We are all about a Dr. Martens boot, and this iconic British shoe brand is loved by many. Bursting onto the British streets in the ’60s, Docs captured the attention of everyone from police officers to punk rockers with their distinctive style, robust construction and characteristic features. Distinguished by air-cushioned soles (dubbed Bouncing Soles), a welted construction and vivid yellow stitching. Dr. Martens not only produce its famous boots, but has dipped their toe into other product waters too (their handbags are also one of our favourites).
But when it comes to knowing what size, how to clean and break them in, where do you start? Our complete Dr. Martens guide is bursting to the brim with expert advice on how to take care of these statement boots, so scroll on…
The history of Dr. Martens
The Dr. Martens boot has a long history of rebellious self-expression; now seen as a representation of modern culture and individual attitude, Dr. Martens haven’t always been such an iconic street-style mainstay.
Created from tradition and authenticity over a century ago in 1901 by the Griggs family, these originally utilitarian work boots had a reputation for durability and comfort. Post-war Munich saw the shoes get their unique air-cushioned sole, developed by Dr. Klaus Maertens, who later became a partner with the Griggs’s.
By the ‘60s, the shoes had been gifted a whole host of innovative features, just in time for a period of change which encouraged new social norms, subcultural freedom and extravagant ideas. Dr. Martens boots became a celebration of working-class pride and self-expression among British youth who became segmented in various tribes – with new music genres such as nu-metal and Britpop at their core.
Dr. Martens have continued to welcome distinctive styling with open arms ever since and music has become part of the brand’s heartbeat.
Who owns Dr. Martens now and where are they made?
Dr. Martens is currently owned by UK-based investment firm, Permira, who bought the company off the R Griggs Group back in 2013.
These proudly British boots started their journey on Cobbs Lane in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, and as of today, 50 skilled workers in this very factory still make its Made in England collection, as well as vintage pairs and brand collaborations. The factory makes 100,000 shoes a year which may seem like a lot, but this only accounts for 1% of the pairs made as a whole – the other 99% are made in Asia.
How much are Doc Martens and what are they made of?
These high-quality shoes, sandals or boots start at £39.99 for junior and youth sizes, while adult fits range between £89 and £209. But boy are they worth every penny!
Dr. Martens are built to be able to conquer any conditions thrown at them and are made from premium Carpathian leather. This full-grain leather is extremely durable yet soft, making it the perfect choice for a pair of hardy Docs. The famous soles are made from an organic rubber that is oil and fat resistant.
“What about vegan Dr. Martens?” we hear you ask. The vegan-friendly range is made from a synthetic material called ‘Cambridge Brush’ which is made to have the same finish as the originals, but is just as tough. So you can look and feel great, whatever range you choose.
Size guide: What size Dr. Martens should I get?
When it comes to Doc Martens sizing, it’s key to know that they’re a chunky style of shoe and size can differ depending on the design. For example, the fit of a women’s style may have a narrower width than a men’s style in the same size – but sizing up will change the length of the shoe, not the width.
Bear in mind that whole sizes are mainly available (with the exception of some half sizes in the UK), so if you do find yourself stuck between sizes, we’d recommend dropping down to the nearest one. Dr. Martens are true to size, however we always suggest trying any shoe on in-store and getting advice from one of our experts as all shoe cuts vary on the shape and size of your foot.
How tight should Dr. Martens be?
Your boots should feel very snug out of the box, but not uncomfortable! Typically, you should have about a quarter of an inch (6mm) of length passed your toes. Boots will stretch and soften when worn in, but if they feel too tight when you try them on, they’re too small and you need to size up.
Reference our handy Dr. Martens size charts for men, women and kids below to find your size.
How to spot fake Dr. Martens
Knowing how to tell if Dr. Martens are real can be far easier than you think. Your first indicator are the logos on the shoes and the packaging – check font size and placement, as well as any typos. Check that the size and product code information printed on the inside of the shoe matches the white label on the box.
One of the most important things to look at are the soles. Real Dr. Martens boots feature unique brand markings embossed onto the outsole, so make sure that the edges are clean and finished. The iconic yellow stitching should be immaculately finished, with identical stitches running neatly in a straight line.
Want to avoid this task? Shop Dr. Martens directly from our website or in our stores, and we assure you we sell the originals.
How to break in Doc Martens and how long does it take?
When you purchase a new pair of Docs, you’ll find that there is a considerable “wear in” period where the boots soften and stretch out – unfortunately this doesn’t happen overnight, and can take between three to six weeks depending on materials used & leather thickness.
During this time, it’s best to only wear your boots for short outings until they become comfy & moulded to the shape of your foot. Here are our top tips for breaking in Doc Martens quickly:
1. Wear thick cotton socks (or winter socks) during the initial wearing in period – these will protect your feet and encourage the leather to soften more quickly.
2. Wearing your laces tight can prevent rubbing and will help the boot to mould to the shape of your foot.
3. Use a softening agent to nourish and break in the leather, such as Martens Wonder Balsam.
4. Try a boot stretcher for the toe area over the course of a few nights.
5. Gently bend your boots to ease areas of stiffness such as the instep.
6. Moleskin, corn plasters or bunion pads might come in useful where the boot fits too narrowly.
How to lace Doc Martens
Lacing up your boots correctly is an important task, so it’s key to start by knowing how long your Doc Martens laces are. They should be roughly be 140cm – this length of lace will fit 8-eye to 10-eye boots, but all boots you buy come with the correct length of lacing.
Straight-lacing is a popular technique to tie for 3-eye, 8-eye and 10-eye Docs, the steps of which are laid out below:
1. Run both ends of a lace through the bottom eyelets (outside to inside) and pull straight across. Make sure you have the same amount of lace on each side.
2. Taking one end of the lace, skip one eyelet and thread upwards and out of the next.
3. Pull the lace straight across to the other side and into the matching eyelet.
4. Repeat this process until you get to the second eyelet from the top (an 8-eye boot).
5. Pull this lace straight across to the other side and into the corresponding eyelet, before pulling upwards and out of the final eyelet at the top.
6. Take the other end of the lace and thread up and out of the eyelet directly above – not skipping an eyelet this time.
7. Pull this straight across to the other side of the boot and into the hole.
8. Skip one and come upwards and out of the next available eyelet, before pulling across to the other side and into the hole.
9. Repeat the process (skipping a hole, pulling upwards and straight across) until you get to the top of the boot.
10. Et voila! Repeat steps two to nine for the other boot.
How to clean & polish Doc Martens
If you’re looking to keep your boots in top shape, cleaning Dr. Martens is essential. Getting your hands on Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam, an equivalent leather conditioner or coloured polish that matches your boots will be great for keeping their shine and longevity. Follow these simple steps for how to easily clean and polish your Doc Martens:
1. Begin cleaning by unlacing your boots.
2. Gently brush off any loose dirt with a brush, making sure to do the soles too.
3. Wipe the surface of the boot with a damp cloth dipped in a warm water and mild soap solution.
4. To clean the iconic Dr. Martens yellow stitching, dip an old toothbrush into water before dipping again into baking soda. Gently scrub at the yellow stitching before wiping away any excess with a damp cloth.
5. Leave your boots to air-dry away from any heat sources before you start polishing.
Are Dr. Martens waterproof?
Dependant on the cut, shape and material, water resistance varies and although Dr. Martens are sturdy shoes, they are not water resistant. Dr. Martens do sell a range of fully waterproof footwear though, where you can rest assured that there will be no water damage (or soggy toes). The vegan collection is also waterproof too.
How to waterproof Doc Martens
Although these boots are known to withstand the muddy trenches of Glastonbury keeping up with your boot care should also avoid any harsh water damage. For original leather styles, the Dr. Martens Dubbin is a go-to product for Doc enthusiasts as the wax not only softens and conditions the leather, but it also waterproofs it.
For more delicate, fabric-covered boots, we’d recommend investing in a protective spray like Liquiproof to alleviate any water damage.
How long do Doc Martens last?
We do know that Dr. Martens are a worthy shoe investment; they are technically built to stand the test of time and are known to get better with each year of wear. Docs do take time to wear in, and once you’ve broken the rigid leather for everyday comfort, your boots should last many years (we have heard that some of our customers have worn their boots for over 10 years!)
Wondering how to look after your Doc Martens for years to come? Always make sure you regularly clean and take care of the leather. This involves using conditioner and polish to buff away scuffs and prevent the leather from drying and deteriorating. Avoid leaving your boots in harsh sunlight too, as UV rays can be damaging to leather.
Can you wear Dr. Martens in the summer?
Yes! One of our favourite qualities of the Dr. Martens is that they can be worn both in summer and winter. We love fashion spotting Dr Martens paired with denim shorts or flowing dresses at summer festivals and in winter, you cannot beat skinny jeans, a chunky jumper and your Docs.
What to wear with Dr. Martens
There are many ways you can wear your Dr. Marten boots and shoes and we’ve come up with a short cheat-sheet of style guidelines to give you inspiration:
1. Dr. Martens toughen a feminine look, so pairing your boots or shoes with floral fabrics and flowing shapes is great for achieving a modern bohemian look
2. Dr. Martens look great in winter with tights, skirts and thick cable-knit jumper
3. Go for a rock n’ roll look by pairing your boots with leather trousers and a cute cotton vest
4. Explore the new materials Dr. Martens are using, we love the velvet and suede textures out now
5. Keep it classic with skinny jeans and a white t-shirt; a look guaranteed to be on-trend no matter the year or season
Where to buy Dr. Martens
Overall, Dr. Martens are well worth the investment in our book. Not only are they loved by all, but their durability and forever-defiant design will last for as long as you have them. If you’re wondering where to grab yourself a pair, look no further. Shop the incredible selection of genuine Dr. Martens boots & shoes online or pop into your local OFFICE store to find yours.