How to Wear Doc Martens
There's a Pair of Dr. Martens for Everyone
Quick! What do you think of when I say “Doc Martens”? If you only picture the inimitable heavy-duty, lace-up, hard, black leather, kick-butt boot favored by British postal workers and punks alike, you may be surprised to discover that there are a lot more styles to choose from. There’s a DM shoe for everyone, and that’s why the brand is one of my (and the world's) all-time favorites.
My Introduction to Dr. Martens
My sister introduced me to Docs. After a foray into heavy metal in high school she veered toward punk, and well, the music was nice, but the part I really enjoyed was the accessories! As she marched in these boots to classes on U.S. soil, listening to old-school punk popularized years prior, she was amazingly cool! And I wanted to be cool, too.
But all I knew of DMs were the big black boots, and I just couldn’t see myself wearing them. What a happy day it was in 2002 when we vacationed across the pond with our parents and found ourselves at the DM store.
My sister bounced in and was fitted immediately for a new pair of boots. I was more shy, wandering and looking around. Such crazy colors and patterns! 14 eye? Purple velvet? Day-Glo leather? The Union Jack, on boots? Even the classic cherry reds seemed garish to my young and bewildered American eyes.
I was no stranger to unusual footwear. I wore platform heels and studded shoes. But at the DM store, all I could see were thick, unglamorous clunky soles with bright yellow stitching. Who did these people think they were, wearing such flashy footwear? Who would dare wear such eye-catchers? (Clearly, I had a lot to learn.)
People Actually Wear Them in the UK
Well, everyone wore them, and not just the retail workers. I still remember the exchange as I looked out the window at the London street, as nearly everyone walking by was sporting DMs of one type or another; boppers and bankers, as well as street youth and yuppie types. There had to be a style for me, despite my short stature and not particularly slender calves. I vacillated, hypnotized by the boot colors and the smell of new leather.
My mom said, “Are you sure you don’t want a pair, pussycat? London is the place to get them.”
My sister said, “They’re really comfortable, Rachie, you’ll love them!”
Then my dad said, “What about shoes instead of boots?”
And my eyes were opened as I saw a pair of simple black 1461 shoes (with three eyelets). I grabbed them, tried them on, and my feet were in heaven. I immediately perked up, picked up a confident attitude, and I've never looked back.
Thus began my love affair with Docs. I wore those shoes for years, until the bouncing, ridged soles had been worn smooth. Today I’m proud to say I’ve blazed my own way with nine pairs over the years. All were made in England except for my newest pair, which I acquired very recently. They have tiny, elegant pink and yellow flowers on black boots that can smash in a door! (They're pictured down below.)
Can You Rock the Docs?view quiz statistics
Wearing Doc Martens
A quick internet search will bring up lots of pictures of people of all shapes and sizes wearing Docs. There are lessons all over the internet about how to look cool while wearing them, and giggle-worthy images of many not quite succeeding. But, I say it's all about the attitude. So wear them however you like—laced up, open with the tongue folded back, with jeans, a miniskirt or maxi dress, or with a kilt. Yes, I said it. A kilt!
But here are some suggestions on ways to wear Docs that will flatter your shape and be more appropriate for day-to-day activity (leave your butt-kicking pursuits for after hours).
How to Wear Them With Casual Outfits
- T-Shirt and Jeans: Of course, jeans and a band t-shirt topped off with DMs are an excellent statement, showing off your taste in footwear and music alike.
- Old-School Punk: Go old-school hardcore with a CBGB or Sex Pistols t-shirt, and skinny jeans or black pants. This look works for men, women, and anyone in between. You simply can't fail with this outfit!
- Sexy Heeled Boots: Women, consider the Marcie boot (a 10-eyelet 3-inch wedge-heeled boot) with a dress, jeans, or even tailored pants. In addition to looking great, they provide you with a little more height, which is rarely a bad thing.
- Statement Colors: Don't be shy. You are wearing a brand recognized the world over. So if you're feeling those bright yellow patent ones, don't hesitate to pull them on. Be proud of your style!
How to Dress up Docs
- With a Men's Suit: 1461s with a suit? Why not? Just make sure they’re not your grungy ones. As a woman, I find a man with shined, cared-for Docs hiding under his tailored suit very attractive. I like a man who is confident in his choice of footwear.
- With a Ladies' Suit: Choose the more feminine heeled, lace-up version like the Kimora with a suit for a snappy, smart look. I may love my flat Docs, but I love my high heels, too.
- With a Skirt or Dress: Boots with a skirt can be flattering and plenty cute if you don’t try too hard. Little kids can wear just about anything and be adorable, but as an adult, choosing the right length skirt and pairing it with a floral patterned shoe or Mary Jane style Docs makes its own fashion statement. And you don’t necessarily have to color your hair with chalk or put it in pigtails, either.
For a dressier look, use black shoe polish or a Sharpie to black out the yellow stitching.
Which Is the Best Looking Doc Marten Style?
Quick Fashion Tips
- Wear 1461s or low boots if you are short or have thicker calves. It will help keep your legs from appearing even shorter.
- Wear your pants outside your boots, inside of tucked in or military style, and your legs will look a little longer thanks to the thick sole.
- Wear a more lightweight sandal once summertime hits, or try a lighter option boot material like canvas instead of leather.
Although it can take time to break in your DMs, don't give up! A well-worn shoe will be your friend forever.