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Having recently celebrated its milestone 90th anniversary this year, heritage Australian footwear brand R.M. Williams is known for their iconic boots – but the million dollar question remains – are they worth the price tag? This post is a tad overdue – since I bought the boots over 18 months ago, I’ve never received so many questions about a particular item in my wardrobe as I have with these! If you’ve been debating a pair, I share my comprehensive thoughts about them as well my answers to the FAQs I receive so they’re all in the one spot.
While R.M. Williams don’t hold themselves out to be a luxury brand, it’s no secret they’ve put a high premium on the quality of the handcrafted nature of their products. You’re looking at price tags of $649AUD / $539USD for a pair of their boots which put them squarely within the luxury price bracket. (And don’t even bother waiting for a sale or a discount, because it just doesn’t happen!) They pride themselves on sticking to basic principles of top-quality craftsmanship ensuring their boots stand the test of time. Reginald Murray Williams himself has proudly stated “You can screw them up and do what you like. You can’t destroy them.” I appreciate that reputation also potentially carries a fear they’re too stiff, but fear not – they’re simply just well-made durable boots.
What’s inside an R.M. Williams boot? – diagram via R.M. Williams
The boots were traditionally made for men and women who worked the unforgiving Australian land 90 years ago, but today, they’re loved by Australians from both the outback and the inner city, thanks to their ability to be styled with everything – from your favourite pair of jeans, to a spring dress, to a tailored suit. 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 from their Adelaide workshop. They’re not built like regular Chelsea boots – they’re so much better.
L: R.M. Williams boots, Marks & Spencer trench coat* (sz UK 6, now sold out, new season version linked), M&S linen shirt* (sz UK 8), M&S trousers* (sz UK 8, sold out – new season version linked), Ray Ban sunglasses, Celine bag (review here); R: R.M. Williams boots, Marle top (sold out), Nobody Denim jeans, Celine bag (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses
It took some effort to pick my perfect pair and given the lack of reviews of each of the styles online, I tried on as many of their styles as possible. I ordered a few pairs from The Iconic (thanks to their free returns policy) and I also popped into the George Street store in Sydney to try on some of their popular heeled styles – the Adelaide Cuban Heel, Millicent and Lady Yearling, the last of which came out as the winner. The Lady Yearling style is one of their newer releases – it strikes the perfect balance between casual and dressy, thanks to the almond toe.
A pair of R.M. Williams boots had been on my radar for many years before I decided to buy them (it took a while for me to get my head around the then $595 price tag), and I haven’t been concerned about the price since I bought them. They’ve become a wardrobe staple since I bought them and I only wish I added them to my wardrobe sooner!
L: R.M. Williams Boots, Toteme Jacket (style sold out, I’ve linked the new season version), Everlane cashmere knit* (sz XS – new season version linked), Everlane High Rise Skinny Jeans* (sz 27, Ankle), Celine bag (sold out, review here), Celine sunglasses; R: R.M. Williams Boots, Toteme coat (sz XS – new season version linked), Everlane cashmere knit* (sz S – new season version linked), Nobody Denim jeans, Gucci belt (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses, Celine bag (review here)
Which style should I go for?
It really comes down to your personal taste, but I truly believe that there is a pair of R.M. Williams boots to suit your style. I have a blog post here where I share a try-on and a brief rundown of each of the styles. I focused on heeled styles that were made of their traditional yearling leather.
Millicent – a pointed needled toe style boot with a cuban-inspired heel. These remind me a lot of cowboy boots.
Adelaide Cuban Heel (not to be confused with the traditional Adelaide boots) – a relaxed jodhpur style boot that sit on the ankles. Rather than the traditional block heel, they have a cuban heel (which has a slightly curved back).
Lady Yearling – an almond toe boot with a sleek silhouette and block heel which sit just above the ankle.
Are they stiff?
Yes, but they’re not uncomfortable. I have had a few people reach out to me to say that they’ve found the boots to be too stiff but that has not been my experience. And with wear, the boots have naturally softened but they still provide the durability that I really like. The boots are constructed from a single piece of leather that are blocked to shape and closed with one seam. While the leather upper is very strong, there is cork filler in the sole which provides that comfort when walking.
Are they comfortable?
Yes. Put it this way, aside from my sneakers, this is the only pair of shoes that I can actually walk into the office. It takes me roughly one hour to walk in, and while it’s a relatively easy flat terrain, I also spend the rest of my work day in the boots too!
L: R.M. Williams Boots, Everlane blazer* (sold out, new season version linked – I wear the size 0), Everlane cashmere knit* (sz S – new season version linked), Nobody Denim jeans, Gucci belt (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses, Celine bag (review here); R: R.M. Williams Boots, Everlane puffer jacket* (sz XS), Everlane jeans* (sz 26, Short), Gucci belt (review here), Ray Ban sunglasses, Celine bag (review here)
Does sizing run true to size?
Yes. They offer a full size range (including half sizes). Something to note is that David Jones and The Iconic only stock full sizes whereas the R.M. Williams stores (both in-store and online) stock the full size range. I’m a size AU 6.5 and while I initially wanted to buy my pair at David Jones (as I had vouchers to use as well as an American Express offer) the size AU 7 just wasn’t a perfect fit and I ended up buying a size 6.5 pair from the R.M. Williams store.
If you’re a half size like me, I wouldn’t compromise considering these are a pair of boots that you’ll be wearing for life. I’m still able to wear a pair of thick socks with mine during the dead of winter, but equally they mould to my feet when I’m wearing thinner socks during the warmer/transitional season period.
Chestnut or black?
Both are great, but the chestnut is a clear winner for me. It’s iconic and easy to style (even with black! I mean, just look at the outfits I’ve featured in this post!).
How do they fair in the rain?
Pretty well. I’ve worn these on many rainy Sydney days and they’ve been excellent. No wet socks or any of the usual problems you encounter with bad shoes during wet weather. That being said, I stick to my gumboots when the forecast is heavy downpour. While they’re heavy duty, I still want to preserve them.
How do you care for them?
Good question. Since I bought these 18 months ago, I’ve yet to tend to these! While you might think I’m being neglectful, I just haven’t seen the need for it yet. I do have the R.M. Williams leather conditioner on hand though (my husband has a pair of the Craftsman boots and he’s very good with his boot admin).
Are they worth the price?
Ah, the million dollar question. Tricky to navigate too considering these boots have gone through recent rounds of price increases. I appreciate the current prices are pretty steep despite them being well-made. Personally, if I’m splurging on shoes, I’d rather spend my hard-earned cash on practical shoes like these as opposed to uncomfortable heels like I used to. While there are lots of Chelsea boots available on the market, I don’t consider any compare to the iconic R.M. Williams boots. If you’ve got the budget, I say do it – you won’t regret it.
L: R.M. Williams Boots, Toteme coat (sz XS – new season version linked), Everlane cashmere knit* (sz S – new season version linked), Everlane jeans*, Gucci belt (review here), Celine bag (review here, affordable dupe here), Ray Ban sunglasses; R: R.M. Williams Boots, Toteme coat (sz XS – new season longer version linked), Everlane cashmere knit* (sz S – new season version linked), Nobody Denim jeans, Celine bag (review here, affordable dupe here), Ray Ban sunglasses
I hope you found this R.M. Williams boots review to be useful.
If you have any questions, feel free to pop them into the comments section below and I’ll respond as soon as I can!
As always, thanks for stopping by!
P.S. Watch my latest YouTube video where I talk you through the only 5 pairs of shoes you need (spoiler alert, the R.M. WIlliams boots might be part of that list).