Doc Martens – What are they and how do you wear them?

Doc Martens boots are more than just footwear and to call them a fashion icon would be an understatement! 

Dr. Martens were in fact the only footwear to hold the prestige of being included recently in a list of Brithsh design icons. A list that included the Mini Cooper, Jaguar, the Concorde, Aston Martin, and the World Wide Web (yes that too is technically British). 

Doc Martens have been in style for almost 60 years, and with almost no external changes to the boots! This article will start out with a brief overview of the fascinating history of Dr. Martens boots and then we will examine how to wear them. 

Dr. Klaus Märtens and the Design of His Boots

Yes, Dr. Martens was actually a doctor, and surprisingly he wasn’t a British doctoe! He was a German Army doctor. After an unfortunate ankle injury, (not at war, but skiing on vacation) he had a hard time wearing the standard German army boots. It seems that the German ones weren’t as comfortable as the Italian ones 😉

Due to his injury, and in great part to his inquisitive mind, Dr Martens designed a new boot. His new boot design, although somewhat rustic, was innovative. He decided to use soft leather, instead of the typical hard leather used in army boots. He also thought completely ‘out of the box when it came to the sole. Dr Martens actually used old tires for the sole of his prototype and came up with the now famous air padded rubber soles. 

Unfortunately, as innovative and comfortable as they were Dr. Martens had a hard time marketing and selling his new boots. Thankfully for us, he ran into an old school friend who had a much better mind for business. Recognizing the potential of these amazing boots, his friend Herbert Funck decided to partner up with Dr. Martens.

The boots started to take off shortly afterward, but not as they had expected. Dr. Martens had designed a “comfortable army boots”, logic would say that it was a men’s boot. However, over eighty percent of the sales in the first decade of sale actually came from women! 

Doc Martens, British or German?

In 1959 the shoe company had gotten big enough to need a new headquarters, for which Märtens and Funck chose Munich… Wait a minute, Munich? Yes, Dr. Martens was a German doctor and the company world-renowned ‘British’ company was born in Germany! So, why is it considered a British icon? Glad you asked!

Due to its quick and extensive growth, Märtens and Funck realized the advantage of marketing their boots world-wide. This quickly caught the attention of a large British shoe company, R. Griggs Group Ltd, who jumped on what they saw as an opportunity of a lifetime. The British company invested in buying the rights to and patenting Dr. Martens design. It was at this point that the trademark yellow stitching was added. Among a few other minor adjustments were some proportional adjustments in order to make the boot fit better, particularly the heel. The air cushion was also given the patented name of “AirWave”.  

Are Doc Martens Good in the Snow?

Doc Martens are used as winter boots by many. Especially those loyal to the brand. They work well as winter boots if worn right. A definite plus is their thick soles and good traction.

If they are not worn right, however, they won’t be the best choice. So how do you “wear them right”?

Winter wear Tip 1: Make sure you waterproof them! While they are water resistant, Doc Martens are not waterproof. So if you plan on wearing them in the snow, slush, or sleet you will definitely want to make sure you waterproof them.

Winter wear Tip 2: Make sure you wear good wool or winter socks! Doc Martens are not insulated. The leather used is thin and soft, while this contributes to the comfort and appeal of the boot, it does not make them warm. This can be solved by wearing the right socks!

So, while Doc Martens are not a winter boot, they can work nicely. Of course if you are going on an excursion in the artic it migh be better to limit their use to inside your tent 😉

How to Wear Doc Martens

There really is not a wrong way to wear them. Thanks to the fact that part of the success of Doc Martens was their link to rebellion there aren’t really any unacceptable ways to wear them.

Dr. Martens can regularly be seen combined with jeans, shorts, skirts, suits, and pretty much any other clothing imaginable! However, you will look better if you combine the colors right, so think about the  following advice: 

Black Doc Martens:

The most versatile and easy to combine Dr Martens boots are the classic black ones. They will combine with almost any color surprisingly well. 

My Italian mother always told me that it was never acceptable to wear black shoes with white pants, however, even I will sometimes make an exception with Dr. Martens. I think it has something to do with the yellow stitching. The black leather with the yellow stitching seems to help the boots combine with almost anything.

Red Doc Martens:

As the black Dr Martens are, the red ones are also classics and original. They don’t combine with everything quite like the black ones, however, they are great to add a little color to an otherwise bland outfit. 

White Doc Martens:

hese are more for special occasions and obviously for the summertime. They look great with shorts and go surprisingly well with black pants or jeans. I think these are the best ones to wear with shorts.

Multi-colored Doc Martens:

It isn’t uncommon to see different patterns out there. Some patterned leather comes from the factory and others are custom designed (added to the leather later on). There isn’t really much I can say about these, other than that it’s a great idea!

Conclusion on Doc Marten Outfits:

When combining Doc Martens it is important to just use common sense, but also to remember that a lot of the fashion statement that Dr Martens give off comes from the eccentric nature and therefore it would be hard to wear them in the wrong way!

For more ideas and inspiration on DOC MARTIN OUTFITS and how to wear Doc Martens check out our gallery: Doc Martens Outfits

I hope you have enjoyed this brief article on the iconic British boots that we so lovingly call: Doc Martens! The next time you put on a pair, take a moment to think about their unique history.