Leather boots were worn as early as the nineteenth century, but they didn’t really become a fashion item until the 1960s. In the 1970s they became popular in the mainstream and have been ever since.
The 1960s saw the first appearance of leather boots as a high street item. This was despite a rise in the price of leather, which had made cheap plastic boots briefly popular. The disadvantages of this artificial material were quickly obvious and leather became the material of choice for fashion designers. André Courrèges’ famous tall boots were released in 1965, sparking a trend for white leather boots everywhere.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that leather boots entered the mainstream of fashion. By 1977 boots made up 20% of all women’s shoe sales in the United States. In the late 1970s, form-fitting boots were losing out in popularity to more straight-leg designs, often worn over jeans. The end of this decade saw shorter, calf-length boots increase in popularity and they were often worn layered with socks and tights.
During the roaring eighties, high-rise boots become less popular. Instead, a variety of ankle boots held sway, as did low-heel, calf-length, pull-on styles. These were often paired with longer skirts. The end of the decade saw a comeback from thigh-high boots. These were low-heel, loose-fitting boots in suede, often brightly colored.
The 1990s explosion in the dance club culture saw both knee-length and platform-soled boots become very popular. Some footwear designers toyed with the idea of adopting these styles, but they were not taken up by mainstream fashion. By 1993 boots were so popular that Vogue declared it was “The Year of the Boot.” All sorts of styles flourished, all designed to be worn with any hem length and at any time.
In the late 1990s, fashion boots remained as popular and as widespread as they were back in the 1970s. Any clothes-conscious and fashionable woman was almost bound to own at least one pair of knee-length boots, often with metal accents. She would wear them with a knee-length skirt for both casual and for business wear.
Ankle boots also kept their popularity, whilst in the latter part of the first decade of the new millennium knee-length leather boots worn over jeans were common. In 2009, thigh-high boots became a new favorite with the fashion press, whilst in 2012 the fashion was for taller boots, accessorized with chains, zippers and buckles. Western themes also came into vogue, with the traditional cowboy boot being joined by Native American-inspired designs.
Throughout the decades, many fashions have come and gone. Since the late sixties, however, one thing at least has remained a constant. Leather boots, in various guises have been and probably always will be loved by women everywhere, not only for how comfortable and practical they are, but for the sense of class and style they can create with any outfit.
Angela Jones loves leather footwear in all its guises, whether tall boots, ankle boots or even thigh-highs!