From necessary battlefield footwear, to part of an oft-repeated childhood taunt, to rugged fashion statement, combat boots have certainly left their footprints on society. Boys and girls alike have embraced the formidable footwear over the years to make a variety of statements about themselves and each other.
When one thinks of unisex footwear, the sneaker is usually the first thing that comes to mind. These comfortable, quick-footed and casual shoes have long been enjoyed by both genders. But they don’t carry the powerful connotations of a combat boot, a military necessity that became a surefire sign of teenage rebellion. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Combat boots were originally passed down from fathers in the 40s that had battled Hitler and lived to tell the tale. Kids embraced combat boots, leather bombardier jackets and other forms of military surplus as a tip of the hat to the brave soldiers, wearing them as much as a tribute as a fashion statement.
Then came the Vietnam War, a conflict that was less admirable and respected to the youth of the day. Military apparel began to be worn as a sign of protest and disapproval with the war, often adorned with a peace sign or two to by counterculture hippies to drive their point home. The once-respected military garb was now something to be mocked by those that wanted to give peace a chance.
By the end of the 70s, the war had come to an end and a new generation was ready to call combat boots their own. This time it was the punk rockers and skinheads who preferred the aggressive aura that a combat boot represented to them. With its steel-toed might, it was a way to metaphorically stomp on the establishment and show fashion solidarity with their angry brethren.
By the 90s, combat boots had lost some of the aggressive implications and become more trendy than anarchistic, embraced by the grunge and riot grrrl movement who simply wanted to march to their own drum beat and distance themselves from what was fashionable acceptable by the mainstream. Military attire and combat boots became the epitome of anti-fashion.
It is anyone’s guess as to the role that combat boots will play in future generations. Will they remain a symbol of counter culture or come full circle and once again be a showing of respect for the troops? Hard to say – but one thing is for certain. For many kids of the future, the old “Your momma wears combat boots” is likely to be less of a tease that merely a statement of fact. Momma may not wear them now, but if she had any sort of rebellious history, chances are she once did wear combat boots – and quite proudly.
How about you? Got a pair gathering dust in your closet from your youth? Still pull them out and wear them on occasion, tell us about your own combat boots memories in our comments section as we reflect upon this iconic footwear, here at Retroland.