I can vividly remember wearing my first pair of Dr. Martens to school, fresh out of the box. They were black patent leather lace-up boots, so stiff they squeaked as I walked up the stairs. But even with fuzzy slipper-socks underneath, my feet looked as though they'd seen combat by the time lunch hour rolled around.
Now, though, I consider myself a bit of an expert in Docs. A connoisseur, if you will. I didn't build up a collection of over a dozen pairs of boots by simply grinning through the pain for the sake of fashion. What I realized eventually was: Not all Docs are built the same — and the vegan boots might be the easiest Dr. Martens to break in. Boasting an array of styles, not only are the vegan Dr. Martens, by the company’s own account, slightly easier to break in, but they’re also made with zero traces of animal byproducts for a guilt-free combat boot wearing experience.
Still, like many of us, I have much to learn about the iconic platform boot. To get to the bottom (or sole) of the matter of Docs, NYLON talked to some fashion influencers and major Docs fans about their tips and tricks for breaking in Dr. Martens, as well as styling them.
How to Style Dr. Martens
Fashion creator Yuyan, who makes TikToks about different ways to put together outfits with Dr. Martens, says that she’s obsessed with every pair of Docs she owns, because they pair effortlessly with absolutely everything. “I got my first pair of Dr. Martens when I was going into college — I still have them and wear them now,” Yuyan tells NYLON. “They just make an outfit a little more edgy and interesting!”
According to Yuyan, her favorite way to style Docs is a classic: loose comfy jeans, a white tee, and a moto jacket, but you can also catch her wearing them with mini skirt and sweater vest combos. Out of all the pairs she owns, her favorites are the black “Jadon” platform boots and “8053” platform oxford shoes. “[They’re] so versatile and will last you for years,” she says.
As far as influencer Savanna Lowe is concerned, she tells NYLON she’s convinced there’s a way to make Dr. Martens work with any type of fashion aesthetic — be it ‘70s casual, minimalist, Y2K, romantic femme, streetwear, or punk. “Docs can be a great alternative to sneakers when styling streetwear ‘fits,” she says. “They’re also great for outdoor activities when sturdy footwear is needed.” In both warm and cold weather, Lowe considers her Docs a wardrobe staple.
Styles Of Vegan Dr. Martens
You heard it here: Not only can you acquire some Dr. Martens that are both trendy and leather-less, but they will also likely be the easiest pair of Docs you’ve ever broken in. The game-changer happened when I bought my first pair of vegan Dr. Martens. I had originally opted for the style because it was the only material my color-obsession-of-the-moment came in — dark cherry red. They look exactly the same as the real leather ones, only, as I soon found out, they required no effort or bloodshed to break in.
Lucky for Dr. Martens newbies, the vegan leather options have multiplied considerably since I started my collection. You can get your hands on a platform style, like Yuyan’s favorite “Jadon” style, if you're feeling a little bit edgier, or glossy if you’re opting for some glam. And there are more than just Dr. Martens vegan leather combat boots to choose from. The brand also offers vegan leather Chelsea boots, oxfords, and their iconic platform gladiator sandals.
While the price point of these boots can make the first-timer feel a bit hesitant, I should stress that my original cherry red boots are still in incredible shape after traversing the NYC streets for four years (and the halls of high school for two years prior). That's six years of solid use, and they're not getting retired from my collection anytime soon.
How To Break In Dr. Martens
In case you're really attached to real leather Dr. Martens (I know I haven't stopped buying them), here's a pro tip: Remove the inner sole while you're breaking them in, and it'll reduce the bloodshed by half.
As an avid, long-time wearer of Docs, Yuyan says it typically takes her around five times of wearing a new pair before they feel fully comfortable and stretched to fit her feet. Her advice? Wear thick socks, or even opt for the especially thick ones Dr. Martens sells. “I usually wear [the boots] with the Dr. Martens double socks for the first few weeks [after] getting a new pair,” she says. “They’re so worth it and make breaking them in so much easier.”
Not so interested in the break-in period? Check out some ultra-cool vegan offerings below, and head to the site to peep all the vegan options.
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