Types and Uses
Boots designed for walking through the elements may be made of a single closely stitched design (using leather, rubber, canvas, or similar material) to prevent the entry of water, snow, mud or dirt through gaps between the laces and tongue found in other types of shoes. Waterproof gumboots are made in different lengths of uppers. In extreme cases, thigh-boots called waders, worn by anglers, extend to the hip. Such boots may also be insulated for warmth. Most boots sold in retail stores are not actually waterproof.
Speciality boots have been made to temporarily protect steelworkers if they get caught in pools of molten metal, to protect workers from a variety of chemical exposure, and insulated, inflatable boots for use in Antarctica. Most work boots are "laceups" made from leather. Formerly they were usually shod with hobnails and heel- and toe-plates, but now usually with a thick rubber sole, and often with steel toecaps. Work boots (like the popular Dr. Martens) were adopted by skinheads and punks as part of their typical dress and have migrated to more mainstream fashion, including women's wear. As a more rugged alternative to dress shoes, dress boots may be worn (though these can be more formal than shoes).
Boots are normally worn with socks to prevent chafes and blisters, to absorb sweat and to improve the foot's grip inside the boot. Before socks became widely available, footwraps were worn instead.
Specialty boots have been designed for many different types of sports, particularly riding, skiing and snowboarding, ice-skating, and sporting in wet/damp conditions.
Fashionable boots for women may exhibit all the variations seen in other fashion footwear: tapered or spike heels, platform soles, pointed toes, zipper closures and the like. The popularity of boots as fashion footwear ebbs and flows. They were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but diminished in popularity towards the end of the 20th century. Today, they are becoming popular, especially designs with a long bootleg. Boot bolo's, boot bracelets, boot straps, boot chains, and boot harnesses, are used to decorate boots.
Boots have their own devotees among boot fetishists, shoe fetishists and foot fetishists. Singer Nancy Sinatra was largely responsible for popularizing the fad of women wearing boots in the late 1960s.
In comic books, many "super-heroes" and/or "super-villains" wear boots as part of their customary outfits.
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