Chelsea boots are the perfect transitional boot – from Autumn to Winter, Winter to Spring, day to night. They’re also fantastically versatile, easy to dress up or down and, now, available as a barefoot option thanks to The Drifter Leather.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since shifting to barefoot shoes, it’s that finding a good fitting pair is a very individual thing. So when a company offers customisation at no extra cost that, to me, is a very big deal.
As every shoe is handmade and all parts hand cut, The Drifter Leather are able to make pairs to fit your individual preference – whether you have high or low arches, narrow or wide heels or even differences in length or width between your feet.
Therefore, I felt it would be mad not to go for a custom made pair, and, as I was keen to have a toe box that would allow my toes more room, I made sure to spread my toes when drawing around the outline of my feet to send my measurements to The Drifter Leather team.
This does mean that my Chelsea Boots do have the look of a wider toe box than the standard style but it’s really down to personal preference – whether you want the look of a narrower fit or the space for your toes.
Another huge benefit of being able to order a custom pair is that it lessens the need for sending returns, which is one of my pet hates when having to buy shoes online. I would recommend taking the time to read The Drifter Leather’s sizing and custom fit guide before ordering a pair. I provided length and width measurements as well as provided an outline of my feet (with toes spread) and am very happy to report that my boots were a perfect fit.
EDIT 26.01.17: Thanks to Melissa and Cara (see comments below) for these two tips:
I have pretty much worn my Chelsea Boots every day since I got them in September. I just find them so easy to wear with my skinny jeans and a chunky knit that I’ve pretty much lived in them for the last few months.
There really are just endless ways to wear them, with tapered trousers, skinny jeans, a little black dress, thick tights, woolly ruched socks, bare legs…
One thing I would say is that as I’ve gone for a wider toe box to allow for maximum toe spread, I do feel that they would look ‘dressier’ if they were a narrower fit.
If you feel like going for something other than a plain black, then The Drifter Leather offer a range of matte and patent options with about 20 different colour choices. If I had a second pair I think I’d go for an autumnal colour – such as a chestnut brown, which I love paired with blue denim, or maybe even a light grey.
If you do have a particular colour / leather combination in mind, it’s worth getting in touch with The Drifter Leather team as they will often be able to customise this for you (in addition to the fit, size, etc.) and again, this usually won’t cost anything extra.
The Chelsea Boot soles are hand-cut from either 6mm or 4mm Vibram rubber sheets. I decided to go with the slightly thicker 6mm option, as although you don’t get quite as much ground feel, it does provide a little bit more insulation from the cold pavement.
It’s worth noting that as the rubber covers the whole sole, they are attached via piping around the edge of boot and does mean that the boots can appear slightly wider than they actually are as this piping adds about 3mm around the edge. I quite like the look of this but if you’re after more of a narrower style then just bear this in mind.
Another design choice I made was the texture of the leather upper. As mentioned above, there are wide range of colours available but you also have a choice between a matte ‘pebbled’ style, patent and suede upper.
I went for the matte as it tends to easily adapt to the shape of the foot without the appearance of looking ‘worn in’ and I can certainly vouch for this with my pair. To keep the leather in good shape I occasionally protect them with natural beeswax that means I don’t have to worry if it’s wet out.
Due to the customisation possibilities that The Drifter Leather offer, the below ratings can vary depending on your individual pair (e.g. on how wide a toe box you go for). Therefore, the ratings here are specific to my pair, but I’ve made some notes on how this could change and how you can get a more or less minimal fit depending on your preferences.
HEEL – 5/5 for a zero drop and zero arch support
SOLE – 3/5 with the 6mm rubber Vibram but likely closer to 4/5 with the 4mm option. The 6mm are still incredibly flexible but as there are several millimetres between the sole of your foot and the floor you don’t get the most ground feel. However, for an autumn/winter/spring style I feel that a bit of a thicker sole is welcome just to add a bit of warmth, especially as I do a lot of pavement pounding in these.
TOE – 5/5 with a customised toe box to allow for maximum toe spread, but this could vary a lot if you go for a narrower fit.
UPPER – 5/5 although they’re non-adjustable (e.g. don’t have laces you can tighten), the elasticated sides allow for a close fit so I don’t feel that I slip in them at all, or have any desire to grip my toes as I’m walking.
I have to admit that I still have a pair of 2” heeled Chelsea Boots sat in my wardrobe gathering dust (that would probably score 0/5 against all barefoot profile ratings). I just couldn’t bring myself to give them away when I transitioned to barefoot shoes as was worried I wouldn’t find a stylish barefoot alternative.
That was, until I got my hands on these.
If you’re looking for a boot that is super easy to wear, can be easily dressed up (or down) and you know isn’t going out of fashion anytime soon then I would highly recommend giving these a try.
Thanks to The Drifter Leather for providing a pair of Chelsea Boots for this review