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By Paul Evans
It’s purely coincidence that chukka—a style of boot that was developed to help soldiers drudge in the desert—rhymes with the desert plant “yucca.” Coincidence or not, it’s a handy way to remember how to pronounce this popular dress boot. The word “chukka” comes from the sport of polo where a period of play is called a “chukka” or a “chukker;” but their backstory goes beyond playing with ponies.
The chukka boot we know and love today was first introduced in America by the brand C & J Clark International. Nathan Clark based the “Clarks Desert Boot” off of the styles he saw British soldiers wearing in North Africa and East Asia. The ankle high, lightweight leather boots provided the comfort and flexibility needed to navigate desert terrain.
The comfort, flexibility, and aesthetic appeal of the chukka boot have made it a favorite amongst stylish men everywhere. Still ankle height, still lightweight, the modern chukka stands out when it’s made from Italian calfskin leather.
Because they are so lightweight, walking in chukkas doesn’t feel like walking in regular boots. The fit of the chukka is more akin to that of a sneaker than a boot. Don’t let its comfort fool you, though. The chukka is a style of boot that can be dressed up and is the perfect companion to your workday suits during the cold days of winter.
On your days off you can wear your chukka boots with your favorite casual ensembles. Worn with decent jeans and a T-shirt, chukkas stand out as a relaxed but fashionable accessory. Or try them with a well-fitted sport coat and chinos for the perfect date outfit. You’d be astonished at how many outfits look good with the chukka—just maybe avoid pairing them with shorts… please.
Next time you find yourself in a crowd of well-dressed young men, take note on how many of them are sporting the chukka and how differently they each style it. Whether you dress it up or dress it down, the chukka boot is the perfect balance between comfort and style.