Remember the chukka boot? That sleek, versatile icon? I’m talking about the Clarks Desert Boot, the brainchild of a soldier-turned-shoemaker who, inspired by wartime practicality, stumbled upon a timeless trend.
For me, Clarks wasn’t just a name on a box; it was the brand on the little leather shoes that clattered through my Australian school days. This wasn’t just a shopping trip; it was a pilgrimage to a footwear monument, a chance to experience the legend firsthand.
During my recent quest for the perfect chukka boot, one name kept popping up again and again – Clarks Desert Boot.
From what I gathered online, this boot seemed to have reached an almost legendary status in footwear history. But I had some reservations: Was it really as iconic as the hype suggested? Or was it one of those shoes that got popular simply because everyone else was wearing it? I had to find out for myself if Clarks was still a reputable and respected shoe brand. Why, after decades, does it still turn heads and win hearts?
Buckle up, folks, because I’m about to slip into a pair and walk you through my Clarks experience, dissecting the magic of a shoe that conquered continents and captured hearts, one crepe-soled step at a time.
What Makes the Clarks Desert Boot So
Well, now having had the chance to try the Clarks Desert Boot out, I totally understand the appeal!
The version I chose is the classic Oakwood suede style with the signature crepe sole. This is the most popular variety of the Desert Boot, and I can see why.
The soft, supple suede upper gives it a relaxed, casual vibe that just feels right for everyday wear. Pair it with jeans, shorts, even khakis for a smart casual look. The iconic crepe sole is super lightweight and comfortable, ideal for warmer weather.
While it may not be the most elegant silhouette with its simplistic, blobby shape, (my more formal friends insist the blobby shape looks better suited to an archaeologist or carpenter) that’s also part of its charm. It’s an unfussy, fuss-free boot you can just slip on and go about your day in total comfort.
Beyond the physical characteristics, the Desert Boot’s backstory and enduring popularity over 70+ years also add to its reputable status. The fact it was originally worn by British WWII soldiers gives it a cool, adventurous origin story.
And today, it remains the number one choice for a chukka boot worldwide. Clearly, this boot has staying power!
Caring for My New Desert Boots
The laidback Desert Boot may have a relaxed look, but it still requires a little TLC. This Oakwood suede is soft and supple, but prone to scuffs and stains.
I’ve already noticed a small mark near the toe that stands out against the chocolate brown. But thankfully, it’s easy enough to care for this casual suede.
All you need is a suede brush to whisk away dust and dirt. For small stains, simply use a pencil eraser to lift them. This is a common trick for suede.
But, I think it’s best to avoid oils or conditioners that could ruin the finish. This isn’t a boot that needs much moisturizing anyway and for this pair I’m happy to keep it simple with just occasional brushing.
The suede and crepe make them prone to soaking through. Definitely not a desert boot for all climates! I know some wearers do apply sprays to weatherproof them just in case. I haven’t tested that method, but it’s something to consider if you plan to wear them in rain.
A little care here and there is all it takes to keep my new favorite boots looking laidback chic.
All About the Iconic Crepe Sole
No desert boot would be complete without its signature crepe sole. Clarks’ crude, natural rubber is soft and flexible, almost like a slipper. You can really feel the ground beneath your feet.
The crepe has a cool, textured look and is praised for being lightweight and shock-absorbently comfortable.
However, it does have some drawbacks. Namely, it marks up more easily than other soles. After just one wear, I could see the exact outline of my foot on the sole! It also picks up dirt, debris, and lint very quickly. Bits of thread and fuzz cling to the crepe with every step. Since it’s so soft, it can feel slippery when wet and stiffen up in very cold temps. The crepe is also sensitive to solvents and can wear down over time.
Yet despite the high-maintenance factor, the signature Clarks’ sole is part of the desert boot’s charm. There’s a reason it’s been a staple since the 40s!
The distinctive texture and visible wear add to its broken-in, rugged look.
For a lightweight, flexible sole with vintage appeal, crepe is a classic choice. I’ll gladly accept the tradeoffs for that iconic look and cushy feel. The desert boot just wouldn’t be the same any other way!
Finding the Perfect Fit
You’ll want to go about a half size down from your regular sneaker size for the Desert Boot. I’m normally between an 11.5 and 12, so I opted for an 11 here.
Clarks uses UK sizes, so I went with a 10UK/11US in a medium (M) width. This is comparable to a D width in US sizing.
One drawback is the boot only comes in one width, which could be tricky for those needing wide or narrow sizes. Going up or down a half size is an option, but the lack of width options is limiting.
For me, the 11 felt snug at first, but the suede stretched and molded to my feet within a day’s wear. I was relieved I didn’t size up to an 11.5!
While I can’t speak to other widths, this supple suede worked fine for my medium/D feet. And the comfort is phenomenal.
The crepe sole feels like walking on air – soft and cushiony without any arch support. You can really feel the ground underfoot.
So while it’s not a sturdy work boot, it excels at laidback, slipper-like comfort. For easy, casual wear at this price point, I was very pleased with the fit.
Clarks shoes are very expensive these days, but one of the main advantages of the Clarks Desert Boot model is its wallet-friendly price.The classic Oakwood suede version I chose costs around $130 USD. That’s quite affordable for a pair of quality boots.
The price can fluctuate between $90-$130 depending on sales and color. Some varieties like the blue grey suede run slightly higher, while fabric versions are sometimes cheaper.
But in general, expect to pay around $130 for this popular suede style – a very reasonable price point!
Of course, you can pay more for upgraded versions – for around $300.
For an iconic shoe with decades of popularity behind it, this accessible price really seals the deal. The Clarks Desert Boot delivers a timeless, laidback look without breaking the bank – a win-win in my book!
Why Clarks Shoes Are a Must-Have: My Verdict
Clarks is known worldwide for high quality, comfortable shoes at reasonable prices. Models like their iconic Desert Boot exemplify the brand’s strengths.
The affordability is a major draw – you get noticeable craftsmanship without the shocking price tags of designer brands. Clarks delivers premium comfort and style for the everyday wearer.
In fact, Clarks shoes are some of the most comfortable I’ve tried. Their footwear consistently excels at cushioning and molding to your feet, making you feel like you’re walking on air.
Beyond comfort, their classic silhouettes have timeless, laidback appeal. It’s easy styling that complements casual outfits with vintage vibes. Clarks shoes always get compliments for their effortless cool factor.
They also transition seamlessly across seasons, taking you from warm weather adventures to winter wear. The wearability makes them a staple addition to your closet.
No doubt some styles show wear quicker than pricier brands. But for the reasonable cost, you get quality construction and everyday versatility.
At the end of the day, Clarks deserves its reputation as a go-to shoe brand. The comfort, style, and value make their footwear like the iconic Desert Boot must-have additions to your wardrobe lineup.