• The Record Press

Knee Deep in the Music Industry

Written by Nisha Paris

Knee high boots are a staple footwear in your wardrobe, right? I mean everyone seems to have a pair, well did you know that they can be traced back to the 15th century? Knee high boots were most likely to be found in medieval paintings, yet despite having the modern feminine sensual connotations, they were worn by men.

Originally called cuissardes, these shoes were worn by men who would go to battle as military dressing were moving away from the heavy mental pieces worn on the battle field, so these shoes were an alternative as they offered more protection and coverage than a typical military boot.

However, until the 19th century, women hopped onto the trend and society was horrified as this was purely a male trend. Women should not be wearing male garments, yet there were several ways that women wore these knee-high garments, and one of these ways was through theatre performances.

Women would take on male roles on stage from time to time in plays and this was often referred to as a “breeches role”. Women who played these roles had costumes which included boots which were worn by men at the time, however due to the role being sexualised by the audience, that is how the knee high boot got its sensual connotation which it is known for today!

Furthermore, these boots were sometimes worn by prostitutes in London. Yet, it was not until the 1960’s that over the knee boots started to catch on as a female fashion trend. Nancy Sinatra wore ‘Go Go boots (Knee high boots) in her song “These Boots are Made for Walking” , which really captured audiences’ attention. From the release of Sinatra’s song, these Go-Go boots made headlines at disco’s and America discotheques, hence the name Go-Go dancers, as women would dance in these go-go shoes in cages dressed in their mini-skirts.

In 1963, designer Yves Saint-Laurent included a modern take on the cuissardes in his collection which were designed by Roger Vivier. Yet, as Viver began making alternative versions of the boot; he began cutting the boots closer to the leg, making them fit like a pair of tights, coining them the name of “stocking boot”.

The knee-high boots toned down in the 1970’s as they became a bit more understated than the 60’s version, which was wilder and more playful. Instead of using bright/ shiny fabrics, they were toned down using fabrics such as suede or leather – channelling a more bohemian vibe to the outfits.

Yet, in the 1980’s the boots came out in full force as the likes of Madonna were wearing them in her videos and performance; while in the 90’s, knee high boots were mostly associated with spandex or the film Pretty Woman!

Nowadays, you have the likes of modern day pop stars like Ariana Grande rocking out in her knee-high boots in her music video “Focus” which came out in 2015.

Similarly, in 2020, Selena Gomez wears an outfit which sees her in knee high boots, in her video “Look at Her Now”, which shows you that knee-high boots are as much the trend now as they were back in the 15th century!

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