Toronto Metropolitan University
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Practical to fashionable: a historical review of the repurposing of English equestrian boots

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posted on 2021-05-23, 16:31 authored by Jessica C. Miniaci
With elite British males uniquely wearing the boots worn by equine sportsmen and cavalry officers off of the horse and pairing them with non-equestrian attire in the early 19th century, the role of the riding boot quickly changed from utilitarian accessory to fashion staple. Accordingly referred to as English equestrian boots, these pieces are now worn predominately by women and remain popular on city streets and fashion runways throughout the world. This research concentrates on the use and design of such footwear worn during the 19th and early 20th centuries using artefacts from the Bata Shoe Museum to identify the four main types of English equestrian footwear. Comparisons between these archetypes with the boots currently sold by Hermés, Ralph Lauren, and Gucci reveal that English riding culture has safeguarded their design and appeal. The gender transitions and socioeconomic status ideals that are connected to these pieces are also addressed.





  • Master of Arts


  • Fashion

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP