Buyer's Guide

A Buyer’s Guide to Dr. Martens

Today recognised as one of the United Kingdom’s most iconic footwear brands, Dr Martens established its reputation creating robust, practical boots with comfort and durability in mind.

Embraced by the working classes upon their UK release in 1960, Dr Martens were later picked up by punks rebelling against consumerist culture in the late ’60s and ’70s. Ever since Dr. Martens has become synonymous with rebellion, counterculture and adding a little attitude to your style.

Globally beloved as some of the most reliable and durable shoes you’ll ever purchase, Dr Martens are an investment piece you’ll love forever and can style will just about anything.

To ensure you pick the perfect pair here is our guide to Dr Martens, with advice on sizing, breaking them in and all your burning questions about the brand…

Dr Martens

#1 How do I break in Dr Martens?

  • First of all, you need to ease yourself in – start by walking around on soft indoor surfaces and getting used to feel. Do this every other day for best results.
  • Soften the boots with the Dr Martens’ Wonder Balsam. The blend of coconut oil, lanolin and beeswax will hydrate and ease the leather and soften gently.
  • Remove the inner sole if you’re finding that you’re feeling pressure on the top of your foot when walking, or if they feel too tight.
  • If they feel slightly loose, add in a Dr Martens insole to add cushioning and ensure your foot is secure and not slipping about.
  • For the first couple of wears, put on multiple layers of socks or an extra thick pair. This will not only protect your foot against blisters but will encourage the leather to soften and shape to your foot.
  • Persevere! Dr Martens mould to your foot so the effort is worth it. Once broken in, they’ll be the comfiest pair on your shoe-rack so take it slow but keep going. Getting them fully broken in and comfy can take a couple of weeks but you’ll get there.

#2 Do Dr Martens shoes run big, small or true-to-size?

Generally, Dr Martens fit true to size, so we’d advise getting the size you usually are. However, Dr Martens can differ in size dependant on the style you are buying. The classic boots can sometimes fit a little big so if you’re in between sizes, consider going down a size or getting an insole. Also, when moving up sizes, be aware that this will mostly affect the length rather than the width.

To be sure on your size, take a look at the size chart below.

5    3  36  9.21″ 
6    4  37  9.54″ 
7  6  5  38  9.88″ 
8  7  6  39  10.21″ 
9  8  7  41  10.55″ 
10  9  8  42  10.88″ 
11  10  9  43  11.22″ 

Dr Martens

#3 How can I waterproof my Dr Martens?

Although Dr. Martens shoes and boots are not completely waterproof, they are designed to withstand the elements with their durable build and tough sole.

To enhance water-resistance for your Dr Martens, apply a protective shoe oil such as Dr Martens’ own Wonder Balsam. The Balsam is created from a unique blend of coconut oil, lanolin and beeswax which works to protect the leather against water, liquid and salt marks. The Wonder Balsam will also moisturise the leather and helps prevent cracking. Also, make sure to give your Dr Martens a once over with a waterproofing spray before you first wear them, and make sure to dry them off if they get wet as lengthy exposure to water isn’t good for leather.

#4 How do I clean my Dr Martens?

This would depend on the material that your footwear is made from.

Generally, for leather Dr Martens products we would recommend a fully clean, conditioning and polish every 3-4 months. Please see above for detailed instructions on this process.

How should I polish my Dr Martens?

  1. Clean the Shoes: Remove your laces, and begin to clean each section of your shoe using warm water and liquid soap, starting with the sole and working your way to the upper. To clean, use a damp cloth, shoe brush and toothbrush to access more difficult areas such as around the eyelets.
  2. Condition the Leather: Using a premium leather conditioner such as the Dr Martens Wonder Basalm, massage the conditioner into your Dr Martens using a cloth or sponge. This will help to prevent the leather from drying up, cracking and losing its durability, keeping the leather soft and comfortable to wear.
  3. Polish: Again using a quality polish matched to the colour of your leather (Dr. Martens produces its own range of polishes which are highly recommended), apply the polish to your shoes using a cloth to rub the polish onto the shoes in a circular motion that will warm the wax and make it easier to apply the polish.
  4. Leave to Rest: Once you have finished polishing your shoes, allow the polish to sit on your shoes for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Buff: Using a shoe brush, gently buff the leather all over to work the polish into the leather and remove any excess polish simultaneously.
  6. Shine: Using a clean nylon cloth and the mirror shine technique, buff the leather to a shine while also removing any dust and excess polish.

#5 Are Dr Martens unisex?

Yes! Big believers in expression beyond gender, Dr Martens are for everyone, will all styles being unisex. Their philosophy; if you like them, wear them as all of their most iconic styles are unisex. And even if there isn’t a unisex style, most of the Dr Marten range has men’s and women’s versions of the design, only slightly altered. However, be sure to take a look at the sizing as the marked female styles can fit slightly narrower, so you might need to alter your size to suit the style you’re going for.

#6 Can I resole my Dr Martens?

The iconic Dr Martens AirWair sole is famous for its hardwearing durability and should only need to be resoled in extreme circumstances, designed to see you through a lifetime.

Since most Dr Martens boots are one-piece moulded, they would need to be returned to the factory for an entirely new sole to be stitched on. If your shoes require resoling due to sudden unexpected damage, we recommend contacting the brand with information about your shoes to see if they can be repaired.

#7 Where are Dr Martens made?

Dr Martens has produced its iconic shoes and boots from its Cobbs Lane factory in Wollaston, Northampton since 1960 and the factory remains in operation today.

Until recently all Dr Martens shoes and boots were made in England at the brand’s Wollaston factory, but the brand now also outsources production to various factories around the world to keep up with the ever-growing demand for the brand.

#8 How long do Dr Martens last?

Dr Marten’s boots are famous for their durability and many of its wearers attest to their boots lasting for up to 20 years and even longer. When properly cared for, Dr Martens boots can last a lifetime as they’re made from the highest quality leather or vegan equivalent, rigorously tested to ensure their strength. This is the reason why you hear stories of people still stomping around in Docs passed down from their parents, and why investing in a pair is always a good choice.

#9 Are Dr Martens slip-resistant?

Dr. Martens products are oil, fat, acid, petrol and alkali resistant, meaning you’d have a hard time slipping in these bad boys. They also have an intricate grip pattern on the sole, intended to keep you safe and sturdy through rain and snow.

#10 Are Dr Martens suitable in a kitchen environment?

Dr. Martens footwear, with its PVC air-cushioned soles, is known for both its comfort and durability. It is, however, wear-tested in a street environment, not in a kitchen environment.

Fats such as cooking oils and greases used in kitchens are very aggressive on all types of footwear, including Dr Martens. If shoes are intended for this environment, we suggest special care. Washing the soles off daily with warm water and a grease-cutting soap and ensuring that the uppers are cleaned and protected may help footwear last longer in the kitchen environment.

Dr Marten’s soles are oil, fat, acid, petrol, alkali RESISTANT, but not PROOF.

#11 What does AirWair mean?

The Dr Martens soles were christened AirWair soles way back at their launch in the 1960s. Referring to the air bubbles in the soles, using air pockets to give them bounce, comfort and durability, AirWair is the was coined to describe the feature.

#12 How do you style Dr Martens?

The great thing about the Dr Martens range is that there’s a style to suit every person, outfit and occasion. From platform boots to summer sandals, you can style Dr Martens every day of every season. Giving you some inspiration on how to style your docs, here are some of our favourite outfits.

For her and him. With their classic, minimalist style, Dr Marten’s sandals suit everything and anyone. Paired with a super casual jeans and t-shirt combo, Sophie and Harry have nailed fuss-free style.

Dr Marten’s shoes and a monochrome fit makes for an impactful outfit. Pairing an edgy leather jacket with the sleek Doc brogues perfectly combines mod and rocker style for a suave finished look.

Start their collection early with the range of Dr Marten’s kids’ styles for your mini-me. Playground-proof and durable, introduce them to the Doc’s attitude of individuality and independence from a young age.

Add a little edge to a more feminine look by topping off your outfit with a pair of Doc boots. Adding a bit of height, we love Saryba’s platform boots with this leopard skirt, perfectly combining floaty fabrics and tough leather.

Docs and socks is a combo we’re 100% here for. Alternatively, a classic Chelsea boot goes with absolutely everything and Dr Martens make the best.

#13 Which Dr Martens should I get?

We stock a wide range of men’s, women’s and children’s Dr Martens shoes here at allsoleole, with a style perfect for everyone.

If you are yet to discover the Dr Martens range, we recommend beginning with one of the brand’s most famous silhouettes such as the original 1460 boot or 1461 shoe. You can head over to our YouTube to get a close-up on style differences.


Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert