Shoes/Boots

Can I Wear Combat Boots After 40?

Hi Deb,

I’m wondering how to wear combat boots after 40? I see a lot of young girls wearing them with short shorts, but I’m not sure if it’s acceptable for a woman my age to be wearing them, or what I should wear them with?

I wore Doc Martens in the ’90s and loved how comfortable they were, but I have a feeling that these boots aren’t worn in the same manner this time around? Can you give me ideas for how to wear Doc Martens over 40?  Thanks!  Trudy

Combat Boots - Brown Cheetah Scarf, Olive top outfit - How to wear doc martens over 40

Hi Trudy,

This is a great example of an old trend that comes around and makes you wonder if you should try it again.  The answer, If you rocked Dr. Martens and flannel shirts during your younger grunge days, you can certainly wear them again. Just be sure to style them in a modern way that is in sync with the times and your age.

Combat boots look hip and cool on mature women when they are part of a whole look, (not thoughtlessly tossed on with anything). For example, pairing combat boots with something unexpected and feminine like this silky blouse and leopard print scarf (above) is a modern, grown-up look.

Doc Martens have even been spotted on older stars like Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon, so there’s certainly no need to worry about looking like a granny in combat boots!  Here are a few more ideas for what to wear with Doc Martens and combat boots over 40.

Dr. Martens - Boyfriend jeans- black sleeveless sweater, cargo coat - how to wear combat boots over 50

1) Jeans

Jeans are a natural with combat boots, but a skinny leg jean and big clunky combats will make your feet look huge. So all you need to do is balance the look by wearing something long and loose up top. An oversized sweater, tunic or loose, flowy blouse works. Skinny jeans can be tucked into combat boots.

Baggy boyfriend jeans can be cuffed or worn down, long over your Doc Martens. Throw on a cute field jacket for an edgy outdoors look.

Want instant sophistication? Try raw-edge denim and a tailored blazer + a pair of rebellious Dr. Martens.

Dr. Martens - Plaid Pants, pinks sweater outfit styled - how to wear combat boots over 40

2) Cropped Pants

If you try to wear combat boots without giving your outfit a feminine touch, you a going to look like you are wearing a military costume. It’s the contrast between the feminine and the masculine that you need to pull off this look. Here, the prettiest pink color transforms what could be a plaid punk look into a sophisticated outfit with a cool edge. Cropped plaid pants work perfectly to show off this edgy boot and give the outfit attitude!

3) Short Flirty Dresses 

Another easy solution to counteract the macho feel of combat boots is to wear a short, feminine dress with them. Pick something that is soft, light, flowy and has movement. Florals work well to create a contrast. Pair your pretty dress with tights and lace-up combat boots.

Dr. Martens - Floral Dress

4) A Maxi Dress or Skirt

Long dresses and skirts work just as well. Here’s an example. Pair this flowy floral maxi with combat boots, and a black leather jacket for a dash of subculture style.

I must confess any look with combat boots is not for me. My taste leans more to boots that are sleek and fine. None-the-less, if it works for you, go for it. Dressing after 40, or at any age is all about personal expression and being authentic.

Doc Martens aren’t the only kind of combat boots around. There are a lot of other combat boots that are less chunky, edgy and a little more feminine and refined. You may be more in that camp and if so, I have included lots here.

Do you like combat boots, or do they belong in the army? Have you ever owned a pair of Dr. Martens? I’d love to know. 

Join the Conversation

77 thoughts on “Can I Wear Combat Boots After 40?

  1. Here’s a style tip : Wear whatever makes you feel confident and comfortable. Other people’s opinions are none of your business. Worrying about what people think of your shoes is so middle school.
    PS at 54 I have at least 5 pair of Doc Martens, I also have short pink hair and piercings- because it’s my body and I earned the ability to wear what I want.

  2. I’m 51 and I really didn’t know there was such a thing as age limits for combat boots. I’ve worn Docs my entire adult life. I love them and will probably always wear them. Be confident ladies and you can wear anything that makes you feel good and happy. You only have one life, so live it and enjoy. NEVER let anyone tell you that you are too old for something. They should be so lucky to get to your point in life. 😄

  3. What about white combat dr martens, boots. ?? Is that too trendy for older women?
    Thank you appreciated your article. Great suggestions
    Mary

    1. Hi Mary, I’m seeing a lot of white combat boots this year. It’s really more to do with your attitude than your age. I could see them with black skinny jeans and a long white tunic sweater or oversized white turtleneck. What do you think?

  4. I was wondering the same and I’m 56! But I love the new boho styles out there and having lost a lot of weight, I can finally wear them. I’ve got some great combat boots but a friend said only 20-somethings can wear them.

  5. I am 39 and just ordered my first pair of boots since the 90’s. I came across your article and that’s when I ordered them. I’m hoping you could do a few more examples on how to wear them. I feel insecure but I really want to “rock” them at my age. I love all your articles. Thank you!

  6. Thanks so much for this post! I have wide feet which make it really hard for me to find fashionable shoes that don’t hurt, so I’m planning to work this trend while it lasts! However, I’m 45 and although I love to remember the 90s, I don’t want to look like I’m still stuck in the 90s… It’s great to see your suggested outfits are smart enough to wear to my casual office!

  7. I am 63 and have just bought my third pair of Docs! I fell in love with them because of the large toe box, which I need due to ny crummy foot anatomy. The air wair soles work well with my chronic callous. These are so much better that wearing old lady orthopedic shoes. That being said, I am lucky to live in New Orleans, and we have many occasions to wear exactly what you want to. I have some funky floral ones that I wear to Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, even with shorts. The first time i wore them, I had then on for about 10 minutes, and was told by a stranger “I LOVE your boots!” I have cordovan and blood red ones to wear with skinny jeans, and would also have no qualms wearing them with a flowy dress, just not to church! or out to a nice restaurant.

  8. I have a bunion on one foot and I am most comfortable rounded toes and lace up shoes. I have a pair of black lace up sort of combat style boots. They are a bit chunky but look good I think with black tights and a skirt or jeans. I’d rather look a bit punk if the other choice is to wear orthopedic looking shoes. I’m in my 50s, short and slim so the boots are definitely a statement.

  9. I am 62 and love fashion, that being said I am a jean girl and I am always looking for ways to elevate the look without heels or ballet flats (uncomfortable) Bought myself a pair of patent leather combat boots and love them.

  10. I am a youngish 62 and must wear special hand made orthopedic shoes which look like combat boots. I have a black set and white set. They are clunky. I have very slim hips and derriere but a big belly and waist. I am at a loss as to what to wear. Other than a black parachute like longish skirt with various long vests or sweaters or black jeans. I do not know what to do. Pictures and advice welcome!

    1. Hi Gila, I’m finding it hard to imagine these shoes. Do they come up your shin like combat boots? If so, have you tried a maxi dress if you want to cover them? If you are not worried about covering them up and they do look like combat boots then you can wear skinny black jeans or leggings tucked in with a cozy long sweater/or a long blouse or tunic over top that covers your belly. That’s a popular look. The best thing to do it take them to the stores and try some things on. Many department stores now have free personal shoppers who could help you find something that works. Best of Luck, Deborah

  11. I will turn 65 next month and just bought a pair online and am waiting for them. I’m not going to start second guessing myself. I’ll have fun wearing them with a maxi skirt, jeans, and am looking forward to see what I can come up with. Young at heart.

    1. Hi,gotcha beat;)) I am 74 I wear top fashion cowboy boots,I will tell you age has nothing to do with it! You are as young as you feel.I do not look my age,I don’t act or look my age,in fact I’m told I look 60 WooHoo by females.I just ordered my brown military boots,I plan on wearing them with my tights,jeans,…..(no short skirt) do not do that anymore,I will wear these boots with gouchos also.Cant wait to get them,I had a pair Doc Marten $135 bought when I was 68 they were ankle length.My new ones are calf length.I say…..if it makes you feel good,it’s all that matters!!!!

    2. I am 62 and just received my patent leather combat boots in the mail. At first I thought I was crazy But I have been wearing them around the house and I am in love with them. I can’t wait to wear them out.

  12. They look cute in their own way. I’m 29 and have gout, not many shoe options for me. I’m planning to buy a similar boot and wear it with skirts and dresses.

  13. Love the combat boots but, yeah, having hard time putting an oufit together. I like the feminine touch with them but would like to wear with jeans! Advice or pics welcome!

  14. My 14 year old daughter loves fashion and got her first black pair in 2012. We recently went shopping for a brown pair for her and I had fun trying on some too. I trust her opinion and asked if I look silly, being 43, and she thought they looked great on me. So I bought a black pair. I wanted something to wear “every day” with skinny jeans. However, I would never wear it with a skirt. I never wore them in the 90’s either. She and her little sister now wear combat boots with skirts that I think give this a very soho/bohemian look. If I did that I know I couldn’t pull it off. I’m an artist by profession, but not the artsy type. I feel it is attitude more than anything that pulls off the complete look.

  15. Glad to see this thread. I am over 40 and saw a pair of combat type Steve Madden boots I really liked, but….wasn’t sure if I would look fun or like a fashion victim. IMO a mature woman would look best pairing them with jeans or leggings, but maybe leave dresses and skirts to the 20-somethings.

  16. I am 49. I just bought a pair of floral dr martens. I love them. Have your own sense of style Wear what makes you feel good. Life is too short to worry about what other people think!

    1. Definitely wear what makes you feel comfortable at any age. How do you feel in it? If you don’t feel like it’s YOU, don’t wear it. No one has a right to make you feel like you can’t make decisions about what makes you feel right. You know who you are~ be happy and confident about it.

  17. It’s fun reading everyone’s opinion about fashion and perception, which we all have one, right? As long as you feel good and do not have too much skin showing in or out of clothes ( you know what I am talking about) why not?! We have one life to live and we should live it! Who knows what positive inspiration we may have…

  18. Im 41, but I look like Im in my late 20’s or early 30’s. I have a pair of Black Triumph 1914 Doc Marten combat boots and love them! I wear them with everything. I am even wearing them at work right now with skinny black jeans and an olive green sweater and girly necklace.
    I am not into the sleek boot look, I personally find that look boring. I dress edgy pretty much all the time, my hair is edgy as well. Thats just me. I work in the construction industry so my boots are acceptable. And the men absolutely love the boots and think they look sexy on me! I wear them with dresses (with tights) and leggings as well. I also listen to heavy metal music so the look just goes with my style and interests.

    I loved my boots so much I got them in brown as well. I just can’t stand the normal, blend in with society boring look. No offense to anyone else. And I definitly don’t do heels..can’t stand them. They are so uncomfortable, you can’t pay me to wear those. I stick to combat boots or flats!

      1. Hate to burst your bubble, I am 47 and I get carded in bars and I do look like I am in my 20s. My 2 girls and I go out anywhere and people think we are sisters.

        1. Yes, it it more than possible. Those who say otherwise are angry that they don’t (look younger than they are) and want you to feel bad that you do.
          I’m going to be 52 in 2 weeks. I don’t look a day over 30. People aren’t shocked when they find out my age, they’re stunned. I recently took my mom to her dermatologist and he – the dermatologist – told me I don’t need botox when I asked his tech if it hurts. I thought his job was to make money?
          People don’t think my 21 daughter and I are sisters, they think we’re a couple. It’s bizarre, actually, to be asked if my “partner” and I live together; the confusion comes in because I am Native American and my daughter, whose father was white, looks white. I regularly get carded buying nicotine gum.
          I believe anyone who says they look much younger than they are, it really isn’t that uncommon. If you don’t believe I look as young as I say I do I would be happy to direct you to my facebook page with lots of recent photos.

      2. im sorry but nobody in their late forties looks in their twenties – unless of course they are full of botox and silicone – and nothing looks older than older trying desperately to look younger

        1. Whatever. I rarely wear makeup and I don’t even dye my hair. I eat clean and plant based and work out. The last tine I got carded was a few days after my fortieth birthday. Not since, mind you, but my hubby sometimes gets accused of robbing the cradle. We’re the same age.

    1. This is an interesting “comment” thread. I wonder at the motivation of people telling others,that they do not personally know, that they are deluding themselves. I recently turned 50, and have been, and continue to be, mistaken for 10-15 years younger than I am. I have never used botox or had any kind of surgery, and wear very minimal, if any, makeup. I do go on juice and smoothie cleanses and, when I am eating the mainly raw vegan diet that feels best to me, look much younger that is expected for people in our culture.

  19. Wore them when I was in the military many years ago. They were utilitarian. They are hideous as a fashion statement unless you want to look like a hard core punker. They are especially awkward looking on anyone that is not tall as they chop the lower half of the leg creating an unflattering proportion. There are so many other cuter, fashionable boots. This trend will pass so don’t invest in an expensive pair.

    1. There are lower and slimmer profile Docs that retain the comfort and a bit of an edgy look while appearing a bit more refined.

  20. Were you offended by my comment? I am sorry …I don’t see my comment published here. It’s just when I write, I write as I speak. What I meant is that combat boots , I think , does not really look good worn with dresses and if someone looks really very old , like a granny. If you are 45 or 50 but looking young, I think you can pull off that look esp. worn with jeans, mini skirt, or shorts. I do not mean any offense nor try to provoke you with my comment. In fact, I agree with your suggestions, except for the dress . I love this site. And I was taking pride that I can wear Doc Martens to inspire women that they can wear anything if they can pull off a look . I’m sorry if that is coming off to you. I meant no offense.

    1. Hi Aira,
      No offense taken! I agree with you.. combat boots are really hard to pull of if you are over 40. I have seen women do it, but you have to have the attitude and be in a creative industry or just a really creative person that you don’t look silly.

      1. I agree! You have to have the whole look. I’ve seen people wear old lady clothing then throw on combats. Im 42 and my entire look is edgy. So I pull it off just fine. Plus it helps that EVERYONE has said I look 30-32. I never want to wear old people clothing. Contemporary isn’t my style.

  21. Wearing them with a dress is fine if you’re below 30 but if you’re over that age, I think it goes with jeans and shorts…and wearing it all black does not make you look like rocker-wannabe. Unless you look like granny , you cannot wear this trend. If you look younger than your age, then it is great because you can surely pull off this look. I am 44 but looking like 27 to 30 (without any procedure), I get lots of compliments when I wear my Doc Martens with a short, mini skirt or jeans.

    1. Hmm.”Unless you look like granny”. Enough already with this kind of sexist stereotyping of women. For all you know, some grannies may be smokin’ hot. Look at Catherine Keener playing the granny in “Forty Year Old Virgin”.

  22. I fell in love with that whole bad-ass rocker look in the 90’s but was busy raising kids and had no room or time for that trendy look. Now I’m done with raising my kids and wow, the combat boots are back….but now I don’t feel so brazen…however, together with my husband, we have bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle and this has been the answer to my bad-ass look. Jokingly, you know what they say about HD? High dollar or hundred dollar! There aren’t a lot of young HD riders out there cause it takes $$$ for the whole look. So am I sporting the bad-ass look when I’m on our bike? You bet your sweet bippy I am! But only in the right setting-when I am with my other over 40 fabulous friends, cruising the back roads!

    1. Hi Leslie,
      Wooohoo…now we are talkin! Good for you! There is certainly a time and place for this look after 40 and you are on top of it! Sounds like you are having a blast! You should check out another article we did on a FAB motorcycle gal, named Janice Irwin. She is not doing the BA Harley look, but still having fun with a softer version of “biker chic “. Would love to see photos and put them up on our FB page! Feel free to post them here! Thanks for sharing your story with our community! http://www.facebook.com/fabafter40

  23. i am thinking overall NO! but all combat boots are not created equal. If we are discussing “true” combat boots like those that my father wore in military – that would be a resounding “not on your life” – if you are talking doc martens which are a distant cousin – “still no” but if you are referring to “combat/military” inspired boots, that is something different and i think that depending on the boot – it may be worth checking out. Tory Burch had a cute suede military bootie with a rugged wedgie that would not be cute on me but looking at you two glammy girls, they would be adorable on either of you.

    1. Hi Beacuz,
      You make a good point..not all combat boots are created equal! The ones we are showing in the photo are actually pretty tame..there are certainly others out there that are much more radical. Will def. have to check out the Tory Burch version. These types of trends do go main stream and can then be easier to swallow…

  24. Wow, I am excited to hear from so many of you ladies! Just reading all these diverse comments it is so interesting and so wonderful to hear how passionate you all are about fashion!

    The lesson here is I am not here to be the “fashion police” but to give my honest opinion and let you express yours. So thanks for participating….it makes my day!!!

  25. Wore these in the very early 70s! Skipped the 90s go-around.

    Would likely wear these again, but with cargos or jeans. Def not with a dress. Would wear with solids, not prints; most likely neutrals.

    This would look best with a straight silhouette, not a curvy one: Me being curvy, I’d opt for a loose-fitting, straight safari-type jacket over a camisole, with jewelry; a clean, casual look.

    The vibe would be very casual and utilitarian, which if done right would contrast nicely with a mature, ultrafeminine persona.

    Loved the post above about food server outfits! Gave me a chuckle.

  26. My niece, aged 18, petite and fine boned, tuned up in a pair of these visiting the West Coast from the UK last summer-unlaced, scuffed, and looking 3 sizes to big. She says they are trendy. I never saw anything so ridiculous in my life, despite the fact that she is only 18. They were absurdly inappropriate for summer on the west coast (ALAS you see a lot of Uggs here-another vile fashion) and their only merit in the UK is they keep your feet dry. You still need socks to stay warm. Talk about Power Puff Grrrrls or whatever they are-I dont think these boots look good on anyone. As for an office look-Ana what sort of office do you work in? Mine is fairly casual but combat boots would be completely inappropriate. Read the Corporette website…..

  27. I just saw them at a shop window (auttom just started here in Buenos Aires) with a black, knitted long dress and a long beige cardigan with big dots and some necklaces
    It was really a nice look for after 40
    I thought I could use it for the office, and I am 65.

  28. I really don’t want to seem sexist against my own sex, but I never thought that combat boots looked good on women young or old. Men pull it off better, but it still has to have a very different, edgy look than straight military. Maybe it’s because I spent too much time in the military seeing them every day. Ugh. As a young girl, I wore my dad’s army shirt with the last name sewn on out of personal pride. But when military styles are worn by random civilians, I tend to just role my eyes.

    People in the military don’t choose the style — they have to wear it. Would you wear a fast food server’s outfit, a mechanic’s jumpsuit (with embroidered nametag), or a dairy owner’s goloshes if you didn’t have to? Probably not — and that’s pretty much how I feel about combat boots.

  29. Ha, Ha! All I can say is it looks like there’s hope for those of us who are forced to wear not-so-hip orthotic shoes daily. If combat boots are in, who says we, too, can’t be fashionable!? In fact, why don’t we set the next trend with orthotic shoes?

  30. The boots pictured above are a western style lace up Roper not combat boots, which are much chunkier. I would definitely wear the Ropers with jeans and a feminine top; not sure about the combat boots but I’d be willing to try them on.

    1. Ah…another horse person (?) that recognizes the true style of the boot pictured! I’ve worn lace-up ropers when I showed. My newest “roper style” has more of an English lace-up style. They are definitely better looking than combat boots!

  31. Well……….I am nearing… oh gosh I hate to think- 60! And I would NOT wear combat boots other than in perhaps my garden? Or attending a horse show in the dirt– that sort of event. Otherwise, I think I’d look like an idiot! LOL Like I already had senility!

    1. I am over 60 and I love combat ”style” boots. With skinny jeans a great looking turtle neck and an edgy short hairdo…. you can have a lot of fun.

      1. Hi Terry,
        That sounds cute.I think you hit the nail on the head. Combat boots are sporty and fun and that’s why some women can pull them off. For example, Diane Keaton. She has a very creative, fun fashion sense and they work for her. Cheers! Deborah

  32. I thought they were abominations in the 90s and they are still abominations. I was so relieved when the era of ugly clunky black boots and heavy soled thick black clunky shoes was over, there were no longer “GRRRRLS” everywhere pretending to be “tough”, and I could actually find attractive slingbacks again. This is a trend for the trashcan as far as I am concerned. I wouldnt be seen dead in them at any age.

  33. Hi,
    I like combat-boots. Thet are very comfortable, and they give an edge to my
    very classy look. I wear them with classic man-style pants, jeans or some-
    times even with a romantic dress. They can save a bit too classy (or mumsy)
    dress.
    Regards,
    Anne M.

  34. Wow. I’m surprised anyone would want to wear them again. I just think about myself in bike shorts and doc martens and while it was trendy back in the 90s, looking back its seems so ridiculous to me. I do love that leggings are back and wide leg pants.

  35. I bought a pair of fun inexpensive combat boots from Forever 21 and wear them with jeans and a cute sage green lacy tank from Anthro plus an Army green 3/4 length coat from Coldwater Creek. GREAT look – lots of compliments! Go for it! Comfortable, practical and FUN!

  36. I don’t get why someone would think you have to be young to wear combat boots. It’s not like they’re daisy dukes for god’s sake!

    1. Hi Lang,
      LOL… Your right, combat boots are certainly not too sexy, but the point we are trying to make here is that they are more in the category of Uggs. Where are you seeing them? Teen Vogue not Town and Country.
      Teenagers are wearing this trend…and when that happens we over 40 gals have to make sure our version of the trend works. We are not saying it can’t be done, like
      Sara’s version sounds great. However, it can come off as a masculine and clunky look if you are not careful. After all, we trying for balance in our wardrobe, not too old, too young, but just right. However, if your wardrobe screams creative,funky…then a pair of combat boots can be a comfortable, cool addition.

  37. I’m all for individuality, and to “each his own”, but since the question was posed, I’ll answer… to be blunt, I think combat boots look godawful on females of any age. I’m amazed anyone considers them flattering.

    1. I have to agree with Ann,
      Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind when I think of combat boots! Would anyone like to send us a photo of themselves in Combat boots to prove me wrong?

  38. I think with jeans they look ok & I do wear them but maybe not with a dress. Definitely agree with you ladies when you say to add something feminine to wear with them. Don’t want to look like I’m channelling my inner Suzie Q (as much as I used to love her). :)

    1. Hi Oz,
      Ha…good point about, “Don’t want to look like I’m channelling my inner Suzie Q”…but really the fun of dressing is expressing. When and how is certainly more challenging as we move onward and upward the ladder of age. Good idea to think about it a little more these days!

  39. I agree with GiGi on this. I would (and do!) wear a combat boot with jeans, but wouldn’t with dresses, as I also did in the 90’s. I really miss wearing the combat boot look, but I just don’t feel as if I can pull it off these days.

  40. Hi,

    I think combat boots belong on the combat field. This is one of those examples of trendy that looks like you are trying to hard to be hip etc. This style may look good on some women but not for me. There are too many stylish and beautiful boots to wear besides these. Hope no offense is taken, just my opinion.

  41. I wear them all the time! They are so comfortable and don’t look too radical just worn with jeans. I’m not sure I’d wear them with a dress like we did in the ’90s, though.

    1. Hi Gigi, Love hearing that you are wearing them! Would love to see a photo to share with the readers! It is so hard for us to find women over 40 wearing trends!
      Great to hear you are enjoying this trend!

  42. Wore them in the 90s and wearing them again now. : ) Not one to follow rules though, which is why I lucked out to live in NYC!

    1. Hi Lucy,
      You say, “not one to follow rules…”. Yes I agree!! That is what we are all about here at Fabulous After 40! I love hearing everyone’s thoughts on fashion.
      It’s not about the rules, but how to dress to express the true you. Many women come to F40 who feel stuck in a rut, dressing boring or “safe”. I like to show examples of new ideas for how to dress and to encourage women to express themselves in a creative or new way!
      You are lucky to be living in NYC…anything goes there, for sure!

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