If you wanted to buy one pair of boots that do it all, a great pair of black boots is the obvious choice.

If you're looking for a pair of casual or heritage boots, black is a slam-dunk choice of color. If you get a pair of casual boots that are made right, they can literally go from the marketing meeting to your favorite hiking trail and to working in the yard with no issue, and keep doing so for years.

But there are so many different kinds of leathers you can choose from. Which should you get?

Owning Black Boots Is A Little Like Owning A Black Car

maintain your black boots to avoid a bad looking boot

Black boots are never a bad choice; they go with everything. But they can be a little like owning a black car.

Anyone who's owned a white or black car knows you have to wash them more often, because any dirt or dust is going to be really obvious. So they have to be cleaned and maintained a little more often if you're concerned with the appearance.

Obviously, that's not a priority for a serious work boot. For a casual boot that you're wearing to an office, it's probably a little more important.

How much you have to do to keep your boots looking their best is influenced by your choice of leather, so that's something you'll want to bear in mind.

If You Want To Polish Your Black Boots, Get Vegetable Tanned

vegetable tanned leather boots for polishing

The old saw is that black goes with everything, but it's more that the right black work boots go with everything if you happen to believe in cliches about men's fashion.

If you don't, and there's very little reason to unless you have to for work, then wear what you want and be happy.

If you're worried about the more conservative approach to dressing for work, then what you want to get is a pair of black boots or leather shoes in vegetable-tanned leather.

Vegetable tanned leather is going to be a lot better for polishing to a high mirror shine compared to Chomexcel or pull-up leathers. You can get out that can of Kiwi or whatever polish you want, build up a nice uniform layer and get it clear enough to see your own reflection.

Polished shoes are part and parcel to the business-formal dress code. If that's what you're worried about, a pair of black boots in vegetable tanned leather are what you want because it's the best foundation for keeping them polished up.

Pull-Up Leather: The Best Of Both Worlds With Black Boots

If obsessive polishing is not something you're interested in, then look for a pair of black boots in a pull-up leather.

Pull-up leathers include Chromexcel and other hot oil-stuffed leather boots that steep the leather in oil during the tanning process. What that does is seal in the dye the leather itself to make it a little more durable but also a lot more flexible.

The "pull up" effect is something you'll notice when handling them. Squeeze a bit of the boot leather, and you'll see the color lighten a little. Let it go, and it returns to normal. That's the oil in the leather being pushed away from the spot you're squeezing it at.

Oil-stuffed leathers also develop patina faster, and in a few years after wearing them develop a wonderful patina. You get the vintage look well before they're actually vintage age!

Pull-up leathers don't take polish as well as vegetable-tanned leather because they're less porous because of the oil-stuffing.

However, they absolutely drink boot oil and boot grease, and will need more frequent applications. You'll want to clean and oil them once every few weeks at least to keep them looking their best.

To get a shine on pull-up leather, you only have to oil and buff them. You don't quite get that high mirror shine of heavy polishing, but you get in the neighborhood and with a lot less hassle.

If you want a pair of boots that you can shine up occasionally if you want, but can leave alone when you don't, it's the best of both worlds.

Rough-Out Leather For The Lowest Possible Maintenance

The best choice for work boots and a very good choice for casual or heritage boots is rough-out leather, which puts the smooth side on the inside of the boot and the fleshy side out.

The downside is you can't polish it. The upside is you can't polish it. Rough-out leather only needs to be oiled or greased. Clean with saddle soap, rub down with oil or grease and they're good to go.

They look great, and don't need much in terms of care to keep them in great shape. If low-maintenance is more your thing, go for roughout. They look almost like new with a bit of oil every so often.