Chukka boots are a versatile type of footwear that can be worn in a variety of settings.
They can be dressed up, dressed down, and worn with a plethora of different outfit choices.
The term "chukkas" or "chukka boot" is often misused, and chukkas are very commonly mixed up with the incredibly popular desert boot - which is similar, but not exactly the same as a chukka.
This post will explore what chukka boots are, starting with how the word is pronounced, giving a little explanation about what makes them different from desert boots, as well as touching on a quick history, and how to wear them/use them in your wardrobe.
How Do You Pronounce “Chukka”?
The word "chukka" is a two-syllable word with a first syllable that sounds exactly like "chuck," and a second syllable that is the sound "kaa."
The word "chukka" rhymes with the word "yucca."
It is correct to say "chukka," "chukkas," and "chukka boot"
What Are Chukka Boots?
Chukka boots are a type of ankle-high boot that typically features two or three eyelets laces.
They are generally made from suede or leather, and are perfect for both casual and dressy settings.
How Are Chukka Boots Styled?
Chukka boots usually come in two eyelet form, but also can be found in 3 and 4 eyelet form, although with more than two, the shoes can look unbalanced and ‘fussy’.
Chukka Boots vs Desert Boots: Are They the Same? How Are They Different?
Chukka boots are not the same thing as desert boots, although the two terms are often used interchangeably by those who aren't aware of the differences.
Desert boots are traditionally unlined and unstructured usually with plantation crepe soles.
Here's an image of our Type 01 Desert Boot so you can have a visual:
Chukka boots, on the other hand, are usually more structured.
They may be leather lined, and often have leather soles, or commando soles, as well as the usual crepe soles.
Here's an example of our Playtime Chukkas for a visual:
Chukka boots usually feel more sturdy than desert boots which are more lightweight.
It's important to note that many manufacturers confuse the terms "desert boot" and "chukka boot" to this day. This definitely adds to the confusion and uncertainty.
We'll be writing up a much more thorough blog post on the differences between desert boots and chukka boots in a later article, and when we have it up, we'll link to it here.
A Quick History of Chukka Boots
Chukka boots were originally designed for polo players in the 1940s.
The time sections of a polo match are called a ‘chukka,’ which is of course where the boot style gets it's name.
The boots were meant to be worn on horseback to provide more ankle support and sit more comfortably in stirrups.
So as with much of fashion - the popular chukka boot was created to solve a very practical problem.
After their inital creation as a sportswear boot for polo players, to quote a 1939 edition of Esquire Magazine: "[Chukka boots] began to be sported for off field activities" and "used by Indian Maharajahs, unlined and one of the most comfortable shoes known to man."
Soon, Chukka boots became popular away from the polo field among civilians.
They've been a wardrobe staple ever since.
Esquire Magazine was writing about chukka boots being the "in" thing worn by the well-heeled for the season from which time they quickly became a staple.
They became popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and are included in illustrations within the pages of several 1930s editions of Esquire.
Interstingly enough, these incredible illustrations actually feature our Hutton Playtime chukka boots.
Have a peek at some of these vintage Esquire Magazine pages here:
Needless to say, we at Hutton are unbelieveably proud to have been a part of this historical popularization of the chukka style boot.
Are Chukka Boots Considered Formal or Casual Shoes?
As we’ve seen, once upon a time, the chukka was a sports shoe.
Then the chukka became country-wear before heading into ‘town’ in the 1950s onward.
These days, chukka boots can be worn super casual or even with formal attire.
Usually suede chukkas are considered best for more casual looks, but chukkas - especially those made out of leather - should not be written off for formal looks.
James Bond's iconic styling is certainly a testament to that!
What Can You Wear With Chukka Boots?
Chukka boots can be styled with chinos, jeans, or any kind of casual pants like cords.
Off-white jeans with chukka boots was a big thing in the 1950s and 60s.
But there are really no limits with chukka boots. These days you can even wear your chukkas with shorts!
What Season Are Chukka Boots Typically Worn? Can You Wear Them in Summer? In Winter?
Chukka boots can be worn all year around, but they come into their own in fall and winter.
If you have suede chukka boots - don't worry too much about the weather damaging the suede.
These days all high quality suede (like the suede on our Hutton Playtime chukkas) is pre treated with water repellent to allow your boots to get wet, air dry, naturally with stuffed newspaper inside, and brush up.