This is probably as good a time as any to pause and review what we’ve covered so far. The last series of posts have covered the birth of the modern fashion boot, charting its rise in popularity from the first years of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s. During that time, we’ve seen a change in the nature of boots for women. Initially functional, utilitarian footwear for rainy days, boots transitioned to a more high-profile role, where their dramatic, almost masculine overtones acted in sharp contrast to otherwise conventional feminine fashion.
From there, boots evolved in tandem with other aspects of sixties fashion; the rise – literally – of the miniskirt; the emergence of styles that drew their inspiration from the space race; the development of novel fabrics and materials. As it evolved, the boot became more feminized, using higher heels and a tighter fit to emphasizing features such as shape and length of the leg. Rather than contrasting with female fashions, boots complemented them, becoming incorporated into the overall ‘look’ of an outfit.
By the end of the decade, fashion boots were available in a hitherto undreamt of variety of colors and styles. Some, like the lace-up granny boot, were unashamedly retro. Others, like the skin-tight hip boots of the late sixties, looked like no type of footwear that had ever been seen before. There were boots that resembled stockings, or leggings, or pants, and there were boots that were so minimal that the line between boot and sandal was completely erased.
More than anything, they became popular in a way undreamed of 10 years previously. By the beginning of the 1970s, as we saw in the last post, it was not unusual for women to own two, four, six or even more pairs. In the mid-1950s, shoe manufacturers had laughed at Beth Levine’s little white calf-length boots; by the end of the following decade, they were no longer laughing. They were too busy making money hand-over-fist.
- Peter Cushing & Veronica Carlson: Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention