Boots– the footwear we southerners anxiously await the drop in temperature for a chance to wear. Our northern friends are probably sick of them by the time spring rolls around again. Officially, boots are footwear that fully cover the foot and some part of the leg, at least the ankle.
Boots come in many types and with many functions. They have evolved greatly over the years. There are rain, snow, hiking, duck, riding and work boots of all kinds. I’m going to focus mostly on fashion boots in this discussion. The fashion variety can serve a purpose, like keeping us warm, but are worn more for style than for any utilitarian function or purpose.
In the early 1900s, hem lines began to rise so the wearing of taller, knee length boots by women became popular. By the 1930s, their popularity declined and then surged again in the 1960s and 1970s. (source) Each style/brand of boot has its own unique history.
Let’s look at the three most popular types of fashion boots- ankle, mid-calf to knee high and over the knee.
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Ankle boots– These have been popular with women since the late 1700s and early 1800s, and are a style worn today by both men and women. In 1837, Queen Victoria had a pair of ankle boots designed for her that featured an elastic side gusset to be pulled on instead of lacing up. We know that boot today as the chelsea boot. We also call ankle boots of all sorts “booties” but I could not find the origin of that term. The term bootie is actually defined as “socks for babies” or disposable cloth shoes.
Ankle boots can be styled in numerous ways but are most commonly worn with skinny jeans, boot cut jeans, skirts and sometimes shorts. They come in a variety of styles and heels- low heel, flat, wedge, cut out, block heels, and more.
Related: 15 Ways to Wear Leopard Booties
Mid calf/ knee high
One of the most popular styles of the mid calf to knee high boot is the riding boot. Some debate that they are not in style anymore but I think they are a classic and you will never be totally out of style with a riding boot. As the name suggests, they were designed for horseback riding and date back to the 1600s and earlier. They were designed to protect the legs and calves from the saddles and the heels helped to keep a rider’s foot in the stirrup. Today’s version has a slightly lower heel and may be buckles and embellishments. This style looks great with skinny jeans and leggings. Other knee high styles may have higher heels and look great with skirts.
Related: 5 Ways to Wear Tall Taupe Boots
Over the Knee Boots
Over the knee boots, particularly thigh high versions were originally worn by men! They can be traced back to the 15th century. In the 19th century, women began to wear this style. Popularity came and went in the 60s and 70s and revived some in the 80s and 90s. They will always be around, so if you like them, rock them!
I’m probably never going to rock the thigh high style, but I did add a pair of over the knee boots to my closet last year.
When wearing over the knee and thigh high boots, it is best to let them be the statement piece and be more conservative with the rest of the outfit. When wearing them with skirts, show only a tiny bit a skin. If you have fitted over the knee boots, the skirt can cover the top of the boot.
What’s your favorite style of boot? Ankle, knee high or over the knee?