Are Boots Business Casual?

In today’s day and age, the lines between casual and business casual blur ever more and more. Even sneakers can be considered business casual appropriate, depending on what the style of the sneaker is. However, many men are left wondering: are boots business casual?

Boots can definitely be considered business casual. Just like with sneakers or any other shoe or accessory (such as watches), it depends on the appearance of the boot.

Rain boots, for example, would not be considered business casual appropriate, whereas a boot with a high-class leather grain and rustic appearance would be.

The Gentleman’s Playbook will help you figure out whether the boots you have (or plan to purchase) would be considered business casual. To do this, we will outline what features make a boot business casual and which features would disqualify a boot from this classification. Then, we will answer frequently asked questions we have received on specific boot styles and brands.

What Makes a Boot Business Casual Appropriate?

Before we take a look at specific boot brands and boot types, we want to set out some conditions that allow a boot to qualify as business casual friendly. Here are our primary conditions:

  • Primary Material is Leather
  • Neutral Toned Laces
  • Metal Lace Eyelets
  • Neutral/Natural Color Leather (Shades of Brown or Black)
  • Sleek/Slimmer Profile
  • Clean, Not Dirty

Generally speaking, as long as you stick to those rules for your boots, they’ll be good to go for business casual.

What Makes a Boot NOT Business Casual Friendly?

While we can talk about what features make a boot business casual appropriate, it’s more important to highlight which characteristics would disqualify a boot from being allowable in a business casual scenario.

The following are features you want to avoid if you’re looking for a business casual boot:

  • Wide Round or Square Toe Shapes (think classic Timbs)
  • Rubber as the Primary Material (e.g. rain boots)
  • Fake or Faux Leather as Primary Material
  • Bright Colors
  • Dirty/Covered in Grime
  • Higher than Ankle-Height (think knee-high boots)
  • Hiking Boots

While it may come across as an oversimplification, it’s simple to understand what kinds of boots would work for business casual and which ones won’t.

Examples of Business Casual Boots

Explaining is one thing, but we want to show you what kind of boots are business casual appropriate! Here are a couple of different boots that would work great for business casual attire. We’ve included notes on why we think these work:

Cadet Cap Toe Boot by Thursday Boot Co.

This Cadet Cap Toe Boot from Thursday Boot Company is a great example of a business casual boot that meets all of our criteria – the primary material is high-quality leather, the boots come in natural color tones (Walnut, Black, Mocha, and Tobacco are the available color options), the laces follow suit to match the color palette, and the lace eyelets are made of metal.

Thursday Boot Company’s Cadet Cap Toe Boot also is sleek and has a toe that comes to a classy rounded point, just as we mentioned in our criteria for what boots are considered business casual.

Troopah-c Combat Boot by Steve Madden

The second example of a boot that’s appropriate for business casual would be this Combat Boot from Steve Madden. Again, take note of certain features that keep this boot from crossing into the non-business casual friendly realm.

What makes this boot work for business casual? It’s got a modestly round toe, metal lace eyelets, a rustic leather for the main material, the soles aren’t too bulky or tall, and it comes in natural color options (Brown and Black). There’s no material (outside of the sole) that’s non-leather either, so no mesh, rubber, or overuse of canvas that would violate our rules for a business casual boot.

Example of Boots that Are NOT Business Casual

Here are some great examples of boots that we would not consider business casual appropriate at The Gentleman’s Playbook:

Men’s Moab 2 Hiking Boot

The reason this boot would not be fit for business casual is because it’s a hiking boot. This isn’t a boot designed for aesthetic appeal, but purely designed for function. While it would be great for a hike out in the woods, it would not be fit at all for business settings.

Timberland PRO Boots

While Timberland makes phenomenally constructed and durable boots, this specific style of Timbs would not be appropriate for business casual use. While it does maintain natural colors and has metal eyelets, the design is not sleek enough to qualify as a business casual boot. For boots that are business casual, they almost need to adopt some of the styles found in dress shoes.

Are Doc Martens Business Casual?

If you’re a boot fan, you may be wondering, are Doc Martens business casual? Yes, Doc Martens are business casual. As long as you stick to the criteria we set forth, your Docs should be perfectly fine for business casual wear – they should be primarily crafted out of leather, the color should be natural leather tones, and they shouldn’t be too blocky.

Some Doc Martens can be rather blocky, so make sure you choose a pair of Doc Martens that are more slick and stylistic – such as the Dr. Martens Chelsea boot or the classy Coronado Oxford.

Avoid any Doc Martens that are akin to work or construction boots. Follow our guidelines on boots for the office and you’ll easily find a pair of Doc Martens that are business casual!

Are Chelsea Boots Business Casual?

These boots have been increasingly popular in men’s fashion, but many are left asking – are Chelsea boots business casual appropriate? Fortunately, the answer is a strong yes!

Chelsea boots are great for business casual wear – as long as you stick to real, authentic leather as the primary material and avoid any rubber or plasticky style Chelseas, you can rock functionally any pair of Chelsea boots with your business casual outfit. Here are some great examples of Chelsea boots for business casual:

Doc Marten Chelsea Boots

Thursday Boot Company Cavalier Men’s Chelsea Boot

Are Cowboy Boots Business Casual?

Cowboy boots – are they business casual appropriate? Generally, yes, but there are some caveats here.

Cowboy boots are business casual if they follow the rules we’ve been outlining throughout our breakdown on whether boots are business casual, but one thing we want to mention is that cowboy style boots will no longer be business casual friendly if they are dirty or banged up.

Your cowboy boots will need to be clean and well-cared for to be business casual appropriate. You can’t go straight from wrangling to the office if your boots are dirty – we suggest having a pair that you use strictly for business casual wear if you want to use cowboy boots for your work attire.

Are Chukka Boots Business Casual?

Another common question we get at The Gentleman’s Playbook is whether or not Chukka boots are business casual – Chukkas are great for business casual! There are a great variety of Chukka-style boots available for men, so you’ll be in no shortage of options.

Chukkas are like a cross between a boot and a classic sneaker, adopting the architecture of both while maintaining the classic leather and durability of a regular boot. 

Are Boots Business Casual or Not?

So, are boots business casual or not? Yes, boots are business casual as long as they fit the following criteria:

  • Primary Material is Leather
  • Neutral Toned Laces
  • Metal Lace Eyelets
  • Neutral/Natural Color Leather (Shades of Brown or Black)
  • Sleek/Slimmer Profile
  • Clean, Not Dirty

There are many different styles of boots that can be worn for business casual such as Chelsea boots, combat-style boots, cowboy boots, and chukka boots. Great brands for buying boots that are business casual appropriate are Doc Marten and the Thursday Boot Company!

The Gentleman’s Playbook hopes you find the perfect business casual boots for your workday! If you didn’t find any boots that resonated with your fashion choices, then you may be interested in our article, Are Sneakers Business Casual