A variety of boot styles were popular during the nineteenth century. Half boots, or those reaching halfway to the knee, with square toes were commonly worn by men and ankle boots by women in the early years of the century. By the middle of the century, the British queen Victoria (1819–1901) popularized congress gaiters, leather ankle boots with elastic sewn into the side, among both men and women. The side-laced boots women wore under their long skirts became quite fashionable when they were suddenly visible underneath Bloomer outfits and shorter walking skirts in the later half of the century.

Tall boots made of leather or cloth were also fashionable for men. Men wore boots most often while outdoors and wore their trousers or breeches either tucked inside the boots' tall uppers or pulled over the tops and fastened with straps beneath the arch. Three styles were especially popular among fashionable men: Hussars, a military style of riding boots named after various European military units, were modeled on those worn by the Hungarian light cavalry of the fifteenth century; Hessians, thick leather boots trimmed below the knee with a tassel hanging from the center of the boot top, were named after a style worn by Germans from Hesse; and Wellingtons, boots covering the knee in front and cut lower in back for ease of movement, were made fashionable by the Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), the British military hero who defeated the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) in 1815 and became prime minister of Britain in 1828.


Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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