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How the First Boots are Made

History of Boots featured image

Okay, let's go back to ancient times.

Ever wonder what kind of boots they wear?

Well, let's find out.

The earliest boots consist of separate covering for the foot and lower leg. Sometime, around 1000 BC, the two-piece footwear was permanently welded together to form a single unit. This has been the configuration for all modern boots nowadays.

What is a Boot?

A boot is a footwear that covers the foot, ankle, and sometimes parts of the lower calf. Some boots reach up to the knee or even the hips. It is made from leather or rubber.

But different materials have found their way into the design of modern boots. A boot typically features a heel, a sole, and uppers.

What's Its Purpose?

old boots image

Boots, throughout the ages, were worn to protect the feet, ankles, and legs against elements like extreme cold, mud, water, or protect workers from falling objects that will cause them injury.

That's not all.

Some have a particular purpose, like when hiking or climbing, shoes for this type of activity should have an excellent grip.


This is to provide extra support for the feet or ankle while engaging in any outdoor activity or sports.

For those who use work shoes on the field, it's mandatory to use a steel-toed safety boot. This is especially true for workers on a construction site.

Some companies would also make this as part of their uniform or kit such as our military men.

Let's not forget fashion.

Well, it's not new to us that aside from its practical usage, they are also widely worn for fashion and style.

Where Did Boots Come From?

Earliest Boots

When did people start wearing boots?

Here's the cool thing.

Cave painting depicting a man and a woman in boots was found in Spain. Dated around 12,000 to 15,000 B.C.E, these are regarded as the earliest portrayal of boots known to man.

Persian urns made in the shape of boots have been discovered and date around 3,000 B.C.E.

In Egypt, boots have also been found in ancient tombs.

While in several pieces of Greek literature, it has been said that the Scythians used simple bag-like boots made with untanned leather that can secure the legs with thongs as early as 1000 B.C.E.

This is an interesting fact.

The ruling class in the ancient world used boots as symbols of power and military might. At a time where most people went about barefooted, kings and emperors wore stylish and flashy boots – sometimes gilded and embroidered with jewels and gold.

In ancient Rome, high-ranking military officers and politicians wore them, with the height of the boot indicating rank or status.

Middle Ages

In the middle ages, the style of the boots in vogue was derived from the ancient world.

There were two basic styles notable through the middle ages – the stylish short shoes prevalent in the courts of Europe and the military-style shoes worn by the cavalry. Because they were more rugged and served as armor to protect the legs, military boots were usually heavier.

There's more.

Boots became increasingly prominent in male fashion in the middle ages. They were made with the choicest leather and worn tight on the legs.

For instance, courtiers of the Carolingian period were described and shown wearing high shoes with laces half-way up the leg. These were referred to as brodequin during the reign of Charlemagne, as the Roman names for them were outdated.

A high, soft leather shoes known as the huese, became popular in the ninth century.

From the twelfth to the fourteenth century, the estivaux, a short, soft shoes, was in use.

Fifteenth Century

In the fifteenth century, the fashion of the time favored longer boot lengths.

According to history, shoes usually extended up to the thighs. These were typically made of brown leather and worn only by men.

However, unlike in earlier times, these shoes were popular amongst all classes of people. But it was deemed inappropriate for women. Women in this period wore laced shoes that merely covered the ankles and were usually lined in fur.

Fun fact: in 1431, one of the criminal charges against Joan of Arc was dressing in thigh-high shoes.

Sixteenth Century

By this period, the modish style was high shoes of soft perfumed leather. These were worn together with upper stocks.

This fashion included soft shoes that folded down, and slouchy shoes are worn along with boot hose. These boot hoses were richly trimmed with lace and flared into wide funnel shapes that folded down over the shoes. Wearing boot hoses are for protecting the expensive silk stockings and serve as a decoration.

Cool, right?

The boots had leather straps on the insteps and underfoot to anchor the spur in place.

The funnel tops covered the knee while riding and could be turned down when worn in town.

The ladrine, a shorter and lighter version of the high boots were introduced during the reign of Louis XIII.

Seventeenth Century

The seventeenth century saw the rise of the first military uniforms with the boot a key part of this standardization.

This saw the high-legged cavalier boot of the previous century replaced by the highly polished and rigid military jackboot. The inflexible high-top design was useful for protecting a rider's legs while on horseback.

Here's more.

Other popular styles of the period had a military origin. These included the Hessian or Souvaroff, which were introduced to England by German soldiers around 1776. This style was characterized by tassels and braid trimmings and had a trademark center front dip.


The eighteenth-century saw the cavalier boot of the previous century transform into a more flexible and snugger "jockey" style boot suited for sports riding.

The high tops folded down for increased freedom of movement while showing the brown leather or cotton lining. This style originated circa 1727, and its popularity increased steadily into the 1770s.

The rise in the popularity of this English style boot can be attributed partly to the Anglomania of that period and somewhat foretold the "Great Masculine Renunciation" that would be the aftermath of the French Revolution. This lingered into the early years of the nineteenth century.


The Wellington boot replaced the Hessian. It was said to have been developed by the Duke of Wellington in 1817.

The Wellington is essentially a Hessian that features a curved top cut straight across with a simple binding and was vastly popular for the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

But that's not all.

The Blucher was another notable boot in the early nineteenth century and is named for a famous war hero.

Also known as a "high-low," it was a utility, front-laced ankle boot used by laborers in the eighteenth century. It later became casual sportswear and continued to be popular to this day, although slightly modified. Most modern-day hiking shoes, high-top sneakers, and combat shoes were derived from the blucher.

By the 1790s, shoes for women started becoming markedly feminine with high-heels, tight lacing, and pointed toes.

Boots for walking and daywear became popular encouraged by fashion periodicals, and by 1830, boots were a fashion staple. Prominent among the women shoes for that period was the Adelaide, which featured side lacing and a flat heelless ankle boot.

Advances in technology in the Victorian era peaked in the popularity of shoes.

The inventor J. Sparkes Hall presented Queen Victoria with the first shoes to have elastic side gussets. This easy-to-wear slip-on style became popular with both men and women.

The two most popular styles in the midcentury were the elastic side of the Congress and the front lacing boot. The two fashionable front lacing styled shoes were the Derby and the Balmoral. The Balmoral or "bals," which was designed for Prince Charles, were the most popular.

Meanwhile, the Wellington survived in the U.S. and was the origin of the cowboy shoes. The cowboy shoes are said to come from Kansas and incorporates design elements from both the Wellington and the Mexican vaqueros.

The Hessian also continued to trend in the U.S in this period.

The elastic side boot became the footwear of choice for women mid-century. However, it was replaced by front lace balmorals.

Boot styles tended to accentuate the curves of the ankle and calf. By 1870, the side springs, high-buttons, and Balmoral shoes dominated fashion.

The barrette boot came later and was seen as a sort of shoe because the delicate straps were see-through.

Twentieth Century

Boots began to gradually lose relevance in the fashion scene of the early twentieth century.

They returned to more functional use, mostly military, sports, and safety applications. But the knee-high Russian shoes were still much in vogue with women.

It does not stop there.

Boot witnessed a revival in the second half of the twentieth century with the emergence of the youthful counterculture of that period.

Inspired by movies like The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause, the young rebels expressed their rebellion with the rugged Engineer or Bikers shoes.

The Chelsea shoes, which later became known as "Beatle shoes," started to trend in the late 1950s. It was derived from the elastic side shoes of the nineteenth century. It featured high heels and a pointed toe and was usually paired with slim-fitting tapered trouser.

Let's talk about the trend.

In the 1960s, women's fashion shoes became the rage. There were many popular styles, such as the flat-heeled, white kid leather André Courrèges shoes, Go-go ankle, knee or thigh boot that came with or without heels, and front lacing granny shoes which came later as a part of the hippie style. They all went well with the trendy miniskirt.

By the 1970s, styles converged, and men and women were rocking cowboy shoes, suede Chukka shoes, and high zip-up platform shoes.

The Dr. Martens boot, an orthopedic boot of the 1940s, became a style statement for the punk counterculture of the era. The shoe was initially designed as an orthopedic shoe in the 1940s. By the 1990s, however, it had become part of popular fashion.

Masculine style shoes worn by women contrasted sharply with other symbols of feminity and were considered quite provocative.

Form and Function

Boots throughout the ages have been worn for their functionality as well as appearance. The earliest footwears were likely necessitated by the need for humans to protect their feet and legs from cold, heat, rough terrains, water, or mud.

Over time, as humans became more sophisticated, they came to pay more attention to aesthetics. Therefore, the evolution of the boot followed the need to meet with form and functional requirements.

In most cases, the boot design considers both form and function – keeping the feet and lower legs safe while looking good.

So, while boots are still in use all over the world for various functions, they also play a major role in the fashion industry.

The Awl

Do you know what this is?

Also known as the stitching awl, the Awl was a revolutionary tool that made it possible for early men to make clothes and footwear and protect themselves from the elements.

It is a thin tapered shaft with a sharp end. It is used to punch holes through suitable material and pass thread.

The earliest Awl was made from sharpened flint or bone and has been in use over 35,000 years ago.

The first boots are likely to have been made from felt. An Awl would be required to sew it together.

Roman Boots

Roman Hobnail Boots

The Roman cavalry wore heavy-duty, thick-soled open shoes with hobnailed soles. Derived from the word "callus" or Latin for hard, Caliga soles are made by driving hobnails into it.

The hard hobnail-filled leather soles were then sewn onto a softer leather lattice. The hobnails helped the boot get maximum traction and acted as a foot support.

The Caliga shoes had the advantage of keeping the soldier's feet cool in the warm Meditteranean climate.

However, by the end of the second century, Caliga seems to have fallen out of favor with the civilian style closed boot replacing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of rain boots?

The Wellington Boot was popular because of the Duke of Wellington was wearing it. One day, he got a hessian shoes as a present and had it altered. Soon enough, the people started to pick up their duke's sartorial taste, and the Wellington shoes became popular.

Then in 1853, Hiram Hutchison redesigned the Wellington boot using rubber all through. This helped keep French farmers' feet warm and dry in the muddy fields.

The soldiers during the war wore these newly designed Wellington shoes. In the mid-1900, the boot found its way to the United States. It is now called "the rain boots."

What is the purpose of cowboy boots?

Cowboy shoes originated from the Wellington shoes with special features to assist cowboys in riding horses for cattle ranching.

The long shaft helps keep the shoes in place since there are no laces. Also, it protected the legs and kept water out.

The high-heels kept the rider's feet from slipping through the stirrup, thereby maintain more control and stability.

The purpose of the pointed toe was to allow the rider to slip their foot into the stirrup easily.

When was the intention of boots happen?

The first evidence of the first boots was in a cave painting in Spain.

The painting shows a man and a woman in shoes and found around 12,000 to 15,000 BC.

The earliest shoes have detachable soles, leggings, and uppers that offers better protection than sandals or shoes. These different components when joined together will form a single unit that became the first shoes back in 1000 BC.


Boots have been around for a very long time. Over the years, they have evolved from purely utilitarian purposes to statements of style and culture.

The footwear has a massive popularity and can be found all over the globe.

From sturdy work shoes to flamboyant cowboy shoes to tough hiking shoes, there is a boot for every purpose, occasion, or preference. Boots have provided their users with a delightful mix of functionality, fashion, and style.

With the vast assortment of shoes available in recent times, it could be a daunting task to make a choice. If you are in the market for new boots, you should consider the purpose for which you intend to use it. This will help narrow your search from a few million makes, models, and brands.

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