Over-the-Knee Boots Footwear of the Decade

With help from Beyonc, Kanye West and even Theresa May, the thigh-high boot is strutting its stuff in music, fashion and politics

Every era gets a shoe. The 60s had the Birkenstock, the 70s had the platform boot, the 80s had the stiletto, and the 90s the Doc Marten. Now we have the over-the-knee boot. Although Cavalli and Chanel have featured them in their collections since the early noughties, over-the-knee boots have only recently been popularised by the likes of Beyonc, Rihanna and Kendall Jenner. Not to mention Theresa May, who has twice donned a pair.

The current style is to wear them with an oversize top and coat (nicknamed lampshading for the big-small silhouette it creates), usually without trousers (though May has not taken this particular option). Last month, MTV Style announced: Thigh-high boots are the new pants.

Kim
Kim Kardashian rocks some OTKs from husband Kanye Wests fashion label. Photograph: Alo Ceballos/GC Images

The queen of the #OTK (as theyre known on Instagram) trend is Kim Kardashian, who previewed a perspex pair from husband Kanye Wests new collection. On the catwalk they have appeared in various iterations: Guccis feature python diamond prints; McQueens in white leather; and Pradas velvet lace-ups. Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Givenchy, Cavalli and Tom Ford have their own versions.

Meanwhile, Manolo Blahnik debuted two thigh-high collaborations, saying: Shoes help transform a woman. The question remains: what does it transform her into?

Monica Rose, the celebrity stylist (Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, Gigi Hadid) who has put the boots front and centre in her work, told Nylon earlier this year: I grew up as a teenager in the 90s, so my aesthetic always has some element of the 90s with a modern twist. And the most obvious pop culture references here are, give or take a year, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990) and Cher in her video for If I Could Turn Back Time (1989). That they both appeared as part of a costume of sexual provocation illustrates perhaps how our attitude to revealing clothing has morphed.

In the era of the naked selfie, the thigh-high boot is just another acceptable flesh-baring garment. This change from sexual clothing item to object of emancipation can be traced back to The Devil Wears Prada (2006), where the slovenly character of Andy (Anne Hathaway) gets a high-fashion makeover and finally gets a backbone. Pivotal to this is the ensemble in which she wears black leather Chanel boots. The intern transforms into a boss.

Cassie Smart, footwear and bags buying manager at Matchesfashion.com, says sales have been buoyant due to the versatility of the boot. The over-the-knee boot has become an important category within our boot range due to the different heel heights and the appeal for many occasions, from day to night, she says, name-checking bestsellers such as Balenciaga and Valentino, cut in velvet and suede respectively. They can be worn in different weather conditions with dresses or skirts, over skinny jeans, sweater dresses and more.

Theresa
Theresa May pulls off some over-the-knee boots at a public occasion. Photograph: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Smart says sales have been growing since 2015s autumn/winter season when versions by Saint Laurent and Nicholas Kirkwood were popular. They work well with midi dresses, elongate the leg, and are equally stylish in more of a daytime look with luxe knitwear layered with a longer-length coat. Or, indeed, worn with no coat at all.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/sep/09/over-the-knee-boots-set-to-be-the-shoe-of-the-decade

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