Not quite sure how this utilitarian footwear trend translates for spring? Take one look at the Nicholas K S/S 11 show and we promise you'll be convinced otherwise. For this urban-military-influenced collection, designer Nicholas Kunz punctuated her streetwise looks--think: lightweight parka jackets over slouchy dresses and tapered khakis--with rich chocolate brown leather combat boots. In the look featured above, Kunz styled the feminine and leg-baring silhouette of the Rogue Dress ($243, 213.365.1872) in Slate Heather with more masculine pieces, like the Cullen Trench ($441) in Moss, boots by the Vintage Shoe Company, and Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, reinforcing the collection's tough-girl attitude. The resulting ensemble is refreshingly sober and quite cool--definitely a contrast to the season's many ultra-bright styles and disco-fantasy looks.
In addition to Kunz's noteworthy spring collection, today's featured ladies also demonstrate top-tier ways to work this footwear trend. Take, for example, Agyness Deyn. The stylish model was snapped leaving the launch party for NAAG.com--an online magazine helmed by Deyn and a few of her friends--in London late last year sporting the iconic Dr. Martens Carey 8 Eye Boots ($120) in Cherry Red Classic, which she masterfully paired with an ASOS denim jumpsuit. We love the way the indigo one-piece and navy blazer reflect Deyn's punk-tomboy sensibilities, while further accentuating the tough look of her boots. Back in the States, Isabel Lucas also opted for a similarly boyish shoe choice; she was photographed wearing a worn-in pair of combat boots while out and about in Los Feliz back in December. We like that the gorgeous actress showed off her brown boots with cuffed jeans, which she paired with a leather jacket and a bowler hat to create an effortlessly cool ensemble.
Of course combat boots aren't only for the androgynous dressers out there! They also serve as an excellent way accent to more ladylike pieces; just be sure to look to Kate Bosworth and Fearne Cotton for smart styling ideas. As Bosworth shows us, these boots can add an unexpected element of edge to a sleek pencil skirt. Spotted arriving at LAX earlier this month, the tastemaker wore Juicy Couture's Sherpa Denim Bomber Jacket ($298) with an Opening Ceremony skirt, private label Barneys New York boots (sadly, from a few seasons ago), and Alexander Wang's Rocco Baby Duffle Bag ($775, available here in black). A few months earlier, Cotton also used a pair of combat boots in contrast with her feminine and body-conscious pieces. Snapped en route to the BBC 1 Studios, Cotton wore a vintage black coat with Meg Matthews for Liberty's Darkest Gray Russian Doll Stripe Border Scarf ($187), a white vintage fur hat, and Cat boots. We like the way she styled her boots over a pair of dark slim jeans, as it gives her final look a subtle utilitarian finish.
Now that you're familiar with how the runways and celebs are making this accessory trend noteworthy anew, it's time to peruse our selection of must-buy combat boots! For those timeless lace-up styles, we suggest checking out Steve Madden's Troopa Boots ($100), which come in black leather, cognac, and natural, or Aldo's Barberis Boots ($120); both pairs would look great styled over a slim pant a la Cotton or with a flowy floral dress for a grunge-inspired spring look! However, if you're prefer Lucas' worn-in look instead, try River Island's Alise Engineer Boots ($117), Free People's Combat Boots ($198), or The Vintage Shoe Company's Molly Jump Boots ($295)--they'd look amazing worn with cuffed jeans and a tee for a casual daytime ensemble.
Of course if you're looking for options to wear with your dressier pieces, we have a few of those too! We're quite obsessed with See by Chloe's Derby Lace-Up Leather Boots ($415), which are certainly worth the investment. Just follow Bosworth's lead, and try them with a sleek pencil skirt to add a touch of androgyny to an otherwise classically feminine piece. We're also smitten with Dirty Laundry's Z-Riveted Ankle Boots ($70), which offer a tough look, thanks to the gold-studded detailing on the straps. Finally, LD Tuttle's The Gather Boots ($298) are a delightful gray iteration that will give your look an undeniably cool yet chic finish.--Jessica Baker
Photo of Isabel Lucas, courtesy of X17; Photos of Kate Bosworth and Fearne Cotton, courtesy of Splash; Photo of Agyness Deyn, courtesy of Pacific Coast News