High-Top Boots

Women's skirt lengths began to rise after about 1908, opening up a whole new world for the display of women's shoes. Skirt lengths did not raise much but just enough to display women's ankles and, perhaps, the lower length of her calf. For the woman who dared to wear the new higher skirts but was still modest, the high-top boot was the best choice of footwear. Stylish yet not revealing, it was one of the most popular shoes of the period.

A girl wearing laced high-top boots, footwear that was considered stylish but not too revealing. Reproduced by permission of © .

The typical high boot was made of shiny black leather and laced up the center of the instep and to the top of the boot, which reached over the ankle and as much as several inches up the calf. Such boots always had a wide heel of perhaps one to two inches in height. Laces were the most popular method of securing the boot, but buttons were also quite common. The toes of these boots were alternately pointed or rounded, depending upon the current fashion.

High boots appeared in a broad range of styles and price ranges. One of the more common styles had the lower part of the boot made in one color of leather, usually black, with the ankle and calf covering made in a contrasting color, either in leather or fabric. Decorative elements like ruffles or lace might be added at the boot top, and stitching was common across the toe and the heel of the boot. While simple and inexpensive boots were available, wealthy women had boots made in fine kid leather, a soft leather made from the skin of a lamb or a goat, with delicate hand stitching.

Men's boots were quite similar to women's high boots, but in this period men more often chose to wear low shoes like oxfords.


Grafton, Carol Belanger. Shoes, Hats, and Fashion Accessories: A Pictorial Archive, 1850–1940. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998.

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

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