Soft thigh high boots are back I’m afraid
Bag of potatoes, but make it fashionable.
To me, larger than life soft boots are a bit like horror movies. When I see them, I can’t look away. And out of fear, I respect them. But that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Naturally, seeing these bodacious boots come back into fashion leaves me with mixed emotions.
Rihanna was the first to mark their comeback. During a recent outing with partner A$AP Rocky, the beauty mogul donned a pair of chunky denim thigh-high boots from Y/Project’s Spring ’23 collection. The shoes were high and wide, brushing the bottom of her miniskirt and causing some to mistake them for pants. With that, the confused shoe case was reopened.
This week alone, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner stepped out in an iteration of the Super Tall Boot. And months ago, excessive shoes were stomping all over the Fall 2022 runways. Designers such as Isabel Marant, Alaïa and Balenciaga all presented their own take on the totally oversized shoe. As these boots go higher and higher, I worry about feet everywhere.
I can forget the fact that they look like my dad’s waterproof waders. It’s the logistics that puzzle me. With a furrowed material that widens upwards, they appear to defy gravity. Their vague resemblance to the Sorting Hat of Harry Potter leaves me wondering if they will come to life. They rub together as you walk, creating a feeling I can only imagine comparable to wading through quicksand. The thing is, these boots just aren’t made for walking.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand their subversive appeal. After rising to prominence in women’s fashion in the 1960s, traditional thigh-high boots have long been marketed as “sexy.” By making them absurdly wide and adding a sloppy edge, baggy boots undermine the gendered associations of their original shape.
And of course, there’s a benefit to shoes that look like they could eat you whole. I would like more shoes to serve as a secret bunker in emergency situations. Practicality aside, I can see how they could fit into a celebrity’s lifestyle. Maybe that’s why Rihanna has long championed them.
In 2018, Y/Project infamously collaborated with Ugg on a presentation that sent models crashing down the runway in crotchless boots, with excess material spilling over itself. The collection left the internet divided and the show was instant meme fodder. Soon after, however, the Fenty Beauty CEO wore the bold design, calling it really cool.
But fashionable or not, their portability isn’t great. They are super hot. As in, too hot. They are difficult to move. They even fall slightly when you walk. And this is where I really disagree. With an oversized, battered and wrinkled appearance, baggy thigh high boots send a false promise of comfort. If I have to walk around in potato bag pumps, I think I should at least enjoy the comfort benefits. Is it so bad?
Unfortunately for me, such boots are no longer just a 2018 fever dream. New iterations dominate recent designer collections, and Rihanna has once again given her street style approval. Feeling of a theme here? These shoes are back, and that should come as no surprise.
After all, the return of XXL fashion has been preparing for seasons. Last winter, the oversized Y2K Moon boots became a celebrity staple, signaling demand for chunky cold weather footwear. In the realm of resurrected impractical footwear, it looks like the Moon Boot walked so the soft boot could run – er, stomp.
Despite their trend, scrunchy thigh high boots leave me perplexed. But I guess that’s the whole point. These boots aren’t meant to have meaning, they’re meant to make a statement. And if the goal is to make me feel something – be it visceral stress – then mission accomplished, shoes.