What’s Up, Doc?: Dr. Martens Are Your Forever BFF

Winter’s knell is a knockin’ and it’s time to get you something to keep your toes warm. There are a multitude of options out there, but I’m going to zero in on a style that has been kickin’ around since the 1950s. Dr. Martens are a surefire way to feel properly bad ass against the big, bad chilllllll of winter.

The first prototype of the now infamous 1460 boot came after Klaus Märtens, a German doctor suffered a skiing accident and needed a comfortable shoe. He fashioned a leather boot both sturdy and comfortable, with an air cushioned tyre sole. A few adjustments in fit (and an Anglicized name), the “AirWair” boots were on the market. First gaining popularity with working class postmen and factory workers, the boots soon took on an alternative bent. Punks, skinheads, some new wavers and other subcultures took the boots as their own. Dr Martens have always had an association with those who are rebellious, representing individuality and freedom. With popularity in the 1990s due to the widespread influence of grunge culture, it’s no surprise that current 90s nostalgia has sparked a resurgence of the combat boot.


Styling Your Docs

The most common and popular styles of Martens are the 1460 boot and the 1461 oxford.
The possibilities are damn near endless. Vegan leather, patent, cloth, patterned, neon there is a Doc for every taste and style. The beauty of this utilitarian boot is you can pair it with almost anything. Styled with a mini-dress and tights looks just as sweet as a heavy flannel coat and sleek black jeans. Bundle up with a big scarf and wool coat, or layer a midi skirt and a bomber jacket, the choice is yours.


Purchasing Some Docs

If you purchase these baddies new, they’ll run anywhere between $90-$200. If you are looking for a more inexpensive route, checking Etsy or Ebay could cut the price in half. Ebay often has new pairs, were as you can score broken in vintage pairs on Etsy. Local online marketplaces like Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook are also a viable option for a discounted pair.

doc marten shopping collage

clockwise from top left: Classic Black 1460, Patent 1460, White Monochrome 1461,
Classic Black 1461, Cherry Red 1460, Snakeskin 1460


If you are curious about more boots, see Aja’s guide for femme styles in 2015, Lizz’s Boots 101 or our Boot guide from last winter. How do you do your Docs?

Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.

45 Comments

  1. <3<3<3

    I wanted Doc Martens so badly when I was like 14 and completely obsessed with Joanne from RENT.

    Last Christmas my in-laws got me my first-ever pair and I have worn them for about 90% of 2015.

    Now you've inspired me to scour the Internet for a pair I can afford to buy myself!

    <3<3<3

  2. I’ve got the Cherry Red 1460s, I wanted them for like 18 months before I convinced myself I was badass enough to pull them off, and then my lovely brother bought me a new pair for xmas <3

    I want more though. Even though I definitely 100% do not need more, cannot afford more… they're so comfortable and so AWESOME.

  3. Omg this post just made me remember my dream last night. I used my rosey docs to like reflect light to start a fire but I ruined them. I woke up thinking they were still broken. This article made me realize they were not actually ruined….

  4. Docs! In junior high we all had those brown Doc Marten sandals. And when I say we all had them, I mean everyone.

    Sometimes I look back at childhood photos and go “wow, I dressed so gay, how did I not know?!” And then I look at pictures of my friends and classmates and realized that, 1996-2000, we ALL dressed like little lesbians. What a glorious time that was. So much flannel, so many caterpillar boots.

    • I remember getting Docs in junior high, wishing so much to be like all the other girls (and boys) who had them. I thought they were all the same, but bought myself a pair of those classic black ones, and showed up to 8th grade and EVERYONE HAD THE BROWN ONES AND SANDLES, and it was me and the one alternative dude with purple boots.

      I shoulda known I was wearing them for other reasons than just trying to fit in for fashion 😉

  5. I still have two pairs of Docs dating from 2000 (my feet haven’t grown since middle school) that I’ve kept in great shape. They’re not your standard looking Docs either. Of course, they’re made in England. The majority of Docs aren’t made in the UK now and the quality has really suffered. 🙁

  6. I bought my first pair a couple months ago, just “simple” black 1460s because I wanted something to go with everything. I wear them constantly, and love them dearly already. I bought them because I wanted to invest in something that would last me well, rather than continuously taking the $30 Target boots way and replacing constantly. Plus, after having to basically wear my bulky winter snow boots every day for three months in the beginning of the year because of Boston’s horrible snowy winter, I wanted something that would let me add some variety and not slip on patches of unexpected ice if it were to happen again.

  7. I’m on my second pair but I barely ever wear them. I am a solid size 9.5. The 9s are too tight and the 10s (which I’ve gone with both times) end up feeling loose and sloppy and slipping off my feet, which is why I never wear them. WHY NO HALF SIZES?!?

    • Firstly, congrats on the purchase, great choice. Secondly, I also bought mine in the Aus winter approx 6 months ago. I thought mine were slightly too big so I worse them with insoles for a few days and couldn’t stand it, they just weren’t comfortable. I took out the insoles and laced the boots up really tight and I haven’t had a problem since. Usually the most uncomfortable part is at the bottom of the laces which becomes more comfortable as the material stretches and molds. The break in process is worth it! If you want boots which require almost no break in I highly recommend a pair of RM Williams Craftsman boots.

  8. black doc oxfords have been my shoe staple since the mid 90s (and I am wearing them right now). my favourite pair were steel-toed and I got a little battery acid on them at work which made them look even more hardcore

    I’m also fondly remembering the many boots I had over the years, and a well-worn pair of red-brown mary janes

  9. I’ve had my Docs (classic black vegan 1460s) since 2011, and since 2013, boy, have I gotten a lot of mileage from them. I wear them with super thick hiking socks (even in the summer, when I can stand it!) since they’re the only shoes that are comfortable anymore! Literally, pairing them with leggings, minidresses, folksy dresses, and plenty of plaid have changed my style from whatever to badass. They’re the best! I always feel confident stepping anywhere, from puddles to snow banks to a chemistry lab in them, knowing that my feet will be safe, warm and comfortable. To boldly go where no sneaker has gone before… and survived.

  10. OK, so: How bad are these to break in? I hate shoes and I love the idea of just buying a pair of these that will last me forever, but I’m really scared about how long and painful a process it will be to make them wearably comfortable. Especially since they have such a thick sole and I usually wear thin soled, floppy shoes.

  11. I’m a big fan of doc martens but I have tiny little feet so I never thought I could have them because I assumed they didn’t come in my size, but I just checked their website and noticed they come in kid sizes. My entire life has changed.

  12. I just want to remind everyone to polish/oil/waterproof their docs (or other boots!) before wearing them all winter in wet sogginess, and to remember to clean and repeat regularly!

    i learned this the hard way and now the leather of my left boot (oddly not the right one as much?) has major cracks across where it bends when i walk (or jiggle my leg when sitting, which i do a lot). you don’t want major cracks in $120 boots (even if you did get a good deal somewhere)! rub some oils on there!

    happy slush season everybody 😛

  13. I wear my docs basically every day EXCEPT in winter. They are the slipperiest shoes ever on ice, beware! (I also live in a frozen Canadian prairie city but yeah…careful if it’s icy, it’s not even worth it).

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