Turning to appropriate footwear for winter weather – I have a pair of black ten-holer Dr. Marten boots in the back of the cupboard for extreme foul conditions but they aren’t very versatile and for that reason have been very rarely pulled out.
My impression is that Mods of my vintage who still live in Britain often lean towards chunky brogue boots to see them through the worst of the winter. The likes of Loake Burford, Bedale, Glendale or Tricker’s Stow seem to be popular choices.
I’m sure these are practical and they seem robust enough to deal with foul weather but they just look a bit too rustic and clunky for my tastes.
I was in Brooks Brothers many years ago and saw a pair of burgundy pebble-grained leather chukka boots with dainite soles by Peal. I’m not sure from which maker they were rebadged – maybe Alfred Sargeant? – but they struck me as possibly the ultimate foul weather footwear.
I was slightly tempted but I remember thinking that was a lot of money to spend on boots which would see rare use.
More recently I was in the Meermin showroom in New York City and they do a similar boot for around $200.
At the same time I noticed they did a ‘jump boot’ style captoe derby lace up which had a shearling fur lining and dainite soles.
These could even eclipse the Peals as the ultimate foul weather footwear, but the two standard colours – dark brown or the antique oak pictured above – were not very appealing to me.
I decided to shelve the idea for the moment but my patience paid off as more recently Meermin had one of their periodic made-to-order offerings during which you can choose some details – leather type, colour, sole, linings – to customise your preferences. I made my choices and the boots arrived at the end of last summer. My options were burgundy grain calf leather, dainite soles, and shearling linings, with the intention of creating the ultimate winter boot on that burgundy colour that had attracted me to the idea in the first place:
Once paid for I was in a brief ‘buyers remorse’ mode wondering if I should have paid the upcharge and gone for the shell cordovan option but I just thought calf would be better if they got wet as I wouldn’t have to deal with the characteristic cordovan white spots! No regrets now!
I have several Meermins in a few lasts (mostly Hiro) all in UK 7.5 as my US size is usually 8.5. I was hoping the shearling lining wouldn’t bugger up the sizing but they have adjusted the size to accommodate that and they fit really well with the shearling making them feel nice and snug.
The leather quality looks great. It’s a gleaming burgundy colour which is a proper red. (I was disappointed with some ‘burgundy‘ grain loafers I got from Morjas last year which were almost black so they were returned).
I wasn’t sure about the punch cap but it adds a touch of class and slightly mitigates the rustic grain leather, which adds to the versatility. I reckon I could wear these with strides from as casual as jeans and heavy chinos up to odd trousers or even suits in heavy fabric – maybe flannel or tweed. (I don’t own suits in flannel or tweed but they would certainly work with odd-jacket outfits with strides made from either!)
I prefer the look of eyelets over the speed hooks on some of the other Meermin models but it makes lacing up a bit of a challenge and that’s not helped by the ridiculously short laces they sent. The infamous nightmare Meermin break-in doesn’t seem to apply here as they were very comfortable right out of the box. I found that there’s a flex point near the top of the boots’ shaft so it’s more comfortable to forego using the top set of eyelets.
The stamping of the grain pattern on the toecap isn’t as aggressive as on the rest of the boot. I suspect that this may be a deliberate move by Meermin to facilitate those with the time, patience and desire to polish up a mirror shine on the toes. That’s not really my thing but it’s there for those who want it. My only other mini gripe is that the addition of a leather pull tab at the top of the rear seam – really just an extension of the backstrap – would have been a bonus in making them easier to don. Not a big deal.
So there’s my optimal cold-weather options. There’s not much about this ensemble that makes obvious references to the Mod look but in my view the military provenance of each item makes for a coherent outfit that does not cross the line into dress-up. Judge for yourselves if I managed to maintain a small element of style while coping with the elements. I certainly feel like this outfit reflects my own preferences much more than a brightly coloured nylon ski parka or other similar modern outdoor gear would, despite the reservations of those army lads I encountered many years ago!
I wore this entire rig recently on a trip to Buffalo NY so I could ‘field test’ my acquisitions, and I’m happy to report that I remained toasty despite the temperature never managing to creep above freezing.
If I ever do find myself suffering at the Stadium of Light one Boxing Day in the future I’m confident any suffering I’m made to endure will be more likely a result of the team’s performance, not due to the cold!