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Workboots, how should they be worn?

I like to wear my workboots...

  • as beat up as possible

    Votes: 4 8.0%
  • well worn

    Votes: 33 66.0%
  • like I wear my dressshoes, polished to a high shine

    Votes: 13 26.0%

  • Total voters
    50

Marc mndt

I'll Lock Up
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6,709
I was browsing Instagram and I noticed that a lot of guys are showing off their expensive handmade workboots... in pristine condition. With a high shine like they just left the factory.

03B42202-0DBC-4581-AF9E-81EC0E87CDF5.jpeg


Non of my workboots look like that. Actually, I think workboots look best when they're well worn. Because that's what they're made for, right? Tough materials and robust construction techniques were used in order for the boots to be able to withstand any kind of abuse.

On the other hand, these fancy handmade workboots cost a pretty penny and therefore it makes sense to baby them, keeping them in the best possible condition.

Maybe it's silly altogether to judge $1k+ boots by workboot standards, because let's be honest how many of us actually wear them as they were originally intended? I certainly don't ride a horse and I don't own a motorcycle. Maybe we should rather see these boots as dress shoes that can be worn to the office. Treating them accordingly by giving them a spit shine, baby them and make sure they don't get scratched.

How do you guys like to wear your work boots?
 

Will Zach

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4,372
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SoFlo
I am probably more qualified to talk about flip flops than workboots these days, but for me ideal workboots are like an old leather jacket with patina or denim fades - top black layer gone from the rolls revealing brown leather underneath. Like the original "teacore" effect on old jackets before teacore was a thing. I would keep them polished though, not beat up. I would use a colorless shoe polish to keep them in shape.
 

58panheadfan

One Too Many
Messages
1,515
Location
Switzerland
I wear my work boots in a well-maintained, cleaned and polished condition. That has less to do with the fact that these boots doesn't look good beaten up. It has more to do with my upbringing: the well-groomed gentleman get judged by his shoes. So for me, caring for my boots also means a certain amount of respect and recognition for the maker.

Btw.: I would do the same thing if I wore the boots to work (e.g. construction). Maybe not as intensively as when I do my office job, but I would still look after them.

Here is a row of some of my boots in regularly rotation:

IMG_4353.jpeg


Here are my RMC Bucos +10yrs vs 2yrs a patinated boot doesn’t have to look dirty for a nice appearance:

IMG_4358.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Messages
10,950
Location
SoCal
I agree, unless you wear them daily for construction, I try to take care of mine by brushing and cleaning them. I like some creases and wear, but I also use them for office appointments. I don’t polish them, but I do use mink oil or Blackrock to keep a luster and mellow out scuffs.
 
Last edited:

Marc mndt

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Messages
6,709
I wear my work boots in a well-maintained, cleaned and polished condition. That has less to do with the fact that these boots doesn't look good beaten up. It has more to do with my upbringing: the well-groomed gentleman get judged by his shoes. So for me, caring for my boots also means a certain amount of respect and recognition for the maker.

Btw.: I would do the same thing if I wore the boots to work (e.g. construction). Maybe not as intensively as when I do my office job, but I would still look after them.

Here is a row of some of my boots in regularly rotation:

View attachment 551492

Here are my RMC Bucos +10yrs vs 2yrs a patinated boot doesn’t have to look dirty for a nice appearance:

View attachment 551493
I love the look of those brown buco engineers. Did they start out black or brown?
 

58panheadfan

One Too Many
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1,515
Location
Switzerland
Wow, that's insane. My teacore Attractions started out black as well, and one year later they're still predominantly black. :) They looked really dull really fast though so I actually have polished this pair once, using clear beeswax. View attachment 551495 View attachment 551496
RMC Bucos fade really fast and it looks more "dramatically" in direct sunlight then it actual is.
 
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Jasonissm

Practically Family
Messages
524
I kinda run the gamut on this question. I have both workboots that are fit for purpose Wesco Hendriks, those I don't care I just chuck on, very little thought goes into maintenance and I don't baby them at all. Same deal also goes for my Sagara Lace to Toe boots, I feel those match with being beat up and abused, at least that's the personal feeling I get while wearing them.

And also I have "work boot" styled boots that kind of straddle the line between work boot and dressier sort of feel. Those I shine, or I baby them, but eventually, they all become worn in and that initial feeling of needing to baby them fades away.

Here's an example of my Jack White Bros / White Kloud, I felt like I needed to baby these, at least for a little while because of how precise and well made they are. As they stand they are still far and away the most well made boots in my collection.

Brand New:
20221102_181056.jpg

Still in babying phase, trying out shine (approx 2 months in):
20230101_170138.jpg

6 months in, didn't bother reshining them, but still not anywhere close to beat up:
20230403_124422.jpg


After 1 month Japan trip, seen lots of rain, daily wear, most amount of wear it's ever gotten in a short period
20230605_191612.jpg

In that one month in Japan, they have picked up so much character and look the part as work boots now. I'm a white collar worker so they don't see much wear other than walking, occasional light hiking and walking around trails. I still really like where they started off with the shine and looking all prim and proper, but I also like where they are now.

And here are my thick, tanky work boots where I don't feel like I need to baby them at all, I can do whatever in them and I don't think they'll be off any worse:

20220502_131416.jpg 20220909_174425.jpg

Funnily, the Wesco Hendrik is my most worn boot this year maybe, just so easy to throw them on and not have to think about it, plus I've been liking black leather more recently.

Will see how I treat my Onderhoud derbies I have recently started wearing, so far, babying them slightly, still debating on whether or not to give them a shine. I loved the shine on my other boots.
 

cbez

Practically Family
Messages
892
Location
CA
I got too many boots to get good patina now they all get one wear a week or so..

I also have to consider how it will look in the office, thrashed ranch boots don't exactly fit in a white collar environment where a well maintained boot can slip by.
 

jeo

One Too Many
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1,764
Location
Philadelphia
I have a pair of Red Wing iron rangers for when I do manual labor. They’re about 6 years old now and pretty beat up. When they were new I didn’t want to work in them.

As for all my other boots, they are for walking around and looking fancy and cool, much like my jackets quite honestly. I do not baby them though.
 

Marc mndt

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,709
Here's an example of my Jack White Bros / White Kloud, I felt like I needed to baby these, at least for a little while because of how precise and well made they are. As they stand they are still far and away the most well made boots in my collection.

Brand New:
20221102_181056.jpg

Still in babying phase, trying out shine (approx 2 months in):
20230101_170138.jpg

6 months in, didn't bother reshining them, but still not anywhere close to beat up:
20230403_124422.jpg


After 1 month Japan trip, seen lots of rain, daily wear, most amount of wear it's ever gotten in a short period
20230605_191612.jpg
This is imo a prime example of boots that looks much better in well-worn condition than when they were brand new..
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,709
Location
London, UK
I don't baby any of my boots - but nor do I deliberately mistreat them. My preferred aesthetic is to wear them in, not wear them out. I'm not so much a fan of teacore as I don't care for mixing brown and black, though I would love a pair of engineers that wore from black to a dark oxblood. Gradually, though - I'm even less of a fan of these finishes that are designed to look seventy years old within a month!
 

dudewuttheheck

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4,256
My favorite look is the Japanese style of wearing the boots and letting the leather age and tea core pop through and then polishing over that. Makes me think of certain high end dress shoes.

It's a weird blend of casual and dressy that I like. After all, I wear engineers which haven't been work boots for many decades and some argue were never really true work boots.
 

navetsea

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6,701
Location
East Java
in a way the condition of our footwear should represent our activity, since I don't do construction nor outdoor bushcrafting or trekking or whatever that beats up my boots, it would be weird to wear a dirty boots, the same with pants nowadays work and military pants are common to be worn just for look, but it would be cartoony to wear a camo pants with fake bullet holes and fake dried blood.

Its hard to compare rough out and smooth leather, my roughout and nubuck are picking in everyday grimes more and while I clean them by brushing from time to time but I never use eraser to clean the stains, my smooth leather is treated almost the same I brush them from time to time and condition them, but I never polish them or adding color to it, some light waxing I do to the toe area from time to time but mostly just buffing with cloth to bring back some light shine to it. I also don't mind shifter stain or wear on my boots I try to brush or buff it but eventually the left boot will have stained toe/ vamp which is OK although I normally hate asymmetry
 
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barnabus

One Too Many
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1,349
Location
Britain's oldest recorded town
Everything is for everyday.

Of course you can wear workboots for work and they'll look like it, but if your work is just poncing about taking photos of your fades then you can wear them for that too.

Keep them clean if you want to. Or not, if you don't.

I like my things to look worn in, but not wrecked. But then, I don't have a thousand pounds to spend on a pair of boots either, so my opinion is probably moot.
 

RossRYoung

Practically Family
Messages
889
My boots were purchased for work. Several sets, for work to swap out between uses to maximize boot life. I have 2 pairs for dress too though. To me, use it for its intended purpose otherwise it’s almost a disservice to the item. Like keeping chore coats or overalls in pristine condition… feels wrong. Hell I even had a guy on here try to call me out for wearing a work jacket to work….thought that was the most ludicrous thing.

To each their own of course, but having dozens and dozens of practically unworn boots all in the name of fashion is disappointing to me personally and also hard to applaud or ‘like’.
 

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