In the modern fashion world, boots are footwear that covers the entire lower leg and foot. They are typically over-the-knee styles, a fashion staple for the fall and winter. But these vintage shoes have a fascinating history. From their prehistoric origin to a contemporary style statement, boots have gone through a lot of changes.
Boots During Early Civilisation
One of the earliest forms of footwear, boots were a utilitarian piece of the ensemble. These were used to travel long, rugged terrains. The earliest evidence of boots can be found in Spanish cave paintings. Dated around 15,000 BC, these pictures depict men wearing fur-lined boots made from animal skin.
Ancient Greek soldiers were also known to wear boot-like shoes on their feet. These were baggy leather pieces tied to their foot with elements of raw twine.
So, you can see that throughout history, people have been wearing boots to protect their feet from terrain, weather, and other dangers of nature. This is also a reason why most retro boots are leather-made.
Some wealthy kings and emperors used to wear embellished boots covered in jewellery and intricate embroideries. However, as society progressed, leather boots became expensive.
The Roman Empire
Most of you know that Roman Empire spread and spanned across what we know as Europe. Romans were able to travel so far for months on end because of their revolutionary footwear.
Hobnail footwear or boots hailed with metal tacks were so durable that they allowed soldiers to travel and repair their own shoes. These retro shoes were invented by Etruscans and later perfected by the Romans.
Another footwear, known as “Caligae,” was also very famous during this period. These were hobnail style shows with thick-soled boots with an open top. These shoes resembled the gladiator sandals. The warm, humid climate of the Mediterranean wasn’t comfortable for top-covered boots. So, everyday shoes were made to be a little more comfortable for men, women, and children.
Evolution of Boots During Middle Ages
During this time, boot-making was considered a craft. With the fall of the Roman Empire, boots were made by a different technique. Courtiers of the Carolingian period used to wear knee-length laced-up high boots.
Towards the ninth century, ‘huese,’ a high, soft leather boot appeared as a forerunner to the original boots. Then near the middle of the fourteenth century, the soled hose was popular, precluding the need for shoes and boots.
The Victorian Era
It was not until the 1800s that boots started to resemble the styles popular today. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Duke of Wellington modified the boots for a better fit. Instead of a baggier leather that folded down, he asked for a tightly fitted leather boot, extending to the middle of his calf. These boots also had a 1-inch heel that caught with the masses. Even today, these “Wellington” boots are one of the best-made leather retro shoes.
Gradually, these boots started adapting feminine styles featuring laced-up details and a more feminine stacked heel. An adaptation of these Wellington boots was worn by American soldiers during the Civil War. The boots had an influence of Mexican rider boots known as Cowboy boots. Later, for women, these cowboy boots became more tight-fitting and had heels.
The Twentieth Century
Due to the arrival of Flapper dresses and Empire-waist dresses, boots returned to their functional role rather than daily wear. With Hollywood designer Salvatore Ferragamo, cowboy boots gained a new life. Even today, highly decorated and colourful cowboy boots are regarded as one of the top retro heels.
During the 1950s and 60s, with Western films, ‘cowboy’ boots came to the scene. Many styles of boots apart from the flat-heed ones came popular. The ‘go-go’ boots could be ankle, knee, or even high-thigh boots that served well with short skirts and dresses. From the 1970s, when style became universal, suede boots, high platform boots have been considered a style statement.
Women today wear knee-length boots with jeans, skirts, and shorts. Not only functionality but these iconic vintage shoes are also considered a fashion staple now. So, if you want to own a classic pair of vintage boots, a site like Banned Retro is perfect. They are an e-commerce store for all things vintage!