I had a brief obsession with Chelsea boots.
For a while, it’s all I’d wear.
I’ve moved on, and I rotate through different styles now. But every once in a while, I see a good looking Chelsea that makes me reconsider why I wear anything else.
After several months of wearing the Thursday Boots Duke, my verdict is in. Keep reading to get the full story and find out whether or not this boot is right for you.
Thursday Duke Overview
The Duke is Thursday’s original Chelsea boot and was launched shortly after the brand itself was born in 2014.
Like many of Thursday’s other popular boots, the Duke aims to offer modern style and high quality construction under $200. Thursday’s most popular boot, and my personal favorite, is the Captain (see how my Thursday Captains have held up after four years of wearing).
The Duke is more of an “everyday” type Chelsea. The rubber sole and wider construction make it less dressy than its counterpart, the Thursday Cavalier.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Thursday Duke
I’ll go into greater detail about the quality later, but for now, I’ll say this: considering the price, these boots are absolutely worth the money.
So the biggest consideration is how you plan on wearing your new boots.
Do you need something to pair with jeans and chinos for a regular commute to the office? Something that looks good for Saturday afternoon coffee dates? Then the Duke is a fantastic choice.
If you want something that’s more dressy, however—something that can pair with a suit—then you’ll want to try the Thursday Cavalier. The Cavalier is a bit slimmer, has a better disguised welt, and features a leather sole. It’s a better choice for more formal outfits (though any Chelsea still has a measure of casual-ness to it).
Between the two, I prefer the Duke because I like the more casual style and the everyday nature of the boots works better for my lifestyle.
Thursday Boots Duke Review
I picked up my Thursday Dukes in the popular Honey Suede. I love the color because it works equally well in fall, winter, and spring (summer is for sneakers).
I’m no stranger to Thursday Boots, so there are a few things I take for granted here that are actually quite impressive: the Duke features a 360-degree Goodyear welt (known as the gold-standard for shoe construction), a stacked leather heel, and a nice 5mm rubber toplift.
These features are pretty much universally standard on all Thursday Boots, but it’s worth noting because if the Duke is going to be your first pair of well-built boots, you’re going to be impressed with the jump in quality from department store boots.
The Duke is an everyday Chelsea. It’s fairly slim and has a modern styling. But the Goodyear welt and solid rubber studded sole push it toward the casual end of the style spectrum.
I think the Duke pairs best with jeans and chinos, though I wouldn’t wear these with a suit.
Leather Quality and Care
Thursday offers six different leather options at the time of writing. I opted for the Honey Suede because I felt it was the most versatile, but I’ve also had experience with the Thursday Chrome Brown and Dark Olive Suede leather options on different boots (and I’m happy with both).
The Honey Suede is really impressive—Thursday’s proprietary WeatherSafe suede goes through an unusual tanning process that makes this suede far more weather resistant than what many other brands offer.
WeatherSafe suede is tanned in such a way that natural hydrophobic oils and waxes are infused into the core of the leather, so there’s no amount of wear and tear that will make the weatherproofing “wear off”.
A lot of brands advertise weatherproof suede, but it’s usually just a silicone spray coating on top of the leather that wears off after about three months of wear. That’s not the case for Thursday’s WeatherSafe Suede.
The upper leather on my Honey Suede Dukes is 1.8mm thick, and the full grain glove leather lining adds an additional 1mm of thickness. In total, that’s 2.8mm of leather, which is plenty to keep your feet insulated in the cold, but it’s not so thick that it’s uncomfortable.
Caring for this leather is easy—just use a suede brush once every few months to restore the knap, and if you get any stain on it, you can lift the stain with a suede eraser.
The Thursday Duke features a rubber studded sole in the style of the popular Dainite sole, but I’ve actually found that the Thursday stud sole has a little more grip in wet conditions than a Dainite, so I prefer it.
The midsole is cork with a DuraEVA comfort strip, and the insole is Poron. These materials combine to make for a very comfortable boot. If you’re used to Red Wings or any other heritage boot, you’ll be surprised when you slip these on—they’re as comfortable as sneakers.
Some people say that the midsole gives out within about a year—the phenomenon is referred to as the “Thursday Drop.” I own over 10 pairs of Thursdays, many of which are several years old, and I’ve never once experienced this. Your foot should sink into the midsole a bit as the cork moulds to your foot, but that’s what breaking your boot in is all about. It only becomes more comfortable.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the sole materials on the Duke. It performs really well in the way that I normally wear these boots—it’s comfortable, lightweight, offers plenty of support, and keeps me upright on wet concrete.
Another important note: the Duke features a fiberglass shank, which helps add arch support and stability, but keeps the weight down, which is an ideal combo for everyday wear.
Fit and Sizing
As with all my Thursday Boots, I ordered a half-size smaller than my sneaker size.
I’m normally a size 10.5 in sneakers, and I got the size 10 Dukes. I did the same for my Captains, Presidents, Diplomats, etc. The fit is spot on.
I like that the Duke also has a wide option available, though you can only get a EE/EEE size in the Honey Suede.
Still, Thursday carries a huge variety of sizes, from 6-16, which is impressive.
There are no pinch-points in the Duke: it’s comfortable throughout, and the narrow toe hasn’t presented any issues for me after wearing this for about 20 miles of walking.
There’s no substantial break in period with the Thursday Boots Duke. The leather isn’t so thick that you have a lengthy creasing process, and because the insoles and midsole have a decent amount of synthetic material, they’re soft and squishy right out of the box.
The leather will stretch out a little as you wear these more, but the Duke’s keep their shape really well. I add cedar shoe trees to my Chelsea boots because there’s not a lot of structure in the toe and they can warp as they age. I try to use shoe trees in all my boots, but with my collection of boots growing, it’s hard to keep up.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
I’m always impressed reading through the reviews on Thursday’s site because many reviewers say they’re on their second, third, or fourth pair of Thursday Boots.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I have over 10 pairs, but still…
Many reviewers who’d order the wrong size were impressed with Thursday’s customer service, noting how quickly they were either reimbursed, given credit, or the immediate exchange process.
Thursday Boots Duke Alternatives
Thursday Boots Cavalier
The Thursday Cavalier at one point was my favorite Chelsea boot, but the Duke overthrew it. But you may prefer the Cavalier because it’s a more dressy Chelsea.
You can pair the Cavalier with a suit, but I wouldn’t recommend the same for the Duke.
Because the Cavalier has a leather sole, a shorter heel, and a slimmer silhouette, it’s a better match for more formal outfits.
The price is roughly the same and the quality is just as outstanding, so you really can’t go wrong with either boot.
But because I rarely go formal with my clothes, and wear a lot of jeans and chinos, the Duke is still my go-to.
This is a pricier boot, but the styling is similar—just a little more refined.
The Velasca Magut features a Blake stitch construction, which is more traditional with Italian footwear (Velasca is an Italian brand), and while it’s not as weather resistant as a Goodyear welt, it does have the advantage of being a little lighter and a little slimmer in the profile.
There are far fewer leather options and size options with the Velasca Magut, but the leathers are higher quality. Whether or not that’s worth the extra $100 or so is up to you.
For me, the Duke is still my go-to, but if you want something classic and a bit more refined, and you’re not sweating the extra bill, then the Velasca Magut is a great choice.
My Thoughts Overall On the Thursday Duke
What I Like
The variety of leather options is great—there are a few classic options, and a few style-forward choices available.
When you combine the cork midsole, Poron insole, and DuraEVA comfort strip, you get a very comfortable, walkable boot.
Thursday’s WeatherSafe suede is tanned with hydrophobic compounds to its core, so it will always be weather resistant, unlike other suede boots that just have a silicon spray on the outside of the leather.
The superior construction quality and materials are a phenomenal value for a boot under $200.
What I Don’t Like
I’d like to see more wide EE/EEE sizes available (though if you have wide feet, you can find the Honey Suede Duke in EE/EEE).
Who is the Thursday Duke for?
The Thursday Duke is a fantastic boot if you’re looking for a casual Chelsea that’s easy to walk in and you can wear often through fall, winter, and spring. It’s a versatile and comfortable Chelsea that doesn’t sacrifice on style points.
For the price, there’s no other Chelsea boot that matches the style, comfort, and quality of the Duke.
Of all the leather options, I like the Honey Suede because it’s such a versatile color that will match my fall, winter, and spring palette’s. And I love that the WeatherSafe suede is tanned with water-resistant compounds so that I never need to reapply waterproofing spray and I don’t need to worry about staining the suede.
The Thursday Duke is one of my most comfortable boots because of the Poron insole, cork midsole, and DuraEVA comfort strip. They feel like sneakers, and it’s easy to put in serious walking miles with the Duke.
If you want a dressy Chelsea you can wear with a suit, choose the Thursday Cavalier. But if you want an everyday boot that’s stylish and can take a decent amount of wear and tear, then the Thursday Duke is my top choice.
Are Thursday Boots good for rain?
Thursday’s WeatherSafe suede boots can handle rain well, and so can their full grain leathers. I wouldn’t stand in the rain for long periods of time in them, but if you’re caught in a storm, the water shouldn’t affect your boots long term.
Should I get the Thursday Duke or Cavalier Chelsea boot?
The Thursday Duke is a better choice for everyday casual wear, and the Thursday Cavalier is a more dressy Chelsea boot that can pair with a suit. Choose your boot based on formality level. The Cavalier can go more formal than the Duke, but the Duke is more versatile in the weather.