Whether it’s an ankle-hiding, kid-leather boot with a Louis XV heel from the late-Victorian Era, or a thigh-high, skin-tight, Stephen Sprouse stiletto from the 1980s, women’s boots have always been about more than mere utility. They can symbolize control of the elements (a Wellington rain boot), seduction (the salacious, above-the-knee numbers designed by Giulio Coltellacci for Jane Fonda in “Barbarella”), or getting down to business (a no-nonsense pair of suedes by Anne Klein II).

For collectors of women’s boots, the lace- and button-up boots of the early 20th century suggest an era when getting dressed was far from a casual or impromptu affair. Some of these boots had a dozen or more pairs of eyelets for their laces, while the profusion of buttons on others made button hooks an essential tool for the well-heeled woman.

By the middle of the century, boots had shrugged off their Edwardian past in favor of more playful looks. Low fashion boots had mesh uppers to reveal the top of the foot, and even foul-weather boots with molded rubber soles were capped with fur trim.

But the real fun began in the 1960s, when women were offered everything from ankle boots in molded vinyl to white-heeled booties with fake-leopard uppers to chic cowboy boots in alligator, snakeskin, or elaborately tooled leather. Stocking boots were even embraced, evolving quickly into body boots, which was like wearing a pair of tights with leather soles.

Of course the 1960s are most famous for the go-go boot. Designer André Courrèges, produced a short white boot in 1964 that was copied by pretty much everyone. Roger Vivier was not one of the imitators. His Cristal boot from 1966 was outlined in black, with a revealing clear plastic window at the front and side to show off most of the foot and ankle.

By the 1970s, designers like Yves Saint Laurent were making knee-high walking boots with side zippers in hues that ranged from two-tone browns to black-and-gold. So-called “flower power” boots included stretch black-vinyl knee-highs with flowers up the front on two-inch heels.

And a London boutique from the 1960s called Granny Takes A Trip expanded into the States, spreading its hippie-Edwardian-paisley aesthetic to New York and Los Angeles. Even mains...

Meanwhile, in Australia, fleece-lined sheepskin boots called Uggs were gaining acceptance. Popularized by surfers looking for a quick way to warm their toes after hanging ten, the style caught on with U.S. women in the 1990s, when Pamela Anderson of the television show “Baywatch” took to wearing the leg-warming footwear between takes.

By then, boots were a favorite of footwear designers who are better known for their high heels. Malaysian-born designer Jimmy Choo crafted everything from thigh-high black-leather boots to ankle boots with names like George (four-inch heels supporting water-snake leather uppers), Erica (its carved heel measures four-and-a-half inches), and Chicago (a black patent-leather boot with a revealing V cutout on the side).

Acclaimed shoe designer Manolo Blahnik was also drawn to boots. His Cava featured ocelot-print goat fur trim, his snakeskin boot sported a square toe and cream-leather lining, and his provocative Cage boot seemed to be someone’s bondage fantasy, complete with four-and-a-half-inch heels.

Other designers who have chosen to stake their reputations on their boots include Stella McCartney, whose mesh, peep-toe booties are fun and flirty. Cynthia Vincent’s open-toe lace-ups are more Victorian in character (without the modesty, of course), Fendi’s black suede boots feature comfortable triangular heels, and Christian Louboutin’s Goya ankle boots have a tuxedo riffle on the vamp and lipstick-red soles.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

MyVintageVogue

MyVintageVogue

The history of 20th-century women’s fashion largely played out in the pages of magazines such as “Harper’s Ba… [read review or visit site]

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]

1960s Fashion and Textiles

1960s Fashion and Textiles

Put on your go-go boots and check out this wavy, groovy tribute to 1960s fashion and textiles, courtesy of the Vict… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Fashion Guild

Vintage Fashion Guild

While primarily designed to steer buyers to online vintage clothing shops, this blog is chock full of interesting, … [read review or visit site]

Fashion-Era

Fashion-Era

Bursting at the seams with content, this site contains hundreds of pages of fashion and costume history, including … [read review or visit site]

The Antique Corset Gallery

The Antique Corset Gallery

Take a deep breath, and check out this sparse, simple, and beautifully designed site showcasing 250 years of corset… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vtg Ll Bean Brown Snow Rain Winter Boots Main Hunting Duck Boots Womens Shoes 8Vtg Ll Bean Maine Hunting Duck Boots Gore-tex Thinsulate Snow Boots Womens 7 MVtg Frye Knee High Saddle Campus Brown Leather Tall Riding Boots Womens Sz 8.5 B10" L.l. Bean Boots Ladies Size 8 Vintage Nr WinterPair Vintage Womens Frye Red-brown Leather Pull On Riding Boots 8b # 550Vintage Frye Oxblood Leather Riding Boots Size 8.5 Marc Jacobs Fur And Brown Mid Calf Moon Boots Sz M 7 7.5 8 8.5 !!rare!!Vintage Frye Harness Engineer 12r Boots Womans Size 8.5 Biker Made In UsaVintage Ll Bean Women's Maine Hunting Shoe Duck Brown Boots W/ Buckle - Size 9Nine West Vintage America Counter Riding Boots Tan Leather Size 12Size 8.5 Vintage Womens Ankle Boots Battle Lace Up Flat Suede Shoes GrayVintage Irish Setter Red Wing Shoes Avon Du-flex Womens 7 Leather Sport Boots %)Vintage Goat Fur Boots Sz 8 Vera Pelle Ivory & Brown Comfy & Warm Mukluks AprVintage Black Label Frye Leather Campus Boots Womans 10 (mens 8.5) UnisexAwesome Vtg Frye Brown Leather Campus Riding Boots Size 7 BVintage Women's Ll Bean Maine Hunting Duck Boots Bean Boots Size 8 Leather Vince Camuto Bedina 10 M Black Vintage Tumble Over The Knee Leather BootsVintage English "doc Dr. Martens" Airwair Flower Pattern Lace Up Boots 39 8.5 9!Vtg 90s Dr Martens Black Classic 8 Eye Lace Grunge Shoes Punk Booties 7.5 Uk 5Vintage 9 West Nine West "r-tille" Flat Pirate Maroon & Black Leather Boots Sz 8J.crew Vintage Brown Leather Boots Vtg Dr. Martens Uk 4 / Us 6 / Mens 5 Leather Boots Red Originals EnglandVtg Frye Tall Brown Leather Western Stacked Heel Boots Womens 6.5 B Made In UsaVintage Frye Women's Tall Saddle Brown Leather Campus Boots 8.5 B M Banana TanVintage Eddie Bauer Brown Leather Lace Up Riding Boots Low Heel Women's Size 10True Vtg Huntress Hunter Boots Rain Snow Rubber Size 10 Us 8 Uk Authentic GreenVintage Ugg Australia Ultra Tall 5245 Womens 7 Brown Suede Sheepskin Nz Boots -:Size 9.5 Vintage Womens Ankle Boots Battle Lace Up Flat Suede Shoes GrayVintage Ugg Australia Uggs Ultra Short Womens 9 Brown Suede Sheepskin Boots ~pVtg 80s Rugged Blk + Brown Equestrian Roper Lace Up Fringe Combat Riding Boots 8Womens Vintage Durango Black Lace Up Kiltie Roper Granny Boots Size 8 EucWomans Vintage Gianni Versace Vero Cuoio Heel Boots Euro 37 Us 7 Made In ItalySize 8 Womens Ankle Boots Battle Lace Up Flat Suede Bootie Shoes VintageVintage Bearpaw Goatskin Fur Feathered Sheepskin Lined Boots Sz 10wVintage Dingo Leather Lace Up Granny BootsFrye Vintage Brown Leather Women Boots Size Us 7.5bVintage 60s 70s Boho Hippie Knee-high Lace-up Go-go Granny BootsVintage 90s John Fluevog Black Leather Platform F Sole Combat Boots Goth Size 9Womans Goat Fur Boots Sz 6 7 Long White Yeti Apres Ski Koflach VintageVtg Frye Aztec Lace Fringe Boots Moccasins Chukka Boho Women Size 8.5mVintage Cole Haan Equestrian Tall Riding Boots ~ Ankle Lace Up Boots Size 9.5 BAntique Vtg Mens Womens Victorian Edwardian Black Leather Boots Shoes C1900 NosVintage Women's Size 7.5 M Dexter Light Brown Leather Western Cowboy Boots Genuine Python Larry Mahan Cowboy Boots Price Lowered!!!!Vintage Brown Leather & Rubber L.l Bean Tall Maine Duck Hunting Boots Size 8Vintage Frye Boots, Women Size 8Size 11 Vintage Womens Ankle Boots Battle Lace Up Flat Suede Shoes Coffee Antique Edwardian High Top Suede Women's Shoes Boots Vtg 70s Custom Native Hand Made Whiskey Leather Lace Up Fringed Mocassin BootsOld Gringo Womens Handmade Leather Vintage Boots Turquoise Flowers 10b Orig.$450Green Vintage Dr.marten 6-hole Boots Size Uk 5Vtg 80s Chic Genuine Snake Skin Blk Leather Minimalist Chelsea Ankle Boots 8 1/2Burgundy Vintage Looking Fashion Boots Womens Size 9 M Vintage 1970s Black Leather White Stitched Western Boots Sz 8 Chic Modern Yves Saint Laurent Chestnut Suede Leather Minimalist Ysl Ankle BootsVintage Leather Lace Up Campus Boots Brown Size 10 Dr Doc Martens 1460 Vtg Made In England Combat Black Boots Uk 3 Wm 5 Nine West Vintage Brown Leather Riding Boots 9 West 8.5Vtg Sorel Freestyle Boots Womens Size 10-Nine West Vintage America Coll Size 7.5 Ankle Boots Brown Leather Sosie Booties