Against a landscape of lace-ups, slips on, and monk straps, the Chelsea Boot is beginning to return to prominence. Chelsea Boots reach back to Victorian-era England where they were originally conceptualized as a riding boot, posing an alternative to knee-high boots that were not necessarily practical. Despite having a much shorter cut, the Chelsea Boot maintained its functionality as a riding boot by having elastic straps on both sides. The elastic siding was developed in 1837 by Sparkes-Hall, the bootmaker to Queen Elizabeth. Sparkes-Hall elaborated on Charles Goodyear’s recent discovery of vulcanized rubber, to create a sturdy band that secured the boot tightly around the foot. The elastic bands stretch from just above the welt to the top of the boot, allowing for easy access and removal, something clearly lacking in traditional riding boots. The straps help contribute to the overall tight look of the boot by eliminating the need for laces, making for a streamlined silhouette.
Chelsea Boots remained a popular style up until World War I when rubber became a scare commodity and production of the boots became an impossibility. Following both World Wars production resumed and in the 1960’s Chelsea Boots enjoyed a resurgence that was marked by their popularity amongst the young British Mod scene. Mod rockers wore Chelsea Boots for much the same reason why people wear them today, because they work perfectly with tapered trousers. The sleek look of Chelsea Boots make them great complimentary footwear for narrower pants, as they maintain a clean overall appearance. Here are some options: