Favored by “it” girls like Bella and Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin, combat boots are a must-have for women’s wardrobes this fall.
But the shoes weren’t always a part of sartorially inclined folks’ closets. As its name implies, the combat boot got its start as a men’s military shoe. It came with practical features like a sturdy leather upper, a rubber outsole and even a steel toe.
The shoe’s history as a fashion item dates back first to the ’60s and ’70s, when the Dr. Martens boot became a staple of British punk style. Teamed with mohawks, tartan kilts and ripped stockings, the shoe emulated the counterculture — and by the ’80s, the fervor spread to the United States, thanks to the popularity of bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
In the ’90s, the boots were common stock among members of the Seattle grunge scene. They had their first brush with high fashion at the Perry Ellis spring ’93 show, which infamously got then-vice president of women’s Marc Jacobs fired. While the grungey show put Jacobs — then just 29 years-old — on the map, it was a challenge to the fussy status quo of New York Fashion Week, footwear included.
In celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary last year, Jacobs collaborated with Dr. Martens on an updated version of the shoes from that Perry Ellis show.
Given their current pervasiveness, combat boots aren’t as anti-establishment as they once were — except when they feature a fresh twist.
Bella Hadid wearing Prada combat boots during Paris Fashion Week on Sept. 30. Take the monstrous form of Prada’s fall ’19 combat-inspired silhouette, which laces up to nearly the knee and features whimsical pocket detailing, or the innovation of Dior’s spring ’19 take, which features fishnet cut-outs.
Click through the gallery to see more combat boots through the years.
Bella Hadid Wears Fierce Combat Boots on the Streets at PFW
These $28 Combat Boots Are So Popular, They’re Going Viral
Try the Trend: Combat Boots to Wear With Any Outfit This Winter