Children's Footwear: Rugged Outdoor Boots

Figure 1.--This English boy is helping clean up the Grand Union Canal (which runs from London up to the Midlands) in the 1980s. He looks to be wearing a school uniform with Doc Marten boots. A British reader reports that he is wearing a grey school shirt and black sports shorts. Click on the image for a fuller discussion of the boy's clothes.

We are not sure at this time when a definite detinction developed between boots for outdoor work and activities like hunting developed as destinct from shoes. Certainly for many boys into the 20th century they might only have one pair of footwear, often boot-like shoes. These often were the high-top style extending above the ankles. The destinctive feature of boots seems is that it not only covers the foot, but part of the leg above the ankles. Here there is considerable variation as to how much of the leg was covered. We have noted some boots popular for hunting or outdoor wear that laced up covering much of the calf. Other boots only extended a little above the ankles. The best modern example here are Dr. Martens which were adopted by the skinheads.

Dr. Martens

Dr Martens boots were the footwear of choice for skinheads and they made them for younger boys too. A British reade tells us that boys tried to wear them to school in the 1970s, but school authorities banned them. So Dr Martens brought out a black shoe which was suitable for schoolwear. The classic Dr Martens boot had distinctive yellow stitching, the "airwear" tab at the back and the ribbed, cushioned soles which were trademarks. A reader tells us, "The soles would eventually wear smooth and then split letting in water! You could repair the soles by resealing them with a red hot poker, but they soon split again." Dr. Martens were adopted by one youth group--the Belgian VNJ. Boys in other groups wore them, but they were not appreoved footwear.

Hunting Boots

We have noted boys in the early 20th century weating high boots extending to just below the knee. They were lace up boots with an incredible number of eyelets. They must have taken some tome to put on. We are not sure of the proper name fof these boots, but for now will refer to them as hunting boots.

Motor-cycle Boots

I remember motor-cycle boots became populat in the 1950s. They were heavy, black leather boots. They were of course worn with leather jackets, white T-shirts, and pegged-jeans. This was of course the rougher lot. Most schools banned them.


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Created: 8:12 PM 6/12/2005
Last updated: 3:05 AM 6/14/2005