In Victorian times a gentlemen was always expected to be dressed immaculately and look well heeled. Formal wear was the standard of the day, and it was said you could judge the calibre of a man by the boots he wore. The style and cut of Victorian-era male boots have retained their popularity, and any dashing dandy of the 21st century should be easily able to discern Spectator Spats from Chelsea boots.
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Bring on the Boots
Boots for both males and females enjoyed something of a renaissance in the Victorian era and became the footwear of choice for men of substance. Men's fashion at the time was very formal and conservative, and this was reflected in the boots of the period. The short ankle boot took prominence in fashion, with half-boots or knee-length boots used mainly for riding purposes.
In Victorian London, the streets were awash with filth and vermin. It was vitally important for gentlemen of a refined nature and social standing to protect their feet and ankles from the mud and muck. The classic leather Spectator Spat boots were derived from the traditional English Spats, which incorporated a removable piece of fabric to protect the foot and ankle from the elements and hazards of city living. The Spectator Spats developed the style into
two tone black and white ankle boots, which complement a well-cut pair of trousers perfectly. These pointed-toe boots found huge favour among the dandies of the era.
The Chelsea boot became an iconic fashion statement in the 1960s, but these understated slip-on ankle boots originated in the Victorian era. Also know as dealer boots, Chelsea boots are easily identifiable by their elastic siding, which runs from just above the welt to the shoe's top. Chelsea boots were the footwear of choice for the mods of swinging London, and Beatle boots were a direct descendant of the Chelsea boot. These timeless boots are still very popular among the smart young things of today and have become something of a style institution, which would have pleased the style-obsessed and peacock strutting Victorian dandies to no end.
The Victorian gentleman loved to ride horses. They were his equivalent of the car. Yet the standard riding boot was considered cumbersome and ungainly by those fashion conscious gents, hence the lace-up Paddock boot was created. This lace-up, ankle-height leather boot was perfect for the discerning dandy to parade around the paddock and impress the ladies. Although no Victorian gentleman worth his salt would wear Paddock boots to a formal event, their lightness and delicacy of design was perfect for riding a horse and looking civilised at the same time. To this day, Paddock boots are still worn in equestrian circles.
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