Lockheed L-1011

Autumn has arrived, which is indescribably exciting for us bootie lovers. I am talking about us lovers of women’s fall boots, of course. Boots for fall are glorious for many reasons. Firstly, they come in so many different styles, textures, leg heights, heel heights, and colours, making them a great statement, accent or accessory. Secondly, boots can protect you in all different types of weather. Thirdly, you can wear a nice pair of boots to the office, then throw on jeans and wear them to the bar. Also, boots can be unbelievably comfortable; plus flat shoes just don’t look as good with leggings as a chic pair of boots do (let’s be honest here).

Before 1000 B.C.E., boots were worn by different cultures as three-pieces (leggings, shoe, and sole). In East Asia, nomads made ankle boots of soft leather, brought to China and India by Mongol invaders in 1200-1500 A.D. Alaskan natives wore boots made of seal and caribou to keep their feet dry and warm in the harsh winters. In 17th-century Europe, Hessian boots became popular with military men and equestrians. Similar boots were worn a century later by soldiers in the American revolutionary war, which went on to influence cowboy boots. Throughout the 19th- and 20th-century, rising hemlines prompted designs of ankle-boots and calf-boots for men and women. In the early Victorian era, laced thigh-high boots became popular with affluent, fashionable women. However, by the turn of the century, these boots had been adopted by prostitutes hoping to attract clientele with foot-fetishes or looking for a dominatrix. In 1913, Denise Poiret, wife of Paul Poiret, wore wrinkled Moroccan knee-length boots multiple times in Europe, sparking controversy. Although older generations revolted, the New York Times declared these as “Russian Boots”, and as socially acceptable footwear to cover ankles and calves. These boots proved popular, and were commonly decorated with embellishments or fur and worn with knee-length skirts. However, the wellington boot overtook the Russian boot in popularity for its practicality.

Eventually, people looked down and realized that their boots were ugly, so they paved roads and invented motorcars, making plain wellington boots overly restrictive and unnecessarily uncomfortable. Some styles of ankle boots tried to poke their way into fashion to no avail. In 1953, Hebert Levine, under the direction of Beth Levine, released white kidskin calf-length boots to poor sales. However, Levine continued to push boots in her designs, famously arguing that boots, like shoes, are fashionable and for daily use, not just for poor weather. In 1962, Balenciaga released boots with their fall line. The next year, Yves Saint Laurent released thigh-high alligator boots with their couture line, and in 1963, Vogue proclaimed boots to be the fashion staple of the moment. Some viewed boot fashions as a way for women to express historically-male strength and power while embracing and showcasing their own sexuality.

As the 60s progressed, fashion took a futuristic turn. Boots became experimental, coming in bright colours and different materials (such as PVC). Contrary to popular belief, go-go boots weren’t fully accepted as mainstream fashion until the 1970s. In the 70s, boots were seen as unnecessary and a teen accessory (the modern equivalent would probably be something that says “swag” or “yolo”, see Miley Cyrus’s latest music video for further reference).  By the late 1970s, boots had become a staple, accumulating 20% of shoe sales in 1977. The 1980s saw flat-heeled boots and riding boots become popular fashion. In 1990, Karl Lagerfeld designed satin thigh-high boots for Chanel, and Vogue dubbed 1993 the “Year of the Boot”. In 1995, Versace released tight, high-calf boots with a spiked heel, becoming the basis for the boot trend for the next decade.

Fall 2013 runways saw flats overtake heels. An innovative look found on many runways were cut-out boots (like these from Giuseppe-Zanotti). Multi-tone boots (like the BCBG over-the-knee boots and Creature of Comfort’s cap-toe booties) are also popping up everywhere. Animal print and fur were also prowling fashion runways for fall. Menswear, military and motorcycle continue from last season and last fall to be staples this fall. Check out some of these boots for inspiration:

Manly | Classic | Meow! | Peep | Moto | Hairy | Modern | Cut It Out | Two-Tone

Before you go shopping for your new fall boots, consider how many you’re going to own. Many people only want/need one pair, so a neutral, transitional boot is the way to go for them. I, however, find owning a pair in every fall colour and every heel height/style is more appropriate for me (I own seven pairs of fall boots). Whatever works for you! Just please, for the love of Anna Wintour, no Uggs.


This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!