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How to style combat boots (outfit ideas)

They are one of the most recognizable fashion items and definitely one of the most worn. Everyone can wear them and anyone can use them as the cornerstone of an amazing outfit. Combat boots have gone from the battlefield to the fashion runway. These boots are both classic and edgy, cool and practical. There are lots of different outfit ideas you can put together with combat boots. Learn how to style combat boots like a pro and you’ll always have a great look that’s ready to go. 

 History of Combat Boots

Combat boots are a relatively modern invention. Even as recently as the American Revolution, soldiers did not have standard-issue footwear to protect themselves from the harsh winter in New Jersey, Delaware and other parts of New England. But the history of combat is as old as the history of humankind itself. And while it wasn’t widely practiced until the modern era, some armies were outfitted with boots that they wore in combat on the battlefield.

Combat boots and long legs

Roman soldiers did wear uniform boots two thousand years ago. The boots they wore were hobnail boots, which means the soles had real nails hammered into them. This actually gave the soldiers better traction across a variety of terrain. During the English Civil War of the 1600s, soldiers were given three types of ankle-high boots to wear as part of their standard uniform. At the end of the 1800s, British soldiers wore what they called “ammunition boots” as a standard part of their combat uniform. These boots were about ankle-high and unlined. They were made with leather laces and iron plates in the toes and heels.

U.S. soldiers began to copy the style worn by their British counterparts. Soldiers fighting for the U.S. against British forces started wearing calf-length and ankle-high boots during the War of 1812. But it wasn’t until 1816 that the U.S. had an official combat boot: the Jefferson boot.

The Jefferson boot was a very simple, standard boot with such a basic design that there was no difference between the left and right foot. This was the first true combat boot issued to U.S. Armed Forces service members. It was just the beginning of the military’s large collection of combat boot styles.

 Modern Technology

It was Luman Munson who created the modern combat boot as it’s known today. Munson was a doctor in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After examining 4,000 pairs of feet and talking to many soldiers, Munson created the Muson last. This design follows the natural contours of the foot and keeps steps supported. In 1912, the U.S. armed forces began using this last for all their boots and shoes. 

The trench boot was the combat boot of choice for soldiers during WWI. This boot was made with a leather sole. An iron plate was added to the heel. The problem? The boot wasn’t waterproof. This led to a great deal of discomfort in the infamous trenches. In 1918, the boots were changed to become waterproof. This practical innovation would be the first in a long line of adaptations the U.S. armed forces would eventually include in their various combat boot designs. Over the years, the boots would be continuously adapted and various styles would be issued to accommodate different types of warfare, weather and terrain.

One example of this ever-evolving combat boot design is the standard jungle boot issued by the U.S. Army. Jungle boots were developed in the 1940s so they could be worn by soldiers stationed in Panama. The lightweight design was made with ventilated mesh that allowed airflow to provide natural cooling for the feet. Jungle boots were used again during the Vietnam War. 

 Jump boots, a combat boot design made with all leather, were worn by soldiers during the Korean war. These boots were warm and protective, a design that was much needed for the mountainous terrain in North Korea. The U.S. Armed Forces continue to adapt their combat boots using the latest in technology, designing new styles to fit the latest needs of the soldiers in the field and on the ground.

While the basic black combat boot is the one you probably imagine when you think of military boots, the Armed Forces actually issues standard styles of boots in desert and forest camouflage colors as well.

Pop Fashion

Combat boots were strictly soldiers’ wear through a great portion of history. But in the 1970s, they crossed over into the modern fashion movement. Punk rockers of the era embraced combat boots, presumably for their tough looks, comfortable fit and practical features. But surprisingly, the subculture known as punk rock became a mainstream sensation, rather than something just for a small group of young people. The world was ready to embrace the openly rebellious look and sound of punk rock. Soon, combat boots were a must-have fashion item for people from all walks of life.

A-listers and fashion leaders of all types started putting together different combat boot looks, turning this military staple into a trendy item that everyone wanted. Soon, fashion designers caught onto the trend and began making their own boot designs inspired by military footwear styles.

Now, combat boots are made in a huge variety of colors, patterns and designs. White combat boots are just as common in fashion as basic black. Combat boots have become just as iconic and recognizable as cowboy boot, chelsea boot and other extremely popular fashion boot styles.

Types of Combat Boots

 The basic features of combat boots are pretty universal. For the most part, combat boots are mid-high boots that cover the foot and ankle completely and go up toward the knee, typically falling several inches short of the knee and ending around mid-calf or lower. They have a lace-up design and they are made to be tough. Combat boots typically have rounded toes and full foot protection. You can count on them to have soles made with a deep tread to provide traction. Military combat boots are made with full-grain leather but fashion combat boots may be made with vinyl, polyurethane or many other types of materials.

High fashion combat boots

 But within this basic design, combat boots have a lot of different styles and variations. You can wear different types of combat boots to suit different weather conditions and maybe even different outfits, depending on how you style your boots. Which types of combat boots should you be trying for your feet? 

All Weather

 All weather combat boots are made to be worn in any type of weather conditions or terrain. These boots won’t have a lot of insulation to add warmth or a lot of mesh panels to provide cooling airflow, though they may have a little of one or both of those features. All weather combat boots tend to have a more iconic and classic military look because they don’t have all the tech that many modern pairs of boots have. These boots are designed for simple style. These are a very common type of combat boot that can be worn any time of year. If you’re looking for a great all-around combat boot that can be worn with lots of different styles, from your favorite leather jacket to your favorite jean skirt, all weather combat boot designs are a great place to start looking.

Urban Outfitters always has a great selection of combat boots in a wide variety of styles and colors. This is the perfect place to start looking if you want hip, trendy, fashionable boots that are going to look good on your feet. These boots borrow heavily from combat boots styles and they’re made for both fashion and function. Urban Outfitters updates their styles often, so you can always come here to look for the latest combat boot styles and start picturing various outfit ideas.

Cold Weather

Cold weather combat boots are made to take on the coldest temperatures and the worst weather conditions. These boots have features like insulation to hold in heat around the feet, rather than allowing it to escape. Cold weather boots also often have more traction on the soles so they give you surer footing in ice and snow. Combat boots designed for cold weather are made with thick uppers that prevent cold from getting to your feet. These boots have no mesh panels. They’re warm, they’re tough and they’re usually also waterproof to keep your feet dry even in snowy conditions. This is a great chunky boot style for winter weather outfits. A cold weather combat boot pairs great with leggings and a sweater dress.

The Outnet has a huge selection of combat boots, from styles made just for fashion to tough, cold weather combat boots that can help you face even harsh conditions. Shop here for combat boots in wild and fun colors, like bright red, or even interesting animal prints, in addition to the usual black or khaki. There are lots of combat boots here you’re going to want to wear. The good news is, the Outnet hosts frequent sales and discounts that can help you spend less to get a lot more boots. If you want great street style boots, this is a fantastic place to start.

Hot weather

Combat boots made for hot weather may also be called desert boots. These boots are made with mesh panels and features that keep feet cooler and less sweaty. Hot weather boots might have an absorbent, moisture-wicking lining to keep feet dry even in hot conditions. Desert boots are often made in khaki and tan color shades in order to match the natural colors of the desert terrain. Other types of hot weather boots are suited to jungle environments and may be black or various shades of green in color. Hot weather combat boots are a great choice for summer fashion. This is the best combat boot to wear if you’re getting military boots for hiking.

If you’re looking for fashionable boots inspired by military designs, look no further than Simmi London. They have a bit selection of boots inspired by classic combat boot designs and features, so you can get as tactical or as trendy as you want when it comes to your footwear. Simmi London is all about modern fashion, so this is a great place to shop if you want to enjoy the stylish side of the combat boot trend. You can shop here to find all kinds of different ankle boot styles, in fact.


Lightweight military combat boots are made with materials that won’t weigh down the design or your feet. These boots are often made with foam materials, for example, that are lighter in weight. This creates a lightweight boot design. In some designs, air pockets may even be integrated into the design to create a more lightweight feel. Lightweight boot designs are a good fashion choice because they’re comfortable to wear.

Shop for high-end combat boot styles at Kenneth Cole. A well-known name in fashion, Kenneth Cole offers trendy high fashion looks. That even goes for the combat boots, which are available in a variety of colors and designs here. When you want a lightweight and great-looking boot just for the sake of fashion, this is exactly where you want to shop. Find everything from basic black boots to more colorful styles here.


Combat boots that are sold as tactical boots are typically made with military-style features and materials, or may even be the same type of boots that are made for the military. Many boot manufacturers make combat boots that meet Armed Forces specifications for military service so that even civilians can purchase actual combat-ready boots that are made the same as any standard-issue pair. These boots are made with all the features found in combat boots that are issued to soldiers, such as the classic last design, rubber soles and leather uppers. Tactical combat boots are made with lots of safety features and comfort features that create a good fit.

When you want footwear, why not go to one of the biggest names in the industry? Nike has a surprisingly good selection of tactical combat boots that have all the good looks and features you want in a pair of military boots. Nike’s boots come in a range of colors as well, so you can shop here for combat boots for all sorts of different outfits. Nike is known for creating performance footwear and that includes great combat boot styles as well.

Combat Boots Outfit Ideas

There are lots of ways to style combat boots and create great looking outfit ideas. Start experimenting with different styles of combat boots and different types of outfits and start looking super trendy. Whether you want to try wearing combat boots with a black leather jacket, straight leg jeans, a blazer and skirt, an oversized sweater or your favorite dress, there are many ways to wear these boots as part of an eye-catching, highly fashionable outfit. Learn how to wear some basic combat boots tyles and soon, you’ll be putting together your own inspired looks. Who knows? After trying a few different outfits, you might break out a trench coat look or find just the right accessory to set off your new chunky combat boots.


Under Armour Men's Stellar Military and Tactical Boot, Black (001)/Black, 12

Look a little bit professional and still show a lot of personality by pairing combat boots with a vivid matching suit. Choose a suit in a great color that’s sure to catch the eye and finish the look with combat boots to show off your fashion sense. This is a very confident and head-turning look that shows you can be a little bit businesslike…but you also have an irreverence and a bit of a daring nature, too. Keep his look streamlined and simple and it will really deliver the message. This is not a perfect look for a conservative office environment or very important business meetings but it can strike just the right note for just the right occasion. As you get more comfortable with combat boot style, you’ll find all sorts of ways to wear them to make a great fashion statement, whether you’re wearing a great business suit or a pair of black jeans.

Flirty and Fun

ICHIGO Women’s Fashion Ankle Booties Causal 8-Eye Side Zipper Lace-up Combat Boots(Black 10)

Style a short dress with combat boots to create a fun, flirty look that is also a classic outfit. Baby doll dresses work perfectly with combat boots. This is a great way to put the focus on your legs and truly make your gams part of your overall style. Add a cute cross-body bag to really complete the look. This flirty, fun style is great for outdoor adventures, day dates, running errands and just about anything else you might want to do. Adopt the style for winter wear by adding a pair of warm leggings and topping the look with a jean jacket. With a thick lug sole on the boots, you’ll be ready to handle even icy winter terrain.

Hippie Trendy

Rothco 8'' GI Type Jungle Boot, Black, 9


Wear your combat boots with a maxi dress to create a fun hippie or boho-type look that combines delicate fashion and tough style in one outfit. The flowing, pretty silhouette of the maxi dress is a beautiful match for combat boots. This is a petty look with footwear that’s still capable of handling many tough tasks, which makes this a great outfit for spring and summer fun. Add a large, colorful necklace or earrings to enhance your boho look. The combination of a hippie-ish maxi dress against black leather combat boots creates really amazing contrast, which is a very effective style choice. Contrast is often a cornerstone of great fashion looks.

Sleek and Stylish

Bates Men's 8" Ultralite Tactical Sport Side Zip Military Boot, Black, 10 M US

Show off your combat boots with a pair of skinny jeans that hug your legs and show off all your lower body curves. This will make your combat boots stand out and help you create a sleek, stylish look. A blousy T-shirt or tank top will pair beautifully with jeans and boots. Complete the outfit with a cropped jacket for damp fall and spring weather. You will be sleek, stylish and ready for all sorts of afternoon and evening adventures, from going to the bar to running errands to meeting friends for a casual lunch. This is a really easy go-to look when you know you want to ear your combat boots and you’re not sure how to style them.

Summer Chic

FREE SOLDIER Men's Tactical Boots 8 Inches Lightweight Combat Boots Durable Suede Leather Military Work Boots Desert Boots (Tan, 10)

A pair of cutoff shorts and combat boots show that you’re ready for any type of summer adventure, from window shopping to having a picnic to flying a kite in the park. Finish this look with a tank top and a sleeveless button-up top and you will be ready for hiking, fishing and all sorts of other outdoor summer fun activities. This is a great casual look that’s cute but highly practical. You’ll stay cool and still look totally chic in the summer heat. Complete the outfit with a small purse for your essentials and a pair of sunglasses and you will truly be prepared to handle anything.

Tough and Sexy

Soda Women's Malia Combat Boot (Black (PU), numeric_7)

Slip into a pair of leather pants before you put on your combat boots to style a look that’s both tough and sexy. Black leather just oozes both these vibes and combat boots are definitely a great match for any leather pants. Complete the look with a leather or denim jacket and a tank top or T-shirt. This will give you sexy style that’s cool and tough. In this outfit, you can go hang out at a bar with friends or enjoy any evening activity. Pair this with some delicate silver or gold jewelry to balance out the look and soften it just a bit. You want to be sexy and tough but not so sexy and so tough that people are afraid to tell you how sexy-tough you look!

Vintage Cool

Dr. Martens Shoes Leona Boot, Black Vintage Smooth, 8 UK, Women's 10 US


Wear your combat boots with a pair of flared jeans and a crop top to create a cool, vintage look that is totally timeless and still always trendy. This style is a bit of a nod to the looks of the 1970s and 1980s that helped to make combat boots popular. Style it well and the outfit will look like vintage high fashion. Accessorize the outfit with a wide belt and a small purse or handbag in a matching color to really put it over the top and set off your style.


 Some of the world’s most glamorous women, such as model and fashion icon Irina Shayk, have been seen wearing combat boot outfits. Many high fashion designers have drawn inspiration from military styles. Combat boots are not just mainstream, they are high fashion and highly stylish. Designers and fashion brands such as Sam Edelman, Doc Marten and Steve Madden have created boot styles inspired by the military. Even military boots are high fashion, especially when you style them with great outfit ideas.

Combat boots and shorts

So if you’ve still got questions about how to style combat boots, no problem. We’ve got the answers to the most frequently asked questions about combat boot outfits, so we’ve got you covered on staying up to date with this fashion trend. Soon, you’ll become your own fashion icon and be the one who inspires others.

When can you wear combat boots?

When is it okay to wear combat boots? Can you wear them in the summertime? Combat boots are actually a great choice in all types of weather, even summer heat. Actual military boots are worn in the hottest of conditions and the most inhospitable environments. Many styles are designed to take on hot weather and keep your feet cool even in the worst summer conditions. Desert boots, lightweight combat boots and other styles made for hot weather are perfect even on the hottest summer day. The military uses jungle boots for the hottest conditions. Search for these styles and you’ll have a great selection of summer-friendly combat boots to wear.

However, you can’t wear combat boots all the time to every single occasion. Events that can be considered more semi-formal or formal, as well as professional events, don’t typically work well with combat boots. You can often make them work as a high fashion look but it can be a little tricky to pull off combat boots for semi-formal and formal events that are more conservative in nature, such as a high end wedding. Make your style polished enough, however, and you can make this work. Remember that fashion is fluid. It’s supposed to be daring and you’re supposed to break the rules so don’t be too afraid to experiment. When you want to make a fashion splash, combat boots are a really good way to do it. Always wear your fashion with confidence and you definitely won’t go wrong.

Can you wear combat boots to work?

 Is it okay to wear combat boots for a work environment? The question isn’t always so easy to answer. Wearing combat boots to work isn’t a good idea for everyone all the time. If you work in a professional, conservative office setting, leave the combat boots in the closet. These boots will work for a business casual setting, however. If your workplace allows blue jeans, you can wear combat boots. Otherwise, you’re probably expected to adhere to a more strict dress code. When in doubt about your work dress code, just ask.

If you’re in a more industrial or warehouse work environment, you may be able to substitute combat boots for more standard work boots. However, these environments often have strict dress codes in regard to boots. Talk to your supervisor about the types of boots you can wear to work to make sure you’re adhering to all safety standards.

What socks should you wear with combat boots?

You have all sorts of sock options when it comes to wearing combat boots. Boot socks are ideally suited for wearing with boots of all kinds, including combat boot styles. They’re made in a thicker design to keep feet warm and cushioned and to provide shock-absorption around every step. But you can also have some fun with your socks and experiment with different styles and colors to complete your outfit ideas in a number of different ways.

Try a pair of socks with ankle detailing or cuff detailing that will stick up over the top of the boots to add a fun little addition to your combat boot outfits. Wear decorative socks with a detailed pattern, a vivid color or a see-through mesh design with low-cut combat boot styles when you know your socks could be seen. To really make a sock statement, you can always pair your combat boots with tall tube socks in a color ro design to match your outfit. And when you don’t want your socks to be a focal point, you can always stick to basic black. Socks are a great way to add a little pop of style to any look and they’re a pretty affordable piece of fashion, so go ahead and have fun experimenting with them.

Do you tuck jeans into combat boots?

Whether or not to tuck jeans into combat boots is practically an age-old fashion question, at this point. There are several good reasons why you might want to tuck. First, this is how soldiers do it when they’re wearing combat boots. Soldiers wear their uniform pants tucked into combat boots as a standard practice. That’s a pretty good endorsement for tucking pants into boots. This is also how many cowboys and people who spend a lot of time outdoors wear their boots and jeans together. By tucking the jeans into the boots, you eliminate a gap in your clothing that otherwise, insects like ticks may use to access your skin. Tucking also creates a smooth transition from leg to boot and can create the illusion of skinny jeans even if you aren’t wearing them.

However, many fashionistas say don’t tuck because it looks tacky. Some stylish experts swear by the simple rule of never tucking pants into boots. It’s a look associated with pirates and with old-fashioned style, so you can see their point. However, there is a happy medium. Instead of tucking pants into the boots, you can always cuff your jeans so that the bottom of the cuff rests just above the top of the boots. This is a cute look that works very well with combat boots. It also creates the sleek, streamlined look you get with tucking…but without the tucking. In other words, it’s the best of both style worlds.

Can you work out in combat boots?

Soldiers in the army wear combat boots even during training, which means they’re wearing them even while testing all of their physical skills. Doesn’t that mean that you can wear combat boots while working out? Actually, no. Though combat boots are made to give feet support and shock-resistance and cushioning, all things you want when you’re selecting a workout shoe, these shoes are not made for mobility. Combat boots are going to restrict ankle movement and don’t provide the right type of support that your body requires when you’re lifting weights, for example. They are not supportive and flexible on running feet, either. 

In short, combat boots are not meant to be workout boots. While they do provide support, combat boots are more ideally suited to standing and walking than activities that require a lot of foot flex and mobility and support. Stick to sneakers and tennis shoes that are designed for workouts and leave the combat boots in the closet until you’re going outdoors or you need to make a certain style statement. Wearing combat boots during a workout can actually harm your feet and affect the way your body moves.

Can you wear combat boots with a dress? 

What bout wearing combat boots with a dress? This is actually a great look though at first, it may seem like an odd pairing. Many of the world’s most fashionable women pair their pretty dresses with combat boots to create a look that’s highly fashionable, really on trend and a little bit rough around the edges. After all, combat boots are so much more comfortable than high heels! Wearing them can be a great look if you style your outfit around the boots and the dress. After all, it’s true that opposites attract even in fashion. 

It’s hard to go wrong with combat boots and dresses. Try a silky slip dress or a floaty tulle dress to pair really delicate styles against the more stern look of the combat boots and you’ll love how the items play against each other to create a look that’s girly and feminine but fashion-forward and severely stylish. Try wearing combat boots with different types of dresses and you’ll see how well this all works together.

Where can you buy combat boots?

There are lots of different places to buy combat boots. Since these boot styles have gone high fashion you can usually find a pretty good selection of military boot designs that are inspired by combat boots through all the hot designer and department store websites. But if you’re looking for the real deal, stop at a military surplus store. These stores have new, surplus boots that have all the tactical features of the military boots that soldiers wear in the field. There are many ways to find real combat boots and boot styles that have been inspired by military fashion. Start shopping around for these boots and you’ll start to see them everywhere ad you’ll begin to see how fashion designers use military inspiration everywhere in footwear designs.

Once you know where to buy combat boots, you can keep these boots in your wardrobe and keep styling different looks around them to come up with new ideas. Combat boots are a fashion staple and a classic footwear choice that aren’t going to be out of style any time soon. All the hottest celebs, from Kourtney Kardashian to the hippest music stars, have helped to make combat boots a fashionable choice that looks good with all sorts of different outfit ideas. Continue playing around with fashion looks and keep on having fun with fashion. After all, that’s exactly what style is all about.

Can anyone wear combat boots?

You don’t have to be former military or military adjacent in order to wear combat boots. These boots have broken out of military wear and become a part of pop culture, as have many other fashion items. The classic pea coat is just one piece of fashion that started out as a military garment. It’s totally okay to wear combat boots even if you’ve always been a civilian and you’re always going to be a civilian.

When sports stars and Hollywood types wear combat boots, it’s okay for everyone else to wear them as a fashion choice, too. After all, who knows more about maintaining healthy feet than the military? Combat boot designs have been honed and refined and adapted over the years to create great support, cushioning and a very distinct style. That’s something that everyone can enjoy and it’s something that everyone should get to enjoy. So start styling your combat boots however you like and start having fun with this fashion option. 


Extreme Outfitters – The Amazing History of Combat Boots

Filson – Boots on the Ground: the History of the Combat Boot

TexasMonthly – The Texanist: Should I Tuck My Jeans Into My Boots?

WhoWhatWear – 15 Ways to Wear Socks With Boots This Winter

WhoWhatWear – I’m Obsessed With Combat Boots—Here Are 11 Ways I Plan on Styling Them This Fall

WikiHow – How to Tuck Jeans Into Boots