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Are Dr. Marten Boots True To Size?

Are Dr. Marten Boots True To Size?

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I have been wanting some sort of black boot for a while now…something that was practical, easy to walk in, and of course good quality. I liked the Dr. Marten style, but never knew if I could pull it off. Since moving to LA, I decided I could indeed pull it off, so here we are, thanks to some Christmas money ;) To be honest, I never thought I’d wear them. Much like the Chavs made certain people not want to wear Burberry check, Skinheads* adopted Doc Martens as part of their uniform and became somewhat synonymous with the boot, causing turmoil for the brand; however, skinheads also wore white t-shirts and preferred Levi’s jeans… both of which are extremely popular to this day. Ultimately, I don’t think that it is necessarily a brand’s fault for who decided to wear them and I am excited to see Dr. Martens boots start to rise to popularity again. Read on to see how I may have miss-judged them and to understand their history!

*Skinheads were initially a multicultural group and not about race superiority. They went from inclusive in the 60’s to racist in the 70’s.


A little more history before I go into my actual boots though! They were created by Klaus Märtens, was in fact a German doctor during World War II. (“Doc Martens” makes sense!!) So yes, he was in the German army, but has not been noted as a Nazi sympathizer (I’m just glad judging souls is up to God) and actually created the boots, when he was on leave, due to an injury. The work boots they had during the war were uncomfortable anyway, but especially since he had injured his ankle. He decided to pump air (air wair!) into souls and make a more comfortable and functional boot, circa 1945!

Before I got into more detail, I just want to say that Puma and Adidas were also German products of WW II. Volkswagen was literally made at Hitler’s request, and they drove Mercedes Benz cars as well. My point is that just because a company started with that upbringing, does not mean that they still have those beliefs today. I would take them on a case by case basis. I do believe that the Holocaust happened and that it was horrible and we need to keep it from happening again.

Founded in 1947, after the war, Dr. Marten shoes soon became popular in Germany, which caught then eye of the British shoe company Griggs, which had been around since the early 1900’s. Together they created the 1460 boot which launched in 1960, and moved the company to England, where it is still based today. Because of how the Germans were seen at the time, when the brand moved, they removed the diaeresis (two dots over the “a”) in Martens, so it seemed more English and less German. Though the shoe brand has had its run in with different subcultures, they are very much seen as a British shoe today (not German), being worn by the likes of Elton John, The Who, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash.

Let’s fast forward to today, where we are very much seeing a rise of grunge trends again. Gigi Hadid has been credited with bringing Dr. Marten Boots back, which I’m sure private equity company Permira is thankful for, as they purchased the brand from Griggs for almost 4M back in 2013. Some say Docs are part of the ugly shoe trend that surfaced with the rise of the dad sneaker; however, I don’t actually find Dr. Marten boots ugly! I think they are super practical and somewhat chic. A classic! I think my favorite part about them is that they were made for comfort, because a lot of non-sneaker shoes are 100% made for looks. Here’s a breakdown of who wore them and when:

  • 1960’s: Mods (The 1460 boot launched in 1960! The Who, Elton John)

  • 1960’s - 1970’s: Skinheads (from multiculturalism, to right-winged racists)

  • 1970’s - 1980’s: Punks (Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, The Sex Pistols, The Clash)

  • 1980’s - 1990’s: Grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Marc Jacobs)

  • 1990’s - 2000’s: BritPop (Oasis, Radiohead, The Verve)

  • 2000’s - 2010’s: Almost filed for bankruptcy due to racist connotations, started “Stand for Something Campaign” in 2013

  • 2010’s - 2020’s: Rich and Famous (Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus, Millie Bobby Brown)

Fall 2019 runway trends predicted big, bulky boots, so chances are if you haven’t seen them yet, you’ll start seeing them come this winter, as it trickles down to the masses. Obviously Dr. Martens has always offered these, but are brands are taking note and you’ll be able to find other clunky boots in stores, if not already! Okay okay, I’ve talked enough. Here’s my thoughts on the boots I bought!

  • What I got: I went with the Leona boot, because I love a good platform. I think it makes them look a bit more fun and feminine; however, the 1460 is the original boot, which has only been “re-done” once, in 2016. I also considered the Jadon boot, which does have a platform, but is the traditional eyelet laces like the 1460. It also has a side zipper for easy on and off. In contrast the Leona is a lace-up style (not traditional eyelets), and does not have a side zipper.

  • What size I purchased: The short answer is that I bought an 8US/6UK and normally buy an 8.5. Most websites including DM’s say that they run large and to size down if you are a half size. Their site also lists the feet measurement in inches, if that is something you want to compare. It is true. Dr. Martens are clunky and big. That being said they are wide footed person’s dream! I wear a size 8.5 prettttty consistently and have a foot that is on the more narrow side. Since these don’t come in half sizes, for mid-sizers it can hard. I wear a size 8 and it is perfect. If you are a normal size, chances are it might feel a little loose, but if you have a medium or wide size foot, you should be good. You can also choose to wear a thicker sock to help too! I have been wearing regular thin socks and it has been fine. Because mine are true lace ups, they can easily be tightened, though I’m sure you could do this on all of their laced options. For another size reference, I do wear a size 8 in Uggs! (They don’t come in half sizes either. In Sorel boots I get my normal 8.5.)

  • Are they comfortable: YES. They were literally made for comfort and function. I would just recommend you wear tall socks with them. You don’t want your pant leg to rub weird and socks can help prevent blisters. I only had slight rubbing when I decided to wear them with leggings that had some mesh inserts. It could have easily been prevented had I worn longer socks. I did not have to break them in at all and have walked quite a bit in them, without my feed hurting.

  • Are they good quality: These babies were built for walking. They are great quality and are very durable. They used to offer lifetime protection on some styles, but has since removed. I can understand that, because honestly, people do some crazy stuff! Depending on where you buy them from, the return policy is pretty normal. I bought mine from Nordstrom and their policy is above average. DM’s website gives 30 days, but does have extended holiday return windows. One question I have seen asked a lot is if they are waterproof. DMs as a whole are not waterproof, though they do have fully waterproof options! I’m sure the boots could survive a splash here and there, but they will last longer if you don’t continually wear them in the rain, that’s for sure.

  • Are they versatile: Um, YES! Wear them with athleisure, jeans, and even dresses. It’s cool, I promise.

  • Are they worth the price: My Leona boots were $169.95 pre-tax. I had a gift card and a Nordstrom note to use, so I actually paid less than $100 for them. That being said, I would 100% pay full price for them! They are great quality and I think they could charge more for them. I am happy with the shoe to cost ratio and expect them to be a great purchase regarding cost per wear.

  • Are they ethical or sustainable: I mentioned that I was going to start sharing more of this aspect for 2020, so here we are. DM used to be produced solely in England, but though they still have a small line they produce there, the bulk made in Asia. Since I’ve worked closely with factories in my day jobs, I know that not all Asian factories are bad and I do understand that profit is harder to come by if you don’t produce there. Usually if something is made in England or made in the U.S. (not the only ones, just giving examples), it is easier to control how the factory workers are treated, paid etc. Brands aren’t required to say what factory, etc to the public, so it is hard to find out anything, except where they are made. Doc Martens do use a lot of leather, so while you might they aren’t sustainable in that way, I see that as a show that will last me pretty much forever if maintained properly. I keep things for years upon years, so I don’t see myself buying another combat boot style any time soon. They do have a vegan leather line, but keep in mind that a lot of “vegan leather” actually produces the same if not more waste than its animal bi-product counterpart. I also don’t think they last as long, based on some V leather boots I own. To answer the question, there are more ethical and sustainable shoe brands out there, but I consider this a “forever shoe” and that I’m doing my part in that sense.


This year (2020), Dr. Marten Boots turns 60! Though they have been through a rough patch here and there, I do think that with their air sole and signature yellow stitching, they deserve to go down in costume history as an icon! What are your thoughts? Any questions I didn’t answer? Happy to help!

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