Doc Martens: Off-Duty-Model Look Style Guide for Women

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A woman wearing doc martens boots with jeans with smiley face patches

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Last Updated on July 17, 2021

Dr. Martens is a brand of footwear, commonly known as Doc Martens, are the epitome of young and cool British footwear. You probably instantly associate them with effortless street style or as a model-off-duty staple, and with good reason!

Top models like Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, Hailey Bieber, Gigi and Bella Hadid certainly love them for their youthful appeal, especially paired with iconic 90s pieces like crop tops and cargo trousers.

It’s no secret many celebrities can’t get enough of these chunky boots either!

Doc Martens were created by Klaus Märtens, a doctor in the German army, during World War II. Things didn’t really take off for him as a shoe designer until he met up with an old friend, Herbert Funck, who got him into using discarded rubber shaped by molds as soles. Soon, they were the go-to symbol of the London punk scene, loved by the working-class and skinheads alike. 

Nowadays, they are easily recognizable because of their air cushioned soles, or AirWair soles, and their welted, high construction with top-notch yellow stitching. Can’t wait to get all the tidbits on how to style them and get that off-duty model vibe? Read on for all the tips!

With shorts

Pairing up Doc Martens with shorts is the perfect solution for that weird moment when the seasons are changing and you feel like keeping your feet toasty. 

Any type of shorts will look great and showcase your legs with these boots, but in order to achieve that lowkey and effortless rocky vibe, go for denim-cut shorts with rough edges or a weathered look. High-waisted shorts also work wonders on your booty and accentuate your curves, perfect for relaxed streetwear! 

Add a little personal charm with your favorite band or graphic tee and up your game with sporty socks peeking over. Yes, you heard that right! Socks are super trendy right now and they can instantly take your look from old-school to edgy.

With dresses

Are floral dresses too girly for you? Puffer sleeves and flower prints can feel a bit too much like cottagecore now that the trend is everywhere. Not that there is nothing wrong with prairie dresses, but they can sometimes feel too sweet. Add a little badass flair by pairing your Docs with dresses that bring out your feminine side and flaunt your boss-lady style at the same time.

When you add elements that offer a little contrast to your look, like say a pair of black leather, classic Dr. Martens with a 90s slip dress in a silky fabric, you are adding interest and layering textures to make the ensemble your own. Try the iconic white t-shirt underneath the slip dress for a little retro vibe too! We are absolute fans!

Agyness Dean Doc Martens Quote

With skirts

Nothing says kicks a behind like wearing Doc Martens with a punk-original plaid miniskirt. It is the ultimate combination that was literally birthed on the streets of London. Do not let the weather discourage you either, an easy way to pull this look during winter is to add black tights, a turtleneck sweater, and a warm bucket hat or beret!

Another great option is to pair up your combat boots with a long skirt for some added flair. There are plenty of 90s staples to choose from for the top: a cropped cardigan, a brushed crop top, or a fuzzy t-shirt. 

Oh, quick tip! If you want to avoid touching the sidewalk with your clothing, you can opt for platform boots to gain some distance or go for a midi skirt. Either way, this is an absolutely astounding look that is sure to gain you a ton of compliments wherever you go. 

Read: 11 Top Punk Clothing Brands that Defines the Subculture

With jeans

Skinny jeans

Skinny jeans might be on their way out of your closet (at least that is what trendsetter magazines like Vogue and InStyle claim), but we refuse to let them go without a fight! They are so easy to pair up and they make your legs look amazing, too! 

It is no wonder that skinny jeans and combat boots would be a match made in heaven. Just look at Miley, rocking her indigo blue skinny jeans with lace-up Doc Martens black boots, a grunge t-shirt, and an army-style shirt. Comfortable, put-together, and stylish enough to go shopping, hit the supermarket, or go visiting friends.

Cuffed jeans

There is an inherent toughness to Doc Martens boots that makes you feel amazing when you wear them… Like you can conquer the world (which you certainly can with or without them!). Be it weathered or ripped, mom jeans or straight jeans, they all tend to run a bit long, so they are the perfect candidate to be cuffed and showcase your shiny lug-soled boots.  

For an informal, relaxed, and ultimately comfortable ensemble, you can pair your jeans with a loose sweatshirt. Lavender, mint, and cream colors are all trending right now amongst athleisure and activewear, so go for the shade that looks best on you and either tuck their front hem in or let them flop about.

With a suit

If you lean towards a more formal style, do not fret. Doc Martens can also look smart when paired with a suit! Go minimal and keep it all in one color or flaunt your creative flair with say… a striped pink suit? There are literally no bad choices as long as you keep both your pants and jacket matching!

Your top can also help you spice things up or turn it down a notch. If you go with a formal shirt, it can add a certain seriousness to the look, whereas an informal top, like a cropped tee, will de-structure the ensemble and feel more playful. 

Street style

Street style is very hard to define, but ultimately it is all about feeling comfortable and showing your fashion sense in a way that feels empowering and relaxed. For a casual but kickass look, you can opt for military trousers or joggers and pair them with loose or fluffy sweaters. 

Khaki, army green, black and grey are the most sought-after colors for streetwear because of their durability and resilience. However, adding white or another softer color near the face softens the facial structure and adds a delicate touch that is reinforced by the faux fur. This ensemble is the ultimate combination of hard and soft elements. Totally off-duty-model worthy!  

Business casual

Business casual can seem like a very elusive and ambiguous concept, but the truth is, it is not as hard as it seems and it has evolved a lot in recent years. 

Nowadays in a casual setting, you can go for pretty much anything that looks put together and you will pass muster. Especially if you are sporting a stylish option like this polka dot dress with a cowboy belt. The trick to this look lies in keeping it balanced!

In this case, the boots keep it casual while the dress and handbag add elegance and keep it business-ready. One of the best qualities of Doc Martens, apart from how durable they are, is how easily you can add them to almost any look. Throw them together with a dress, a slick suit, straight pants, or a romantic skirt, and you are set to go!

For Spring

In-between seasons can really complicate things when you are dressing with a whole day of activities ahead. Chances are you will be either hot, cold, or both intermittently throughout your day, making it paramount that you layer up. 

A leather jacket or cardigan over an airy spring dress can solve most of those issues, while a pair of combat boots make your ensemble all-terrain-ready. Besides that, the natural properties of leather can really work in your favor.

It’s a material that naturally breathes while keeping you warm. Leather is also flexible, and it molds to your body the more you use it.

For Summer

Doc Martens are not the typical footwear that comes to mind for summer. However, in not-so-hot weather, they can really work in your favor if you keep things breathy and light on the rest of your outfit. 

Case in point, this green cotton matching set that is perfect to stroll around on a sunny day. The rubber sole will keep your feet protected and isolated from the heat of the cement and the softened leather won’t cause unnecessary chafing. 

For Fall

Fall can be another tricky time to put an ensemble together. However, if your feet are warm in a trusty pair of Doc Martens you can take some liberties, like going for a miniskirt with a cute cable knit sweater on top. 

Maroon lace boots will look particularly good with other typical autumnal colors like orange, bordeaux, mustard and ochre. Complete the look with a blazer in tweed, and you will have a British street style that draws inspiration from the colors all around you.

For Winter

Did we say that celebrities love their combat boots? The Kardashians have been known to wear them now and then, but Kourtney particularly loves her Docs open and unlaced. This particular look has a certain Matrix feel to it, with the retro sunglasses and the army green leather trousers.

You can put it together by combining your leather, faux leather or vinyl pants with your favorite winter sweater or cardi. The  two very different materials will complement each other and add interest to the composition resulting in a city-chic minimalist combo that looks flattering no matter your age. 

Black Doc Martens:

There is no other color that is as popular today and as loved by all as black. It almost seems ridiculous how much of a depressing reputation it had due to its association with mourning throughout history. 

It stands to reason that the most classic Doc Martens model was birthed in black. It is, after all,  a color that is automatically thought of as elegant, classic and stylish. Plus, it can be easily combined with any other color or print successfully. 

If you are thinking of getting just one pair of Docs, black is the way to go. You will get the most mileage out of your footwear that way and find it easier to combine with most of your clothing items.

Maroon Doc Martens:

There are multiple shades of maroon, in truth, so chances are you won’t be able to match the precise shade of your boots in any other item in your wardrobe. The good news is, it is very easy to combine with other colors! 

It looks great with grey, white, military green, khaki, mustard, brown and of course, black. The trick here is to stick to colors that have the same amount of lightness or darkness in them, chances are they will blend great together.

Regarding how to use it, maroon is a bit more casual than black. So it makes sense that you use it in more unstructured and informal settings. Going for athleisure clothing also works great with maroon Doc Martens. Keep the ensemble structured with a long trench if you want to avoid it looking too frumpy.

White Doc Martens:

It might seem a weird choice to go for white Docs. It is certainly one of the less durable models of Doc Martens if your aim is to keep them pristine, but if you embrace their scruffy look they are an amazing option!

After all, there is no denying how good they look, especially so when paired with another item in the same color, like Gigi’s crop sweatshirt. The color makes them look somewhat softer than their black and maroon counterparts, which also allows for less extreme combinations and a more subtle and subdued look.

Since Docs are one of the comfiest and best looking combat boots out there, it is only logical that many women prefer them. They are easily matched too, as we have proved with our many options! And there is literally no situation that you cannot tackle with your trusty Docs. 

In truth, there might not be another type of footwear out there that makes you feel as powerful as your combat boots. They give you a sense that you can take on anything, whether you are wearing trousers or a skirt. It is almost like you are daring anyone to step on your toes… You know that rain or shine, your Docs have your back! 

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!