June 18, 2020 at 08:00PM
Few fashion items have managed to transcend the trend cycle quite like the Clarks Original Desert Boot. Since Clarks first introduced the design into the fashion vernacular 70 years ago, the boot’s minimalist design and universal functionality have made it a closet staple for generation after generation. And today, the style’s enduring legacy and classic good looks are inspiring a fresh group of tastemakers.
To study the shoe’s timeless relevance and broad range, we tapped three editors to break down how they incorporate the original desert boot into their individual style. From retro references to contemporary twists, the unique perspectives of Andrea Zendejas, Kia Goosby, and Kathy Lee reveal why this classic boot is a forever style staple.
Accessories editor Andrea Zendejas attributes her of-the-moment approach to fashion to having a strong style muse growing up. “All my life, my mom has been an inspiration for my sisters and me. She has a great sense of style that’s so timeless, and I’ve really gravitated towards that,” says Zendejas.
And though she loves incorporating trends into her wardrobe, her favorites are classic items that are seeing a major comeback right now. “My mom had a leather coat from 25 years ago that she gave to me. I wear it all the time now, and everyone stops me to ask where I got it,” she says. It’s these vintage or vintage-inspired pieces that feel most relevant to her now.
As Zendejas can attest, the best outfit combinations are often the ones that pair statement items with minimal pieces. Pearl earrings featuring gold hardware, a longline leather blazer in a light caramel hue, white denim with a raw hem—all prime examples of Zendejas’ knack for channeling classic styles with a modern twist.
When it comes to the desert boot, Zendejas says it’s the style’s versatility that makes it the perfect partner for the season’s biggest trends. “The Clarks Original Desert Boot is such a classic and is something you can easily integrate in your closet,” the editor says, adding, “The boot allows anyone’s style to show through.”
Clarks boots, clarksusa.com; Nanushka jacket, shopbop.com; Veronica Beard top, neimanmarcus.com; Re/Done Originals jeans, revolve.com; Alighieri earrings, ssense.com; Ariel Gordon rings, arielgordon.com; editor’s own watch.
Having started her Elle career covering the denim market, editor Kia Goosby’s style is very much rooted in a love for fashion’s timelessly “in” pieces. Her approach to curating her everyday wardrobe focuses on items that are consistent yet empowering. “My personal style is about wearing the clothes, not letting them wear you,” says Goosby. “I like to wear things that I feel the most comfortable in.”
This fashion editor is a master at pulling references from all corners of the trend universe, past and present. From the mismatched denim set to her ’70s inspired shades, the resulting look is a mash-up of decade-specific trends that are both timeless and contemporary. Bookmark this outfit as a lesson in how anchoring your style in classic staples can provide you with a framework to play up statement pieces.
“We constantly see things come and go. It’s cool to see something as timeless as the desert boot influencing style today. The boot still feels fresh and like something that could have been made for this season. For styling pieces to have a long shelf-life, it needs to be something that doesn’t date itself.”
Clarks boots, clarksusa.com; Slvrlake jacket, mytheresa.com; Intimissimi turtleneck top, intimissimi.com; Slvrlake jeans, bergdorfgoodman.com; Completedworks earrings, completedworks.com; editor’s own sunglasses and rings.
Few have paid their dues to the fashion industry as well as Kathy Lee. Her robust resume has seen her scale the masthead at a handful of publications leading up to her current accessories director position. Evolving alongside her career has been her personal style, which she now defines as a balancing comfort, thoughtful trend investments, and feminine accents.
It’s the latter that gives her weekend-ready outfits a touch of retro edge. For Lee, it’s nostalgic references to the past that feels so timely today. As she points out, trends come and go, but the simplest designs breed versatility. “The thing about the desert boot is that it’s so classic. It really works with anything. It can work with jeans, and it can work with a vintage floral dress like the one that I’m wearing today.”
The desert boot has won a place in her wardrobe for the sheer fact that it’s remained unchanged, an essential factor when considering her affinity for vintage style references. That the shoe has been a consistent player in the fashion world and yet has never been forced to drastically change with the times means it’s not defined by any specific era.
Lee shares, “There are some heritage brands where they feel the need to come out with new things or add a logo here and there. But [fashion] is always a cycle. People always come back to that thing that was great decades ago, and I think this boot is definitely one of those items.” She continues, “I think the fact that the boot’s story isn’t just rooted in the past, but also today, is an advantage.”
Bridging the gap between vintage inspiration and modern styling, the boot’s timeless appeal makes it the perfect partner for the season’s best dresses. As Lee says best, “The great thing about the Clarks Desert Boot is that it gets better with age.”