Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock

In keeping with my series on gentlemens boots I present to you the Paddock!

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Horse riders of the nineteenth century needed something less cumbersome than the standard riding boot. Bookmakers responded to this need by developing the lace-up Paddock boot.  As the name indicates, this lace up ankle-height leather boot was ideal for Victorian gentlemen to wear around the paddock when training horses and seducing the fair maidens riding them. It stand to reason that the Paddock boot descend to us from the English riding tradition.

Paddock boots are still worn for equestrian work and Ariat makes athletic grade pairs. These are not the kind for a gentleman to wear in his regular wardrobe. I am using the term Paddock boot to apply to the ankle boot for men that fastens by laces (as opposed to the buckle of the Jodhpur and the rubber sides of the Chelsea) and where the boot’s collar is no more than a few inches above the ankle. It should go without saying only Paddock  boots made with both leather sole and vamp are appropriate for a gentleman. (I’m speaking to you, Michael.)

Fancy Footwear -The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

Fancy Footwear - The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

There are other styles of lace-up ankle boots for men. The elegance and lightness of the Paddock set it apart from the other types. The light and durable design of the Paddock boot proved very popular and they became the alternative footwear used with horses instead of  the knee-high ‘tall’ riding boots of the time. Tall boots are now usually only worn in very formal riding settings. They are also sometimes appropriate for a gentleman to wear outside of riding, but more of that later.

Bootmakers design Paddock boots in a variety of styles, given their qualities of lightness and durability. This variety of styles in turn makes them acceptable for wear in formal and casual settings where, say, a hiking or motorcycle boot would be extremely wrong. Cowboy boots require very special handling and are not for the faint of heart! (I’ll look at these types of boots soon enough!)

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

As I am in the warning mood, I would like to take a moment to caution against the use of ankle boots, or any boots for that matter, that make use of side zippers. One of the chief statements a quality leather boot makes is that its wearer has taken the time to dress and dress well. convenience is never a gentleman’s consideration, and should never be confused with functionality. Hurrying is not part of a gentleman’s appearance.

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

If you wear zipped boots you might as well wear a belt that fastens with Velcro! A Dandy steers clear of anything that might pull his attire into the realm of costume, and nothing indicates a costume in footwear faster than an unsightly zipper.

Article first published as Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock on Technorati.

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