather brogues. It is recommended that you try several styles and materials and experiment with sizes before you buy.
What to Wear With Dr. Martens
Why Wear Dr. Martens Boots?
1. They're the Most Comfortable Boots You'll Ever Wear
The breaking-in period for Dr. Martens can be a long and painful process, but once you've worn them in, the leather will have moulded to the shape of your feet and you'll be able to walk for miles and miles. In fact you might start walking a lot more just so you have the chance to wear them, and you'll wonder how you ever managed to walk a single step without them. To avoid bodily harm during the breaking-in period, follow the instructions below.
2. They Last Forever
Other boots wear out. It's a fact of life that you know deep down: no matter how much you love those other boots, no matter how sturdy and well-made they are, in two or three years' time, you're going to have to replace them. The leather will split, the sole will crack, and the lining on the inside will seep out through the rotting seams and ruin everything.
Not so Dr. Martens. Your Docs will keep going long after you have shrugged off this mortal coil. These boots are strong. Unless you set them on fire (which some people have done trying to break them in, although most prefer the method outlined below,) you're going to have these boots for the rest of your life, and after you have gone, others will take up the torch . . . some lucky kid will pick them up from a charity shop and thank their lucky stars.
In fact, until recently, Docs could be registered for a lifetime guarantee. That's how confident the company is in their product.
3. You'll Learn to Love Your Feet Again
Unless you're a kid with young and inexperienced feet, chances are your feet have suffered. Calluses, blisters, corns, bunions, ingrown nails, squished toes, pain, discomfort, and general hell-on-earth (this last one is a common complaint that is unfathomably not listed on the chiropodists' association website). Nothing helps and frankly, you're beginning to loathe your feet.
Well, fear not, because your Dr. Martens will (after, and I can't stress this too strongly, the breaking-in period) make your feet beautiful again.
4. Your Feet Will Love You Back
These boots are roomy. Getting a pair of Dr. Martens is like moving into a detached house in the country with a couple of acres of orchards after living in a one-bedroom flat next to the railway tracks.
They aren't called Air Wear for nothing; the new soles will cushion your poor beleaguered heels and snuggle the balls of your feet. Your toes will have space to breathe, but feel safe, secure, and held tight, like a baby in a mother's embrace.
5. They Aren't a Fashion Statement, They're Just a Statement
Dr. Martens are built for work, not to fit in with the latest trend. They don't have goldfish swimming around in their heels and there are no tacky flickering lights or go-faster stripes. They've been co-opted over the years to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to the catwalk, but despite this atrocity, they've come through it all unscathed. Dr. Martens are working boots. They've been paired with dozens of trends and fads over the years, but they've kept their basic, no-nonsense style, a feat unmanaged by no other clothing item ever, except perhaps their own true love, denim jeans.
6. They're Never Fashionable, But Always in Style
Although they don't conform to any trend, they're always in style. They have been the boot of choice for both policemen and punks, working-class and techies, skinheads and socialists, young and old. They don't belong anywhere, and so they belong everywhere. You can wear them with a fancy dress, a suit, shorts, a bathing suit, or anything else.
People who hate Dr. Martens just don't understand them. It's their loss. Forget about the naysayers and enjoy your practical and intensely beautiful boots.
7. They're Some of the Most Well-Made Boots in the World
Klaus Märtens, a young German doctor, created the original design that went into production in 1960. He'd injured his ankle skiing and wanted to create something tough, useful, comfortable, and practical. Their bouncy soles are resistant to oil, fat, acid, petrol, and alkali. They're made of the sturdiest leather around.
They just don't go wrong. I've never had a pair that had a flaw. They are work boots— something to protect your feet and help you get from A to B in comfort—and they are engineered only for this job. They have a thick and comfy sole, a sturdy, roomy leather upper, and some laces to hold them on. That's it. What else would anyone want from footwear?
8. Breaking Them in Is a Rite of Passage
As mentioned previously, Dr. Martens boots don't suffer fools gladly, if at all. Fools have to suffer a little to earn the right to wear them. But don't worry—eventually, you will absorb their toughness by a process of osmosis (after, of course, the tortuous breaking-in period) and then, every time you look down at your boots, you'll be rewarded with the reminder of your persistence. You will grow as a person, and by eschewing inferior footwear, you will attain a peace of enjoyed only by Dr. Marten aficionados and Buddhist monks.
9. Fun Options for Laces
You can transform a basic black bog-standard pair into something befitting a Clockwork Orange costume party by getting black-and-white ribbon laces, or travel back in time to a Jesus and Mary Chain gig in Glasgow 1983 with the addition of tartan laces. Or you can go laceless and busk some Beatles songs on a battered old guitar in the city centre for the money to buy a pair.
10. Pure Love
The very best people in this fast-and-furious world love and understand Doc Martens with a quiet passion.
Which Dr. Martens Should I Get?
How to Make Your Docs More Comfortable
The unvarnished truth about these boots is that you will need to spend a little money and a lot of time breaking them in. You will not be able to just put them on and walk all day if they're straight out of the box. The reason they are so sturdy, and the reason they last forever, is that they are made of extremely tough and ungiving leather which, with time and patience, will mould to fit your foot perfectly. But until then, your feet will hurt. I think every new pair of Dr. Martens should come with bandages, very thick socks, and a bottle of baby oil.
Some people set their boots on fire to break them in. This is not the best way since so much can go wrong and these should be boots to live for, not die for. Others wrap them up in an old sheet and take a rubber mallet to them, but again, this can be foolhardy and damage them beyond all hope.
How to Break In Your Pair
- Determine where the boots are most likely to rub by wearing them to walk to the kitchen and back. They will likely hurt the top of your foot and cause blisters on your toes, heels, the sides of your foot, and even your soles.
- Get two or three packs of large blister bandages and cover those parts of your feet with these bandages.
- Put on a soft, thin pair of socks, and put on another, very thick pair of socks.
- Then take a cloth and use it to work lots of baby oil or Vaseline (petroleum jelly) into the outside of the leather. Apply it all over to soften the whole of the upper so that the creases and edges don't dig into your feet. You can also rub a little into the inside of the upper at the ankles and around the heel and Achilles tendon area, where the leather tends to rub and crease and cause blisters and pressure.
- Apply baby oil to your boots morning and night, every day, and wear the boots around the house and for short walks to the shops and back, taking them off whenever the pain gets too much . . . which will be often.
- Within a few days, it will start to get easier, but it will take several weeks of daily wear and applying baby oil to fully break them in.
Be aware that although rubbing oils (or even specialist balm) into the leather will help it to soften a little bit, it will only help so far. The only thing that really breaks in a pair of Docs is wearing them. Read How to Break In a Pair of Doc Martens Shoes for more guidance.
Should I Use Dr. Martens' Leather Softener and Protector?
If you're a bit wary of using baby oil on your new leather boots, use the official Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam instead. It comes highly recommended and may well work better and faster than my own way of doing things.
How to Style Dr. Martens
(Note: some of the benefits mentioned above may have been wildly exaggerated. For example, probably no one can walk to the moon, even in a pair of Docs. But you knew that.)
Marck g. on February 26, 2020:
Most shoes i can only wear 2 days in a row with out feet aching. I have worn my doc martens for 9 days at work and work in evening around house. Usualy cant wait to get my shoes off after long days but i find the martens comfy till bed time..
Wish i could afford another pair.
Jasmin on October 21, 2019:
I've had my pair of faux leather docs for the 4th fall and winter season now and still love them a lot!
As I am not too keen on real leather, I got the faux version and omg they are amazing. They show no sign of their age and are better than at day one as they are now like a second skin to me!
Nicola on January 28, 2019:
Got my first pair for Christmas. Has to get a size smaller than I normally wear. The 7was huge, son I got a 6 instead. Still braking them in, tips of feet are bruised from the eyelets, but leather is starting to soften and shape to my feet
Carin on December 20, 2018:
I just got my first pair delivered last night. Aimilita's! I have about 10 pair of boots, (cowboy and moto) but these are my first Doc's. Had my eye on these a while......I put them on this morning, and my feet feel happy! I can't wait to get them broke in......I LOVE THEM........why? did I wait so long? I am a 61 yr old grammie who walks about 5 mi a day..........aready shopping for my next pair ;)
Kristin on December 30, 2017:
I bought my fifth pair today and my mother, who hated my first pair and threw them out (12 holes! OMG, NOOOO) bought hers with me. Those were classic black, my second are silver and tromped all over London, my third are the Union Jacks (dedicated to the London honeymoon), my fourth are purple and today I bought the forgiving blue suede. That's what mom bought, too, so I think her breaking in period won't be so bad. I was wearing my purples when I bought these and the clerk was able to point out the foot moulding properties to her.
Fly Girl from Hollis Queens on July 25, 2017:
Been looking at the Docs for years....going to do my fashion thang....Nothing can stop me!!!!! Love the pair that has the writing on it.... the LGBT.... Not in the committee but support those that are.
David on April 22, 2017:
I just bought my first pair of Doc Martens Industrial yesterday. I waterproofed them with sprayable silicone before reading this article. Was that a good or bad idea? Thanks.
Kristen on January 25, 2017:
Looking to get the 1914s... should I get
Women's or Men's cut???? No stores carry so I have to order online.
Lizzie on December 15, 2016:
Put cotton pads on the top of my feet with a thin pair of socks over the top..done the trick! No blisters!
MarijkeSkye on September 19, 2016:
I've been wearing Doc's for 23 years and they are still the single only pair of shoes I really LOVE❤️
We all have several and some of us many shoes but when I want to feel really confident Iwear my doc's All my other shoes come off the second I get home..lol
Doc Martens Rock!!
Sephy on September 15, 2016:
Been wearing docs since I was 14, now at the grand old age of 50 I own 19 pairs - including the first pair I bought! There's no other footwear for me, tall ones in the winter, sandals in the summer, 8 holes for any occasion (including my wedding ) Safe to say that I am addicted! Excellent for knee or back injury sufferers.
Sharon on August 13, 2016:
Got my first pair last week age 55 love them,but killing my feet not giving up. Wanted a pair for years thanks dc marten.
cate mcloud on May 01, 2016:
I have had mine for 25 years still kickin it Love Doc Martens
Nickired_ on April 20, 2016:
I've had my Doc Martens since I was 13 and I'm now 33. They are all beat up and worn it but I love it they're the best and they mean even more because they're the first pair of expensive shoes my mother ever bought me and now that she's passed away they mean even more. I will never throw them out and will have them until I leave this earth.
Sharon on April 19, 2016:
I've been wearing Docs now every day for the past 18 months or so. Due to a back and neck condition is tried wearing them for work. Amazing results. No longer need an operation on my spine! I now own 21 pairs of boots and shoes. Some do need wearing in, others are OK. I love them - and the comments I get. I am a 53 year old, grey haired granny!
Shoepie35 on April 13, 2016:
I currently have 20 pair of Dr. Martens and my oldest pair are 25 years old. They are the best shoes for hiking, working, partying, and playing in. They are a huge part of my everyday life. Protect your feet and be rewarded!
Karen on January 23, 2016:
Bought two pairs now, the best thing i,ve ever done. A 12 eyelet pair and a six . Wore the 12 eyelet pair once!!! And wham the best boots ever. I suffer with bunnions and the leather was so soft it morphed to the shape of my foot!!
Beeinreal on April 03, 2015:
I just bought a pair yesterday because I have achilles tendinitis. Reading that the back can rub on the achilles area makes me a little appreshensive to wear them, but then they also have to be broken in. The good thing is I was able to wear them for 3 hours yesterday with little discomfort.
English lad on March 26, 2015:
Great article about our iconic boots .
Get your boots on and have some fun . Be sure to dress to express ! Your walking in history
Virginia on March 20, 2015:
Got my first pair last week, the victorian floral ones. I think I am lucky. The break in period has been tough on the top of my foot, but I have not had any blisters or anything. Just the top of my foot hurts. I can't wait to have them completely broken in.
Katy on December 30, 2014:
Just bought my first pair after eyeing them for the past few months. I've been wearing them everywhere to break them in. I've got mad blisters, but I will not cave.
Katy on December 30, 2014:
Just bought my first pair after eyeing them for the past few months. I've been wearing them everywhere to break them in. I've got mad blisters, but I will not cave.
Rocky on November 29, 2014:
I'm 64,and have been wearing DM's for at least 10yrs.I enjoy them their fun,comfy and DM's r sexy. B confident in urself,head up and walk in ur boots.
anonymous on May 10, 2014:
Love my vintage docs!
Extremely tough to break in!
anonymous on April 28, 2014:
I love my Dr Martens! I'm still breaking mine in, though I find wearing nice, thick socks pulled just above where the ankle of the boot ends is a good way. It stops blisters and just makes them so much more comfortable and cozy.
anonymous on December 19, 2013:
just got my 3rd pair, i love to wear them and i'm a 41 year old mother of teens and work on my feet. LOVE them!!!!
anonymous on September 26, 2013:
I only own 2 pairs right now, I just recently got to the point in my life where 150 dollar pairs of boots aren't a problem though. I broke in my first pair of Docs in on the floor at Rammstein last May, I have to say if you have to break them in, that's the way to do it. Nice and close to the stage so you can feel the heat, makes you sweat and loosens that leather right up.
Michelllle on August 30, 2013:
Love them. the tall ones. with buckles.
anonymous on June 04, 2013:
I have 11 pairs and still addicted to it. I wear it everywhere, for work or play.
anonymous on April 17, 2013:
Am still in the early stages of breaking my new pair and have learnt the hard way about the blisters. Much more breaking in to do when these heal. But I'm not giving up!
anonymous on March 22, 2013:
Own 6 pair and luv every one
lesliesinclair on February 13, 2013:
Mine are pretty spiffy.