A few weeks back while I was writing my post about chunky cardigans, I stumbled upon the above photo of Steve McQueen, which has come to redefine my notion of “the quintessential fall outfit.” At first glance it’s nothing more than a simple navy cardigan and khakis, yet it’s McQueen’s chocolate suede chukkas that have this shot so memorable to me. The search for a pair of fall boots can be a struggle. On one end of the spectrum sits the lot of burnt red workwear boots that everyone seemed to pick up in the fall of ’09, while on the other we have more formal dress boots that evoke connotations of British imperialism and Downton Abbey Halloween costumes. Then of course, positioned squarely in the middle are Clarks Desert Boots, a reliable yet all too predictable route that seem to be an essential item for any teenager kid’s “menswear” starting kit these days.
Which is why this shot of McQueen has stuck with me these past couple of weeks. McQueen’s signature Playboy boots (marked by their thicker sole) tap into exactly what I’ve been looking for. In contrast to a lot of workwear boots that come off as heavy handed and clunky, McQueen’s chukkas blend in nicely to the rest of his fit. Yet, the chocolate suede color (both it’s dark and milk varieties) has that sharp edge to it, just noticeable enough to continue the clean lines without coming off as too plain. What draws me most to chocolate suede though is that it’s a daily answer to my boot conundrum. With the overzealous layering the early fall seems to spur it becomes all too easy to look straight out of an old Tommy Hilfiger catalog. But take it from McQueen, a pair of chocolate chukkas can ground things a bit, providing a much needed break from the norm.