How Will Your Leather Boots Change Over Time?
Leather boots change as they age. You'll notice some difference in how they feel to a degree, but also in the color. Exactly how they age depends on the color of leather you bought, and the type of leather your boots are made of.
Another factor, of course, is how you maintain your boots. The more studious you are with conditioning the leather has an impact on how they age, too.
While there are some companies that specialize in processes that pre-age or distress leather boots, real wear gives them so much more character. The wear lines, patina and change in color from a pair of lived-in leather boots is better when it isn't faked.
So what can you expect from your leather boots over time? It depends a lot on your specific pair, how you wear them and how you care for them...but let's talk about some things you can expect to see.
Brown Boots Get Darker, Black Boots Get A Little Lighter
As a general rule, brown leather boots will darken over time but black leather boots will usually lighten a little.
Tan leather will eventually turn into a medium brown, and darker browns start to turn chocolate if not nearly black. A reddish brown like an orange brown will darken to a walnut or oxblood color, and walnut or oxblood-like leathers develop a red-tinged black appearance that's absolutely gorgeous.
Black leather tends to acquire an almost gray hue to the surface. Some black leathers almost take on a brushed steel appearance with time and wear...though it's usually made a little more pronounced if the leather isn't conditioned enough.
The parts of the boot that stretch and move the most such as the toe and heel are going to darken faster, so you might get something close to a two-tone appearance with time.
Top Tip: if you want to get an idea of what kind of color change you can expect, oil or grease your boots. It's not going to be exact, but you will get an idea of what you're in for.
Different Leathers Wear Differently
Another thing to be aware of is exactly how your boots will age depends on the kind of leather they're made of. Different leathers are made differently, and different leathers age differently.
Oil-stuffed leathers are impregnated with oils and waxes, giving them the "pull-up" effect and making the leather very pliable. This kind of leather, like a black or Olive Chromexcel will start to patina much more quickly, but takes longer to develop more pronounced wear patterns. You'll get the lived-in look a lot sooner.
On the other hand, a harder leather like English bridle leather boots takes a while to really show signs of wear. Once it does, it develops a bright patina and very pronounced creases and lines of wear. They look like they've really been on a journey.
Resoles And Rebuilds Are Part Of The Process
Of course, the longer you wear your boots, the more the sole is going to get worn down and the footbed pressed under your feet. Eventually, the sole will need to be replaced and the footbed rebuilt.
So if you're investing in a pair of boots that you can wear for years if not decades (possibly for the rest of your life) then make sure you're investing in a pair of boots that can be resoled or rebuilt if needs be, so you can keep wearing them.
Properly maintained leather boot uppers can last longer than the person who bought them. If you put in a bit of regular maintenance, you can keep a pair of boots for the rest of your life and even pass them on to your children or grandchildren.
So make sure to invest in a pair of boots that can be resoled or rebuilt as needed.