Chukka boots probably get their name from the chukka (or chukker), a period of a polo game lasting a quarter of the total duration. The mystery is what the link to the footwear is because the game is played in knee-length riding boots, not ankle-highs. A theory is that they were worn after the game, but in truth, nobody knows.
What we do know is that the chukka boot is now a footwear staple, worn in both formal and casual settings. The original chukka was a light brown and had two or three lace holes, the upper reaching the ankle. Nowadays, the term is a lot looser and can mean a range of ankle boots with no limit to the number of lace holes, and a choice of colours. So how do you wear chukka boots? Let’s have a look.
What do you wear chukka boots with?
Because chukka boots can be formal or casual, they can be worn with jeans, trousers or a suit. Generally, the khaki suede ones go best with jeans, whereas polished black or brown leather chukkas have more formal undertones. Just make sure the trouser leg isn’t narrow at the ankle. Chukka boots can also give a pulled together smart casual look with chinos.
The high ankle of the chukka boot means you need to be careful when you choose the width of your trousers or jeans. Too narrow and they’ll get bunched up at the bottom as they won’t slide over the boots. Too loose and you could end up adopting a kind of 1970s hippy look. The chukka will always lend your outfit a smart edge, even if you’re quite informal, so always keep your legwear long. Shorts don’t tend to work.
What are chukka boots used for?
In modern times, chukka boots are an everyday pair of ankle boots that can be either formal or relaxed, but never completely laid-back. In the past, they were used by soldiers in the North African campaign to help keep the sand out while not being too heavy.
“Chukka boots” is an umbrella term for a wide range of styles, so you can wear them on formal or semi-formal occasions, such as the American Craft chukka; they can be casual, like the Adventure 2.0; or they can be active, like the Newmarket chukka.