A lug sole is a “thick rubber sole with deep indentations that improves the stability and traction of utility wear”. It is common in hiking boots and the like for practical reasons. Over the years, casual fashion footwear has adopted the lug sole as a fun design feature. Lug soles probably made the biggest fashion statement back in the ‘90s when just about every style of footwear could be bought with a lug sole. Since then, the trend took a backseat, although it seems to be gaining momentum now. 

Boots are an expected pairing for lug soles although ballet flats, sneakers, wedges, loafers and sandals are available with lug soles too. Lug soles are for the most part chunky, but more subtle versions with less pronounced indentations and thinner soles do exist. Some lug soles are platformed, while others look fairly flat. The chunky sole generally adds weight to the shoe, but sometimes foamy rubber lug soles are lightweight. 

Most of my clients wear lug soles in one form or another. If it’s not in the form of sports gear, it’s usually with a pair of casual fashion boots that are easy to pair with jeans. Lug soles on non-boot style footwear is more of an acquired taste, and fewer of my clients wear those. 

The lug sole adds an instant casual integrity and chunkiness to a shoe, which is why I’m not all that drawn to it. I prefer a more refined looking shoe, even when it’s casual. Often I find the extra weight off-putting. Plus, I think I’m still recovering from wearing far too many pairs of uncomfortable lug soled shoes back in the ‘90s. That said, I have one pair of brown lug soled casual mid-calf Donald Pliner boots that I wear with pleasure in nasty weather. I wore them a lot last week when it was raining cats and dogs in Seattle. They are also great to wear when it’s icy or there’s a light dusting of snow. But I’m leaving it at that. I’m weary of adding more fashionable lugged soles to my wardrobe because they’re generally too chunky and casual for my style persona. I do appreciate them on others though.

Over to you. Do you wear fashionable lug soles, or are they strictly a look that you wear when sporting gear.