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I found Doc Martens boots you don't have to break in

The 1460 Pascal Virginia boots are comfortable from the first step.

Girl sitting on a picnic table wearing Doc Martens boots. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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  1. Dr. Martens 1460 Women's Pascal Virginia Leather Boots

I’ve been looking for a pair of perfectly broken-in combat boots since I saw Liv Tyler in Empire Records when I was a teenager. Her lace-up boots, paired with a plaid skirt and fuzzy sweater, began my fascination with ‘90s fashion. I found my shoe soulmate in Dr. Martens. Originally created as a modest British work boot in 1901 and commercialized in the 1960s, Docs grew deep roots in 1970s punk and 1990s grunge culture. I love these boots so much that I’ve spent many hours browsing Poshmark to find that perfect vintage pair. I paid more than $200 for a purple corduroy pair from the ‘90s and even more for a velvet pair with satin laces that are discontinued.

Fortunately, the fashion industry is on my side with my Doc Martens obsession and ‘90s style in general, from Mom jeans, to overalls, to socks with sandals. I’m also lucky that after many blisters from the breaking-in period of the stiff-leather original boot, the company released the Pascal Virginia (in women's sizes only for $150), which tout a much softer shaft made of fine-grain leather. I knew I had to get my hands on them (er, feet in them) to see if they had a less tortuous breaking-in process.

OG Docs versus Pascal Virginia

Girl walking in Doc Martens boots.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

These boots are so comfortable to walk in, there's no need to worry about blisters.

If you’ve owned a pair of the original Docs, which the company calls the 1460 lace-up boots, you know how painful they can be fresh out of the box. In fact, breaking in that stiff leather is a process that can take years. But it is possible, with patience and a lot of mink oil. The great thing about the Pascal Virginias is that the leather is much softer to start with, which the company claims “feels worn in from the first step.” While you’ll still need to break in the instep if you have wider feet, the shaft comes ready to wear.

My first pair of OG Docs was excruciating the first time I wore them, especially because I didn’t know that I needed to wear thick socks. I brought them on a weekend trip to New York and had searing pain in my heels with each step as the hard leather tore into my skin. Understandably, I gave up and never wore them again. I eventually found a pair of winterized Dr. Martens that I wore into the ground, which had faux fur inside the shaft to protect my heels from blisters.

What I like about Doc Martens 1460 Pascal Virginia Boots

Photo of the back of Doc Martens boots.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

With their soft leather shaft and bouncing soles, these are boots that will keep your feet happy.

Score one for truth in advertising: The Doc Martens Pascal Virginias are more comfortable from the get-go than my OG Docs ever were. I never got a blister when breaking them in, even without wearing thick socks. Looks-wise, you may not be able to tell the difference: The Pascal Virginias have the same rubber soles and yellow stitching as the originals. They come in a variety of colors, including basic black and white, plus seasonal colors, which this year features a bright blue.

One of my favorite things about Dr. Marten's shoes is how they have the ability to turn any outfit edgy, from a pair of basic jeans and a mock neck sweater to a floral dress and black tights. They are made of high quality materials and will last you years. They are also shoes that look better broken-in, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them if they become scratched or faded. The "air-cushioned" sole is extremely comfortable and will keep your feet happy for long periods of time.

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What I don’t like about Doc Martens 1460 Pascal Virginia Boots

My biggest complaint about the Pascal Virginias—and Doc Martens in general—is that they are tough to find a fit if you’re in between sizes. They come in whole sizes only from 5 to 11 and run big. On the other hand, the women’s boots run more narrow than the men's/unisex sizes, so if you have wide feet there may be a little pinching across the instep when you first start wearing them. I am usually a 7.5 in most boots but sized down to a 7 Women's in the Pascal Virginias, as even the women's cut was too wide for my feet and they slid around inside the 8s.

Although the shaft of the Pascal Virginias requires no breaking in, the boots are narrower in the instep and may not be instantly comfortable. A handy trick can be taking them to a cobbler and having the instep stretched for you, which can hasten the breaking-in process. Because the leather on the shaft is thinner and pretreated to be softer, these boots may not have the same longevity as the OG Dr. Martens boots. A unisex boot called simply “Pascal” is also available in sizes 6 to14 in standard men’s width. It appears to have many similar attributes to the Virginia Pascals, but we haven’t tested these to confirm they are as supple.

Why Doc Martens 1460 Pascal Virginia Boots are worth it

Doc Martens boots from the side.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

These boots have the classic Doc Martens look, with a more comfortable design!

If the process of breaking in Doc Martens has scared you away or caused you not to wear yours as much, the Pascal Virginias are the boots for you. The soft leather paired with the traditional Docs style will give you the look you want without the blisters.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Dr. Martens 1460 Women's Pascal Virginia Leather Boots

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