Questions about whether men should wear boots instead of dress shoes with a suit or businesswear (shirt & tie) continue to drive many visitors to my website page on wearing cowboy boots. [Update: this link was broken when posted; it is now fixed. Sorry!]
Half of the thousands of visitors that search engines drive to my website are looking for results to these fundamental questions:
- Can men wear boots with a suit?
- Should I wear boots to the office?
- What boots to wear with dress clothes in the office?
- Can guys wear a shirt and tie with dress slacks and boots?
- What are the best boots to wear to work in an office?
The simple answers to all of these questions can be summed up…
YES! Of course men who work in an office can and should wear boots with dress clothes.
Most of these questions are probably from men, or women who pick out clothing including footwear, for the men in their lives. It is easy to think that entering a question like that into a search engine keeps the person asking the question anonymous. While I do not know specifically who these people are (and I don’t really care), I do see the questions that drive links to my website and this blog every day.
Men tend to use the internet to ask questions that they are uncomfortable, embarrassed about, or would not ask a spouse, girlfriend, or co-worker. Men generally do not want to reveal their insecurities — and wearing boots to work is one of those insecure feelings that many men have.
- Will anyone say anything about my boots?
- Can I wear black boots with a brown suit, or brown boots with navy slacks?
- Does the color of my belt have to match the color of my boots?
Mostly, men are concerned (or perhaps afraid?) about what other people may say, like “howdy, Tex, where’s your horse?” And most men are aware of fashion choices such as matching the color of clothing and accessories (ties, belts) with footwear, but usually adopt the “clone style” and watch what other men are wearing and dress the same way.
Unfortunately, the business clone style doesn’t include boots.
But men who are self-confident, who are not afraid of stepping out to be their own man, and who like how boots feel and believe that boots are a good alternate to the clonish and rather expensive men’s dress shoes are choosing to wear boots to work.
I admit, I am much more of a boot aficionado than most other guys. I wear boots as my exclusive choice of footwear. I do not own a pair of dress shoes, or even a pair of sneakers for that matter. And I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing crocs or flip-flops. Talk about dorky, silly footwear! But I digress….
I work in an office. I am in a management position. I supervise other people. I attend many meetings with other professionals and leadership of the place where I work. There are hundreds of men who work in my building and for my agency. Most of these men are long-term, older, professional and technical staff. They dress following the usual but unstated dress code of Washington, DC — dress shirt, tie, clean & pressed slacks, — usually in drab fashion choices like the DC professional clone — white or blue shirt, navy or black slacks, and red, blue or subdued tie. And … uggghhh… dorky dress shoes.
While I wear a shirt & tie (most days), and have clean, pressed slacks, I always wear boots. (However, I never have to wear a suit, thankfully.) I choose boots that fit, look good with dress clothing, and are comfortable. Many men in the U.S. Southwest and those in other areas may choose to wear roper (style) boots. Ropers look pretty much like dress shoes. They even have the same heel height. While I have and wear ropers, I also wear many other styles of boots — traditional 13-inch cowboy boots, dress motorcycle patrol boots, and shined-up harness boots. I like to have many choices because I like to wear boots!
Does anyone say anything about the boots? Hardly ever. But when they do, often they say something like, “nice boots.” And that’s it!
Occasionally someone might make a crack about the boots when they’re trying to be funny. My typical response to that droll behavior is to ignore it. On the rare occasion, I will reply with something like, “thanks for noticing the boots. They’re comfortable.” I’ve even said once or twice, “Where’s my horse? He’s the big brown one out in the lot. See it? (Pointing out the window). He just pooped on your BMW.”
Do I think about matching color of boots with clothing I wear? Of course I do. That is among the reasons why I have many choices of dressy cowboy boots and even dressy motorcycle boots in my collection. (I wear motorcycle boots when I ride my Harley as my choice of vehicle to commute to the office, which is usually between April and November with occasional gift riding days during winter months.)
I wear black, black cherry, or sometimes even hand-tooled boots with blue, white, or similar colors with navy or black slacks. I wear brown, tan, black cherry, or hand-tooled multi-colored (in the brown range) with brown slacks or khakis (tan or wheat.) I wear a black belt when I wear clothing and boots in the blue/black hues, and a brown belt when I’m going brown, tan, or khaki.
And because I am ultimately confident about wearing boots to work and don’t give a rat’s patootee about what other people may say or think — I often wear boots with exotic skins like ostrich, python, lizard, or even rattlesnake.
Every day, there is a cadre of coworkers who check out my boots. I have noticed that some of them now are wearing boots with dress clothing, too. Okay, I’ve started a trend. Men are closely attentive to what other men wear to work, and as they see more and more men wearing boots and not having their fears confirmed (that is, no one says anything other than a compliment)… more of them are choosing to add boots to their daily choice of what to wear to work.
Now, I must admit, most of these men who are starting to wear boots to work are wearing them on “dress down Fridays” where most coworkers ditch the tie and sometimes even wear clean denim jeans … with boots. Okay, that’s a start.
In summary, yes you CAN and you SHOULD wear boots to work. Get over your hang-ups. Learn to stand tall, smile, and demonstrate that you are the confident man that you are. Because, after all…
Life is short: wear boots to work in an office!