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You’d be hard-pressed to find a list of Australian fashion icons without an R.M. Williams entry. With an almost 90-year history, R.M. Williams’ boots have earned cult status in the footwear arena and are widely considered to be the national boot of Australia.
I’ve wanted a pair of R.Ms for the longest time and I’ve finally bitten the bullet with my very first pair. I tried on a few styles to find the pair that I liked the most and while it was by no means an easy decision to make, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my thoughts on the different styles that I tried (as well as the style I ultimately chose!).
Originally crafted for the rugged (and unforgiving) Australian outback, the boots are now a popular choice amongst urbanites. And what started as a mail order business back in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams after the Great Depression, flourished into an Australian success story. To this day, they still use the same production making techniques and every single pair of boots is handcrafted from a single piece of leather in Adelaide.
While they have an overall ‘everyman’ aesthetic, the prices of R.Ms put them squarely in the luxury category. You’re looking at upwards of $595 for a pair of their boots and it took me a while to get my head around this. (Also, they hardly go on sale or included in any discounted promotion.) The brand stands firm by its pricing, proudly touting “You can screw them up and do what you like. You can’t destroy them.”
The iconic Chelsea boots come in five styles for women – Millicent, Lady Yearling, Maya, Adelaide (in flat and heeled) and Craftsman. From time to time, seasonal designs are released but for purposes of this post, I’m sticking to their classic line, as they were the only boots I properly considered.
The three styles that I was most interested in and tried were the Millicent, Lady Yearling and Adelaide. While I’ll go into the different design aspects of those styles, all the boots I tried were crafted from a single piece of yearling leather, had elasticised gussets on the side and woven branded pull tugs.
So let’s get to it.
- Pointed needled toe
- 4.5cm cuban-inspired heel
Initially, I had my heart set on the Millicent style. The pointy toe and low heels seemed to be right up my alley and I thought it would be a nice feminine take on the classic Chelsea. While I liked how they look from the front, I wasn’t so sure about the side profile. I put it down to the fact that I’m petite and I’m pretty sure all you taller folk out there won’t have the same concerns.
- Rounded toe
- 4.5cm block heel
- Sits above the ankle
The rounded toe on this style is a sleek and narrow shape. The boot finishes just above the ankle and it provides an overall sleek silhouette. Unlike the Millicent which has a cuban heel, the Lady Yearling has a block heel. I tried this style on in both chestnut and black and had a hard time picking my favourite between the two.
- Rounded toe
- 4.5cm cuban heel
- Sits on the ankle
I consider these to be the most relaxed boot of the styles that I tried. They’re still polished but given they’re a jodhpur boot, they sit on the ankle and don’t provide as sleek a silhouette as the Lady Yearling. The Adelaide style is the newest addition to the R.M. Williams family. It was introduced in 2016 after R.M. Williams was sold to overseas investors (perhaps in a show of heritage?) It was subsequently returned to Australian hands in late 2020.
What style did I ultimately choose?
I ummed and ahhed a lot about which style to choose but I ultimately settled for the Lady Yearling in Chestnut with a rubber sole. You can expect a comprehensive review of these once I’ve given them a proper crack, so watch this space! But having only just purchased them and worn them a couple of times already, I’m so stoked that they’re now part of my collection.
Where to Shop
I initially bought the Millicent boot from The Iconic to try as they always have such a friendly returns policy (and were running a promotion). But as I was waiting for them to arrive, I popped into the R.M. Williams store on my lunch break to try on the different styles properly. Personally, that in-store experience was hard to beat. I also paid a visit to David Jones but it’s worth noting that they don’t carry all the styles nor do they stock half-sizes.
I’d recommend the R.M. Williams stores as well as their online store which carries their complete line and offers the different soles (leather and rubber options). I’m a half size, so I ended up purchasing my boots from the R.M. Williams store in Westfield Sydney. They never run promotions on their shoes so I swallowed the lump in my throat and paid full freight.
Have you had your eye on these boots? And do you have any questions about the boots that you’d like me to factor in for my review? Be sure to pop them into the comments section below.
As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you found my R.M. Williams boots try on to be helpful.