About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
We’re no strangers to Chelseas.
You’ve probably seen them around town, and so. have. I.
An incredibly versatile pair of boots is what I’m thinking of,
and a review like this you wouldn’t get from any other guy.
I… just want to tell you how these Dukes are feeling,
and I’ve gotta try to make you understand.
Dappered will never run around… or desert you.
Adam’s never gonna tell a lie, and hurt you.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
- Brand: Thursday Boot Co.
- Style: Chelsea boots
- Size: 10.5 US
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Goodyear welt
- Upper: Le Farc combination-tanned full-grain cowhide
- Sole: Thursday Boot Co. studded rubber
- Details: N/A
- Extras: N/A
- Country of Origin: Mexico
- Price: $199 US
A simple, smart silhouette that can be dressed up or down.
My pair of Duke Chelsea boots in brandy cowhide was ordered around lunch time on a Wednesday. They shipped out via UPS Ground the next business day and were delivered on that Saturday. As I’ve said before, it pays to be located somewhat near the main UPS hub!
FYI: Thursday Boot Co. offers free basic outgoing shipping on all orders over $50. They also offer free returns within 30 days for all first-quality items in unworn, resalable condition. Some items, like final sale goods and “seconds” are not eligible for returns or exchanges. Simple!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, quick shipping, and simple no-hassle returns. A+
No extras, and wouldn’t expect extra laces anyway because… well, yeah.
Similar to the Scout chukka boots that I recently reviewed, this pair also arrived in the standard black cardboard Thursday Boot Co. boot box. Inside the box, each boot was stuffed with tissue paper and a cardboard shaft collar thingy before being wrapped in a clear plastic bag. Both boots arrived in one piece and without any major scuffs, thanks in minor part to a single layer of black tissue paper that covered them. There are no extras to note, but my expectations were already pretty low, given the price point and the fact that Chelsea boots don’t use laces.
Score: 5/5 Stars – For the price, this unboxing experience meets my expectations.
Fresh out of the box, you’ll notice how the leather shines and glows with warmth in direct sunlight. This full-grain leather from Le Farc is combination tanned, similar to Horween’s Chromexcel, which means that it will retain its warm, bourbon-like color over time and will evolve as you create a unique-to-you patina with wear. LeFarc’s tannery is located in Leon, Mexico and sits just across town from the Botas Jaca factory where these boots are made. Convenient! LeFarc uses a lot of US-sourced cattle hides and supplies finished leathers to a smorgasbord of different brands, including Wolverine, Blundstone, Timberland, Sperry, Saddleback Leather, and of course, Thursday Boots.
Full grain leather in a warm “brandy”-brown shade.
Design wise, this is a great looking Chelsea boot with a simple, yet smart silhouette. Within Thursday’s Chelsea boot line up, the Duke sits neatly in between the slimmer and dressier Cavalier model and the heartier and more rugged looking Legend model. If you’re in the market for a versatile pair of boots to wear with a wide variety of business casual, smart casual, or relaxed casual outfits, the Duke is your Goldilocks choice. It can easily be dressed up or down.
Planning to attend a Summer wedding? This “brandy” color is a warm shade of brown that would look fantastic with a light grey wool or khaki linen suit. If you’re like me and typically wear a button-down sport shirt (like Oxford cloth or linen) and khaki chinos to the office, these boots would look fantastic in that “smart casual” style, too, helping to elevate an otherwise simple outfit up a notch. Maybe you’re more of a t-shirt with jeans kind of guy. Lean into the rocker aesthetic and pair these boots with some slim jeans, plain white tee, and a cool jacket.
Constructed of four leather panels that are neatly stitched together.
The two elastic gore panels are stitched into contrasting leather strips.
Taking a boot in hand, you’ll notice that the upper consists of four leather panels – the vamp, two rear quarter panels, and one back stay. The vamp is one solid piece of leather and wraps around rearward to meet the two rear quarters underneath the elastic gores. The two rear quarters come together at the back of the boot. That rear seam gets hidden by the leather back stay, which also helps to integrate the leather pull tab into the design. The two elastic gore panels on the sides of the boot are stitched into contrasting leather strips, which help to add more character to the boot’s design. For contrast, higher quality Chelsea boots from brands like R.M. Williams or JM Weston typically have a wholecut upper design with fewer panels. With that said, all of the stitching on my pair is relatively neat and tidy. I can find no notable faults. Finally, you’ll notice the flat 360* leather welt that’s color matched to the upper leather.
Looking inside, these boots are fully lined in a soft cowhide leather. While this lining leather isn’t as soft as the “glove leather” you’ll find from brands like Quoddy, it’s more than sufficient for dudes like you and me. Socked feet slide in with ease and there are no notable hot spots. Underneath your foot lies a strata of materials and one of the major areas of cost cutting.
Smooth, Chelsea boot shape.
Starting at the top, you have a paper-thin layer of dyed and foil stamped leather that sits on top of the dual density foam comfort layer. Those layers are glued down to a compressed cellulose and paper particle board “fiberboard” insole unit, of which the rest of the shoe is built around. Using a fiberboard insole instead of thick, vegetable tanned leather for the core structure of the shoe is purely a cost savings measure and is one area where higher quality shoe makers won’t skimp. The next layer down consists of a steel shank that’s taped in place and a layer of hot liquid cork that’s spread onto the bottom of the fiberboard insole like warm jelly on a biscuit. This layer of cork helps to fill the void between the fiberboard insole and the leather midsole, while also insulating the boots and helping to add a bit of long term comfort as you wear them. Finally, the studded rubber outsole is glued on and Goodyear welt stitched to the upper. The heel block is made of veg tan leather layers and a studded rubber topper.
Rubber soles replicating the classic Dainite sole may not have the lasting life of the real deal,
but the Goodyear welt means the sole can be replaced when needed.
That studded rubber outsole used on the Duke boots is almost an exact replica, or a subtle homage, of the classic Dainite sole used in higher quality footwear. Jot that down as another cost cutting angle, helping to drive the price down to that $200 level. There have been some reports online of these soles failing faster than expected, cracking or losing chunks of the vulcanized rubber. That’s just something to keep in mind should you end up purchasing a pair and wearing them hard. The good news is that since these boots are Goodyear welted, you can have a cobbler replace those soles with something else if and when that time comes.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Design is surprisingly nice, materials are OK, but corners were cut to get them under $200.
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in a 10.5 and the length and width feel correct for my size 10.5 Brannock feet. The Duke Chelsea boots seem to have a decently shaped last. For me, it runs true to size – the widest part of the boot matches the widest part of my foot and my heels feel pretty locked in. Up front, I have about a thumb’s width of space in front of my toes for a bit of expansion throughout the day. Unlike the Scout chukka boots, I don’t notice any immediate heel slip or rubbing across my outer toes with this pair. I’ll consider that a huge win for initial comfort.
Larger shaft openings (proven by the numbers) affected the comfort of these boots for Adam.
My only complaint about the fit is that the shaft opening is a bit too loose for my liking. While my favorite R.M. Williams Gardener boots gently hug my ankle like the warm embrace of a good friend, Thursday’s Duke boots feel like they are still operating under Covid protocols with the facings standing six feet apart! To put this in tangible perspective, I busted out a cloth measuring tape and measured the opening on both pairs from front to back at the highest points of the shaft opening. My R.M. Williams Gardeners measure roughly four inches across, while the Dukes measure well over five inches across. Ask any man, one inch can be a lot!
I believe the main issue is the boot’s pattern and how the elastic gore is sewn into the upper. That dictates how tight it can hold the boots to your foot/leg. Putting numbers to the problem, the widest part of the elastic gore measures roughly two and a half inches across on the Gardeners, while the Duke’s measure almost four inches across. Maybe it’s my spindly bird legs or maybe I skipped leg day too often. Either way, these boots fit and wear a bit looser than other Chelsea boots that I’ve tried. Perhaps one of y’all out there will prefer that fit anyways.
More elastic than, say, R.M. Williams Gardeners.
Can make for a looser fit, depending on what you’re used to.
Sizing is always a bit of a challenge as our feet are never simply flat, two dimensional objects. Everyone has uniquely shaped feet, and thus, what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. Comfort is highly subjective; you should try a pair at home and see what you think.
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D on a Brannock device (heel to ball) and usually take a 10 D in most roomy dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Converse, Vans, and an 11 in most athletic sneakers from Adidas or Nike. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 3/5 Stars – Initial comfort is fine, but the shafts fit too loose for my liking.
Overall, I was somewhat impressed by the Thursday Boot Co. Duke Chelsea boots. Initially, I had set my expectations really low as I wasn’t sure how these would compare to my favorite pairs of Chelsea boots. Surprisingly, they turned out to be pretty decent considering the price. The boots look good, fit reasonably well (minus my gripes about the shaft opening), feel pretty comfortable out of the box, and should last your Average Joe a good long while. Are they the finest boots ever made? No. Will they last you a decade of regular, hard wear? Highly doubt it.
However, I think most guys who are looking to spend around $200 on a decent pair of Chelsea boots will get their money’s worth out of these. The Duke boots are certainly easy on the eyes and should play well with a wide variety of styles, from smart casual office wear to more casual nights out with family and friends. Try a pair for yourself and let us know what you think!
Avg. Score: 4.25/5 – Recommended, but be wary of build quality, materials, and loose fit.