The Rolling Stones sporting Chelsea boots in Hyde Park, 1964 | Source: TERRY O'NEILL ShutterStock

Stepping After the Rolling Stones: The Iconic Chelsea Boot

Which iconic trend can claim both royal and rock n roll beginnings? Relaxed yet refined, there’s one iconic wardrobe staple competent of honouring any fashion style – yes, we’re talking about the Chelsea boot.

The simple, stylish fashion statement for both men and women is a functional timeless design that works with just about any look. While today the Chelsea boot is more closely associated with R. M. Williams and other luxury brands – the original design is credited to Queen Victoria’s bootmaker.

Designed for royalty, and worn by legendary rockers The Beatles this shoe bears a name inherited from one of the trendiest districts of London, the Chelsea boot is nothing less than legendary. So what makes the Chelsea boot so iconic?

Humble Beginings

The now archetypal Chelsea boot is defined by a close-fitting ankle design, an elastic side panel and a back pull-tab. Lauded for its easy to put on a production, the boots are durable with a close, comfortable fit. The functional back pull-tab loop ensures the boot is effortless to pull on and off harking back to its origins as a popular work boot. Traditionally, Chelsea boots have featured a standard, low-profile heel however the contemporary design in the women’s boot today emphasise a larger block heel.

While originally leather Chelsea Boots dominated the style, suede is also now a common boot material. Popular with both men and women, the simple yet functional style makes it the perfect casual companion or addition of class to formal occasions.

The History

The initial design is credited to Queen Victoria’s bootmaker, Joseph Sparkes-Hall from the mid-19th century. The talented bootmaker invented what he called the ‘paddock boot’ in 1851 as a time-saving shoe. The simple design allowed Her Majesty to easily pull her shoes on and off when she was walking and horseback riding – hence the comfortable fit, elastic sides and back pull-tab.

It wasn’t until 100 years later that the Chelsea boot, we know and love today, found its true glory. Owing a lot to the mod subculture scene of the 1950s and ’60s, its popularity in the affluent and trendy London suburb of Chelsea allowed the shoe to became widely associated with the fashion elite of the King’s Road.

London shoemakers Anello & Davide made the four Beatles pairs of Cuban-heeled elastic-sided shoes, that the Chelsea boot hit the mainstream. The shoe reached iconic status thereafter when other stars of the time, such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Small Faces embraced the same booted look.

Following in the footsteps of music idols, the 1960’s subculture paired the leather Chelsea boot’s smooth lines with slim-tailored, high-hemmed trousers. In the span of a decade, the sturdy shoe with its long-lasting silhouette had become a fashion staple.

The Best Chelsea Boots

Black Leather Chelsea Boots A$575.00
Black Newmarket Leather Chelsea Boots A$1,885.00

Dr Martens

The ultimate classic women’s Chelsea boots, Dr Martens offer a timeless style that’s versatile. Dr Martens Flora boots are one of the most popular styles from the British footwear brand. They find the perfect balance between sleek and chunky that’s finished in polished leather with a lower-profile heel. The chunkier Chelsea boot by Dr Martens’s is 2976. Featuring a thick sole and signature yellow stitching, they offer a more casual style that adds an edge to any outfit.

If your pair of suede Chelsea boots, or any suede shoes for that matter, are getting a little dirty, here’s how to brush your suede shoes clean. You can read about the best men’s dress shoes for winter.

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