Boots go well with almost any outfits. You can throw on a graphic tee and a pair of jeans, wear them with your boots and you’ll look effortlessly great. These days, it’s more of what looks and feels good on your feet rather than what you can do in them. It’s completely understandable, of course. After all, most of us in the 21st century aren’t running around in the woods hunting and trying to gather food. Boots have come a long way since their invention, and despite how often we wear them, we rarely find ourselves thinking about their history. Do you know that the history of boots can be traced back to more than 10,000 years ago?
Boots have always been a practical form of footwear, fulfilling their protective function for the wearer. While the materials and the construction varies from culture to culture based on what was available during the time, boots mainly served to protect the wearer’s feet from the environment.
One of the first iterations of boots was made of animal skin and was bag-like in shape and tied around the foot. These versions of a basic boot can be found in the traditional garb of cultures all over the world, from Greece to Egypt, Asia and even parts of the Artic dating back three millenniums ago.
In the ancient empires, boots were representative of ruling power with kings wearing colorful, decorated footwear while the rest of the population went about their lives barefoot. This was because leather was expensive to make and many could not afford it.
The evolution of boots continued through time and in the fifteenth century, it was the fashion for men to wear long, thigh-high boots. While this was the fashion for men among different classes, this was not an appropriate boot for woman and it was more common to see females wearing ankle boots. When Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, one of the charges was because she was deemed a heretic as a female wearing male clothing.
It was in the seventeenth century that boots were incorporated into the standardization of uniforms in the military. They were fully functional, rigid and protected the legs while men were riding horseback. This style of boot continued on into the eighteenth century for military men. Later in the century, the popularity of boots dissipated for a while, as influenced by the fashions of the French courts, and were only worn functionally by laborers and soldiers or when people participated in active sports such as riding or hunting.
In the nineteenth century, Victorian fashion in England cemented boots as a quintessential part of English dress and from there on, boots reached the peak of their popularity. It was during this time that the eighteenth century military riding Hessian boots were modified by the Duke of Wellington to create the Wellington boots. When the Wellington fell out of fashion in England, the style remained in the United States and influenced the design of the cowboy boots.
These days you can find boots in varying shapes, colors and materials, and we’re certain that there’ll be new innovations of the boots in time to come.