The following article was sourced from a Wikipedia page at the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_boot
A fashion boot is a boot worn for reasons of style or fashion (rather than for utilitarian purposes – e.g. not hiking boots, riding boots, rain boots, etc.). The term is usually applied to women’s boots. Fashion boots come in a wide variety of styles, from ankle to thigh-length, and are used for casual, formal, and business attire. Although boots were a popular style of women’s footwear in the Nineteenth Century, they were not recognized as a high fashion item until the 1960s. They became widely popular in the 1970s and have remained a staple of women’s winter wardrobes since then.
In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, ankle and calf-length boots were common footwear for women. Rising hemlines made longer styles of boots popular. In 1913, Denise Poiret, the wife of celebrated French couturier Paul Poiret, caused a sensation in Paris and New York by wearing knee-length boots in wrinkled Morocco leather. Designed by her husband, made by the bottier Favereau, and styled with a low heel and a square toe, she had versions in red, white, green, and yellow. By 1915 the New York Times was reporting that, inspired by Mme Poiret, women had adopted these "Russian boots" as an acceptable alternative to baring ankles and calves. By the 1920s Russian boots were available in a variety of styles, calf- or knee-length, with a Cuban or Louis heel, which could be pull-on, or zip-fastened for a closer fit. Worn with knee-length skirts, they often featured decorative features such as elaborate stitching or fur trims.
Russian boots were popular during the 1920s and the emergence of these tall boots for women was interpreted by some contemporary writers as a consequence of women’s transition from the “leisure class” to the world of business. But as their popularity grew, concerns over quality meant that where protection from the elements was needed, Russian boots were increasingly replaced by fashionable variants of the rubber Wellington boot. As roads were surfaced and horse-drawn transport gave way to the motor engine, the additional protection provided by boots was no longer needed. Boots were seen as restrictive and uncomfortable when compared with the new styles of fashionable shoe that complimented a more streamlined and simplified look for women's clothing. Although they were still popular as late as the beginning of the 1930s, within a few years Russian boots had fallen out of favour.
Rising hemlines and the availability of new, brightly coloured artificial materials such as PVC, combined to make boots an attractive fashion option for younger women. In 1965 André Courrèges released the first of his iconic white leather calf-length boots and designers such as Mary Quant, who launched her own 'Quant Afoot' line of footwear in 1967, produced inexpensive, machine-moulded plastic boots in a variety of different colours to be worn in tandem with mini-skirts. The rising price of leather during the 1960s made these plastic and vinyl boots a popular alternative to more traditional footwear. As skirts became even shorter in the late 1960s, there was a resurgence of interest in thigh-length boots or cuissardes. Pierre Cardin featured shiny black PVC thighboots as part of his futuristic 1968 couture collection and Beth Levine designed seamless, stretch vinyl and nylon stocking boots tall enough to do double duty as hosiery. The tallest boots from this period were so high that they were equipped with suspenders to hold them up. High laced boots, similar to those worn in Edwardian times, were also popular.
1970s and 1980s
Although fashion boots and particularly 'go-go boots' are often described as 'typical' of 1960s fashion, it wasn't until the 1970s that boots became a mainstream fashion staple for women; for many women in the 1960s, boots were seen as 'a superfluous accessory' more suitable for teenagers and college girls than a grown woman while, in 1968, 75% of office managers surveyed by the New York Times disapproved of their female staff wearing boots to work. By contrast, in 1977, boots made up 20 percent of all women's shoe sales in the United States and the end of the decade saw fashion boots occupying multiple pages of mainstream mail-order catalogues by companies such as Sears, Wards, and Kays.
The early 70s were typified by tight-fitting, vinyl boots rising to the knee or higher. These sometimes had mock lacing on the front and zipped up at the rear; they could be worn under the new maxi dresses, which had slits in them to show the leg. In summer, pale, high-legged boots in printed or open weave fabric were teamed with summery dresses; these often had extensive cut-outs, so that they were more like high-legged sandals than conventional boots. Platform-soled styles were also popular. The multi-coloured suede and canvas over-the-knee boots produced by the London store Biba were so sought-after that queues would form outside the store when a delivery was due. By the late 1970s, form-fitting, shaped-leg boots were being replaced with straight-legged designs, frequently worn over jeans or other pants, which were often pulled-on rather than zip-fastened. As well as high-heeled dress boots, more rugged designs, by companies such as Frye, were widely worn. The end of the decade saw a growth in popularity of shorter, calf-length boots, often worn layered with socks and tights, and a revival of interest in over-the-knee and thigh-length boots, which were popularized by punk and new wave performers such as Blondie’s Debbie Harry.
In contrast to the preceding decade, the 1980s saw a sharp decline in the popularity of high-legged boots. Instead, ankle boots in a variety of styles were particularly popular, as were low-heeled, calf-length, pull-on styles. Knee length boots, if worn at all, tended to be low-heeled, pull-on styles, sometimes referred to as “riding boots,” that were combined with long skirts. In the late 1980s, over-the-knee boots made a reappearance; these were loose-fitting, low-heeled styles in suede, often brightly coloured or decorated with brocade. In 1990, Karl Lagerfeld included thigh-length satin boots in his Fall/Winter Couture collection for Chanel, using the boots as an alternative to leggings, but it wasn’t until the following decade that the inherent elegance of classic dress boot styles was rediscovered.
1990s and 2000s
By the turn of the 21st Century, fashion boots in a variety of styles were back to the same level of ubiquity that they had enjoyed in the 1970s. A pair of knee-length boots, often with metal accents, was widely regarded as a must-have wardrobe item for the clothes-conscious woman, paired with knee length skirts and dresses for business and casual wear. Ankle boots also remained very popular and in the latter part of the first decade knee-length styles worn over pants, especially jeans, were common. In 2009 thigh-length boots were a subject of major attention by the fashion press, receiving guarded approval and a level of mainstream acceptance that they had never previously achieved; this trend continued in 2010 and by the following year over-the-knee styles had become commonplace. Also in 2011, ankle boots were being promoted as a popular summer alternative to sandals.
Fashion boots generally employ the same range of soles and heels as are found in shoes. The defining character of the boot is the length of the shaft. Ankle boots generally have a shaft height of less than 8 inches (20 cm), calf-length boots 8–15 inches (20–38 cm), knee-length boots 15–19 inches (38–48 cm), while over-the knee boots have shaft lengths of 19 inches (38 cm) or more; however these divisions are arbitrary and at the boundaries the decision as to whether a boot is, for example, calf-length or knee-length is largely subjective.
The shaft of a fashion boot can be fitted (i.e. following the curve of the wearer’s calf), straight-legged, or loose-fitting (or “slouchy”). In close-fitting boots, flexibility is achieved by the use of gussets; slits in the material either at the top of the shaft (in knee-length boots), or wider panels at the sides of the shaft (in ankle boots), which are backed with elasticized fabric. Compression folds around the ankle allow for movement of the foot. In over-the-knee boots, flexion of the knee is usually attained by a vent at the back of the boot, running from the top of the shaft to the back of the knee. This may be closed with laces, elasticized, or left open. Where a vent is not used, freedom of movement is achieved either by having the top of the shaft flare outwards above the knee, or making all or part of the shaft out of a stretchable material.
A variety of fasteners are seen in fashion boots. Laces are commonly used in ankle boots, but are too time-consuming for longer styles. Zip fasteners are widely employed in all styles of boot – they may run the entire length of the shaft, or just the ankle and lower calf – these partial-length zips make it easier to insert the foot into the toe of the boot by relaxing the fit around the ankle. Pull-on boots have no fasteners and tend to have a looser fit than zip or lace-up boots; they sometimes have a loop of leather at the top of the shaft, called a boot-strap, to assist with pulling the boot on. Finally, button-fastened boots were common at the beginning of the last century but are rarely seen today. If present, buttons are usually employed as design accents on boots; other decorative features include straps, buckles, studs, and decorative stitching.
IN POPULAR CULTURE
There are numerous appearances and references to fashion boots in popular culture. A small selection is shown here:
Since the 1970s, calf- and knee-length go-go boots have been part of the uniform of many of the cheerleading squads associated with professional sports teams. Examples include:
"[Women's] footwear in the 1960s can be summed up in a single word: boots." (The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through American History, 1900 to the Present, 2008)
“Boots, boots, and more boots are marching up and down like seven leaguers, climbing to new leg lengths” (Vogue, 1963)
"Boots are usually a superfluous accessory, more at home in a college girl's closet than in the wardrobe of an elegant woman" (Genevive Antoine Dariaux, 1964)
“‘Twas around the time that women were wearing high leather boots to dinner parties and everything” (Edna O’Brien, Girls in Their Married Bliss, 1964)
"Why boots? Because they give the best proportion in the world. Because, taken top to toe, every woman looks five-hundred times more dashing in boots than without. That's why boots" (Vogue, 1967)
“Boots moved into prominence the same time The Pill did. Both were symbols of a woman’s new freedom and emancipation.” (Beth Levine, The Boston Globe, 2 June 1970)
“Boots not only look good, they feel good. How far and how fast can you walk in a pair of high-heeled pumps?" (Cheap Chic, 1975)
"... the professional woman's default uniform of the moment: a smart knit dress in a dark color, worn with knee-high black leather boots." (Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 10 Jan 2011)
"Shoes may be able to carry a woman around town, but showing off a pair of boots can be reason enough to leave the house." (Bradley Quinn, The Boot, 2010)
For more information about fashion boots, please click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_boot