A Semi-Definitive Pairing of Dr. Martens Shoes and Albums

Dr. Martens boots have a long and fraught history, winding their way from post-World War II Europe into the hearts and closets of many people in various subcultures (hi, goths). They have staying power, thanks to their comfortable design, durability, and iconic look. However, one question hasn’t been answered in all this time: which style of Dr. Martens boots pairs best with which album?

The 1460 Boot & Damned Damned Damned by The Damned

on the left: the album cover for Damned Damned Damned by The Damned. four english punks are covered in whipped cream. two wear sunglasses. one is licking the top of another's head. one is resting his head on the shoulder of the one who is being licked. the fourth is in shadow.

on the right: the 1460 Boot by doc marten. a black platform high rise boot. probably what you think of when you think of doc martens.

For the better part of their lifespan, Dr. Martens shoes were made in England, making them a tactile part of British subcultures and fashion. What better pairing is there for these classic boots than 1977’s Damned Damned Damned, the debut album of British punk icons The Damned? A perfect mix of classic punk and a goth sensibility, you won’t be able to stop yourself from busting loose in your 1460s when “New Rose” comes on, guaranteed!

The 1461 Smooth Leather Platform Shoes & Young Americans by David Bowie

on the left: the album cover for Young Americans by David Bowie. the headshot of a man with feathery blonde hair who is backlit and smoking a cigarette.

on the right: the 1461 Smooth Leather Platform Shoes by doc marten. a black platform low rise shoe in an oxford kind of style with laces.

Any kind of platform shoe gives off a certain kind of glamorous vibe. Why not embrace one of the most glamorous vibes by breaking your Dr. Martens in by busting a move to Young Americans, the 1975 album from the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie? Full of funk, Bowie’s charisma, and jams galore, there’s no better compliment to the timeless glam of a Dr. Martens platform. Whether it’s the title track, or the iconic “Fame,” you might just capture some of Bowie’s unique swagger walking down the street in your platforms, with twangy guitars and punctuated bass as your soundtrack.

The 8065 Smooth Leather Mary Jane Shoes & Retired From Sad, New Career in Business by Mitski

on the left: the album cover for Retired From Sad, New Career in Business by Mitski. a woman in a blue dress catches herself as she falls backwards onto brick pavers

on the right: the 8065 Smooth Leather Mary Jane Shoes by doc marten. a black platform low rise shoe with two mary jane buckle straps across the top of the foot.

These dainty additions to the Dr. Martens lineup calls for an album that’s dainty, but also incredibly powerful in its vulnerability. Mitski’s second album, Retired From Sad, New Career in Business is full of the hallmarks of Mitski’s songwriting: yearning, the pain of growing up, fears of the future, and heartbreak. Just picture it: skipping along to “Strawberry Blond” in the Mary Janes in the summer, hot sidewalk squeaking underfoot, or walking home in the cold winter rain, “I Want You” playing through your headphones as your shoes splash through puddles, silence on the other side of the headphones. What’s more versatile than that?

Voss II & Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain

on the left: the album cover for Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain. a woman in a white dress sits in a wood paneled room below a painting of jesus

on the right: the Voss II sandal by doc marten. a black platform sandal with thick criss crossing straps.

Ethereal but goth as hell is an apt description for both the Voss II shoe, one of Dr. Martens sandals, and Ethel Cain’s debut album, Preacher’s Daughter. Perfect for exploring the decay of America while walking around your local abandoned strip mall, listening to “Thoroughfare” or “A House in Nebraska,” the Voss II’s have an industrial design while retaining the freedom of a sandal and the gothic sensibility that Dr. Martens have embraced over time. The album is a perfect match, telling a tragic story of a woman who’s trying to find freedom, but discovers obliteration in the process.

Among these albums and shoes, there are plenty of looks and fodder for great jam sessions to be found! If you’re feeling bold, you could even mix and match, and regardless you’ll be looking cool as hell and jamming to something worthwhile. 

Alejandra Martinez

Alejandra Martinez

Alejandra Martinez is a Tejana writer and archivist. She has been published in The Texas Observer, Pomegranate Magazine, and We Got This Covered. You can often find her reading a good book, watching a movie, or writing at your local coffee shop.
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