Chelsea Boot

AKA: beatle boot, dealer boots, jodhpur boots, paddock boots, baba boots

How to say it: chel-sea

Traditional Features: 

Chelsea Boot

  • ankle height
  • round, pointed toe
  • elastic gores on the sides
  • low heel
  • typically made from two pieces of leather that join, but don’t overlap at the gores

21st Century Chelsea Boots

In the 21st century the Chelsea Boot is still as popular as ever. Available in a variety of colours, materials and heel heights, the easy-to-wear ankle boot comes back season after season and is worn by the fashion set around the world on a regular basis.

Alexander McQueen Chloe

Alexander McQueen, Chloé

FRYE Topshop

FRYE, Topshop

Origins…

…of the style: The Chelsea boot style is accredited to Queen Victoria’s then boot maker,  J. Sparkes-Hall. Whether or not he is the rightful creator of the boot, he certainly claimed it as his own, patenting the design in 1851, and claiming that Queen Victoria walked in them daily and “thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention”.

The elastic gores on the side of the boot (made possible by Charles Goodyear‘s development of vulcanised rubber) made the boots easy to put on and remove, making the Chelsea boot a popular style of footwear for walking and riding in the West until the onset of WWI.

In the 1950s a young and fashionable group of artists, creatives and socialites began frequenting the King’s Road in London. The trendy pack included fashion icons Mary Quant and Jean Shrimpton and was labeled the ‘Chelsea Set’ by the media; this nickname linked the term ‘Chelsea’ to a particular way of living and dressing, which included the wearing of the elasticated ankle boot, which became known as the ‘Chelsea Boot’.

In the 1960s a pair of London shoemakers, Anello and Davide, added a cuban heel and the style became known as the ‘Baba Boot’; it was popular in the Rock & Roll world but really took off in mainstream fashion after The Beatles started wearing the style in the 1960s. The style was renamed the ‘Beatle Boot’ after the Fab 4 made it part of their ‘look’. The boot then became part of the Mod uniform, securing the style’s status as a fashion classic and ensuring the Chelsea boot’s popularity ever since.

In the modern fashion landscape the Chelsea boot appears regularly in both men’s and women’s fashion, and despite the classic lines that identify the style, designers have not held back when making the Chelsea their own. 21st century Chelsea boots come in a variety of materials and designs, sometimes featuring textures, patterns, brogue detailing and various heel heights keeping the style fresh and on trend.

The Chelsea Boot has a long and illustrious history which has elevated the style to iconic status in the fashion world. It seems unlikely that it disappear from the fashion landscape anytime soon.

…of the name: While the elasticated ankle boot has had many, many names, the term ‘Chelsea Boot’ came about when members of the ‘Chelsea Set’ made it part of their unofficial uniform in the 1950s.

Random Facts

  • Steed, from the Avengers, always wore Chelsea boots, regardless of his outfit
  • Darth Vader’s stormtroopers wore white Chelsea boots in all three of the original Star Wars films

For more info on Chelsea Boots try Wikipedia, Gentleman’s Gazette, The Look, Fashion Beans or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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