Combat boots

Combat boots

Fashion Synopsis

Your momma wears combat boots.

All schoolyard insults aside, the Army combat boot is the only unisex footwear that has given the sneaker a run for its money in the race to become a footwear staple. Both the sneaker and the combat boot are firmly entrenched on the feet of teenagers, but each represents the duplicity of growing up: the sneaker is the ultimate in comfort, casualness, and speed, while the combat boot represents aggression, power, and strength.

The anti-fashion footwear, the combat boot has stomped out a path of teenage rebellion since the 1940’s. When fathers returned from the second World War, their children filled their shoes, literally. When the war ended, military surplus became a trendy teenage fad, and the new youth culture pulled on their father’s Army boots in addition to their leather bomber jackets. Patriotic youths of the 40’s would never disrespect the military forces, and when they wore the surplus combat boots, it was as much a show of respect as it was a fashion statement. Boys wore the boots with their straight-leg denim jeans, rolled and cuffed to the ankle to show off their boots.

During the late 60’s, when the Vietnam War spurred protests and dissension across the country, military surplus took on a different, negative connotation. In those politically rebellious days, counterculture youths wore the boots and military surplus clothing as a sign of disrespect and protest. They mixed military garb with the ethnic flavor of hippie fashion as a satirical stab against the war effort.

It wasn’t until the mid-70’s, when punk adopted the combat boot as part of its uniform, that the boot took a threatening stance. Surplus combat boots with steel toe construction were the working man’s boots, and were adopted by fringe groups like the skinheads and punk rockers. The boots represented the rage and violence of these rebellious groups, and racist skinheads used the boots as a canvas: they replaced their boots with colored laces, less a fashion statement than a show of their dedication to their group, and a warning to others.

Combat boots stayed on the feet of fringe groups through the 70's and 80's, but the grunge and riot grrrl scenes of the early 90's took the army surplus look to the mainstream. Even so, combat boots generally adorn the feet of those who march to the beat of a different drum. The tough, anti-fashion shoes symbolize fierce loyalty, strength and power, whether they are on the feet of the armed forces or the sub-culture rebels.

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girl's apparel
boy's apparel

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