I was on a fly-fishing expedition in the post-apocalypse to catch mutant salmon. I only went to my New York apartment to pick up a few boxes. Not the most exciting Saturday night, but the boots I was testing–near-groin-high rubbery waders–made it memorable. My doorman went berserk. He laughed and asked, “What are they?”
I told him that they were for work. I wore the wellies I borrowed paired with a black catsuit. He suggested I buy them. But is it possible to put a price tag on such podiatric badassness? Chanel did: $2,400. They were expensive for novelty rain boots, but I love them.
Givenchy, Courreges, and Khaite sell boots between the knee and below the pelvis. According to Iman Alem (market editor at e-commerce platform Farfetch), the look had risen since fall 2017 when Demna, Balenciaga’s creative director, introduced “pantaboots,” a mix of shiny leggings with high heels. Kim Kardashian, a Balenciaga fan and face, has “really revived love for that boot” and made it mainstream, said Ms. Alem.
These “in” silhouettes are not limited to the skintight styles offered by Zara, Balmain, Diesel, and Balmain. Tall boots for fall are more crotchless than regular pants. They come in various shapes, from slouchy to stovepipe and inverted ice cream cones. I’m sure because I tried many.
Many didn’t make the trip, as they were made for long-legged ostriches. Their swizzle sticks couldn’t be pushed over my knees or six-foot thighs. However, Roger Vivier’s buckled version was a delight for the femur. Both the boots conjured “Puss In Boots” and allowed for free, unrestrained strutting thanks to their split-back legs. To grab a quick bite, I wore them in a short dress. I called this outfit Provocative Pisgrm Who Swashbuckles In Her Spare Time.” I explained to the bartender, who hadn’t asked. I was confused, but he listened. He also praised the pair of silver calfskin midthigh sets by Isabel Marant that turned heads at a Midtown restaurant. Tod’s flat-heeled leather pair that measured in at hip height was appropriate for buck hunting with aristocrats. It can be paired with a shirtdress. These styles are connected to the “old money core,” which Ms. Aelm calls “a strange trend of wanting to appear very exclusive.” They were not for elitism but because of their versatility and comfort.
High boots have been in fashion for a long time. This is evident in “Shoes”: Anatomy Identity, Magic, a new exhibition at New York’s Museum at FIT curated and curated by Colleen Hill and Dr. Valerie Steele. The first example of over-the-knee boots in the show–a black 1930s design from a French fetishwear company–features modest heels and 118 brass loops. Dr. Steele joked that taking them off and on making it a two-person job. She believes tall boots combine phallic imagery with sexual innuendo. This may be why marginalized groups like drag queens and glam rockers embraced tall boots.
If you are not Gene Simmons, the bottom half of your outfit should “disappear,” according to Tamara Mellon (bicoastal designer), whose buttery boots I paired with a fitted jumpsuit. She suggested styling them with a flowing gown that is slit at the side or with leggings and an oversized sweater. She said, “It’s an outfit for winter.” You can complete the look with a giant sweater and a boot that goes over your knees. It’s easy, but you look put together.
These boots are costly, as I mentioned. Dr. Steele could not answer my question about whether or not this was a temporary trend. She said, “Depends upon whether or not they sold.” High-quality footwear, whether leather or not, requires a lot of material. This makes them expensive. I decided to take the plunge. The pair I purchased–flat, chunky, and extra-tall in Calfskin- arrived just as I finished my story. While debating whether to return the purchase, I took them off and stomped around my temporary home. My thinking was clarified when I saw a vast, possibly mutant water bug crawling across my bedroom floor. Protected from any potential splatter, my legs were fully covered as I bravely stomped on this 3-inch beast. I am keeping the boots, including any remaining insects.