My first ever post on the blog made back in October 2014 was entitled ‘Chelsea Boots’. I discussed a recent acquisition of Chelsea boots in black calf. ‘Chelsea Boots – Part Two‘ showed my new Meermin snuff suedes, ‘Chelsea Boots – Part Three’ my Carmina version in burgundy calf and ‘Chelsea Boots – Part Four‘ my dark burgundy horsehide boots from Epaulet.
At that point I thought I was done! I should have known better! Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed a cool pair of blue calf Chelsea boots which I got online from Arthur Knight, a footwear retailer in England. I came across this great colour pair of boots whilst roaming online and luckily they fit me very well. They can be dressed up or down but I tend to wear them with my royal blue windowpane blazer, and so far I’m very happy with them.
Did you think I was done with Chelseas then, at five pairs? Think again! That first pair I bought back in 2014 – I knew they were not ‘top drawer’ quality having got them from Aldo, a High Street / mall brand of footwear retailers here in America. Still, despite their less than stellar construction and provenance, they weren’t cheap, and I threw some extra money at them to get a rubber Vibram sole applied by a cobbler to make them a bit more useful in wet weather.
I mentioned in one of the previous Chelsea Boots posts that I didn’t wear this pair very often, maybe eight to ten times over the years, and did not do a lot of walking in them. Then a few months ago I wore them when I was in New York City for work and had a bit of extra time to go shopping. I was trying on some shoes in a shop on Madison Avenue when I removed the boots and was embarrassed to see my black socks covered in some weird tan-coloured detritus. I quickly realised this was the inner lining of those Aldo boots deteriorating with wear. That old adage about ‘buy cheap – buy twice’ came back to me … and they weren’t even THAT cheap!
Anyway I swiftly took myself downtown to the Meermin showroom. It’s not an easy place to find on the second floor of a building on the north end of Greene Street in the East Village, but it’s a nice, bright, spacious area with most of their shoe and boot models out on display. The bonus of course being that you get to try on shoes rather than spin the internet shoe size tombola wheel. Surfing the Meermin website you may find no less than five black calf versions of Chelsea boots. I tried a few on and settled for this pair in black ‘soft calf’ with a single width rubber sole.
Meermin shoes seem to be getting a bit of a reputation for being very hard to break in but that was not the case for these. They felt so good at first fitting that I abandoned the deteriorating Aldo boots and walked out of the shop in the new Meermins. The ‘soft calf’ construction along with the rubber ‘city sole’ – which is much more forgiving than the Dainite soul I have on the snuff suede versions – combine to provide a very short break in and comfortable wearing almost out of the box.
One of the attractions of Chelsea boots is that they come in a broad formality range, from clunky RM Williams and Blundstones which are very rustic and informal, to those made by Edward Green and Crockett and Jones which come with sleek lasts, single leather soles and polished calf. These Meermins sit somewhere in the middle of the formality scale, with wholecut construction, narrow, slightly rounded last and single width rubber soles. The leather has a subtle gleam as opposed to a high mirror shine, all of which contribute to the versatility. I could see myself wearing these with blue jeans, a blazer and sta-pressts, even a dark suit.