A fashion boot is a boot worn for reasons of style or fashion (rather than for utilitarian purposes – e.g. not hiking boots, riding boots, rain boots, etc.). The term is usually applied to women’s boots. Fashion boots come in a wide variety of styles, from ankle to thigh-length, and are used for casual, formal, and business attire. Although boots were a popular style of women’s footwear in the Nineteenth Century, they were not recognized as a high fashion item until the 1960s. They became widely popular in the 1970s and have remained a staple of women’s winter wardrobes since then.
In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, ankle and calf-length boots were common footwear for women. Rising hemlines made longer styles of boots popular. In 1913, Denise Poiret, the wife of celebrated French couturier Paul Poiret, caused a sensation in Paris and New York by wearing knee-length boots in wrinkled Morocco leather. Designed by her husband, made by the bottier Favereau, and styled with a low heel and a square toe, she had versions in red, white, green, and yellow. By 1915 the New York Times was reporting that, inspired by Mme Poiret, women had adopted these "Russian boots" as an acceptable alternative to baring ankles and calves. By the 1920s Russian boots were available in a variety of styles, calf- or knee-length, with a Cuban or Louis heel, which could be pull-on, or zip-fastened for a closer fit. Worn with knee-length skirts, they often featured decorative features such as elaborate stitching or fur trims.
Over-the-knee boots (or cuissardes, which include thighboots, top boots, hip-boots, and waders) are long boots that fully or partly cover the knee. Originally created as a man’s riding boot in the 15th Century, in the latter part of the 20th Century the style was redefined as a fashion boot for women. OTK boots are also used as a work boot in circumstances requiring additional protection for the legs (e.g. fisherman’s waders).