Monday, 20 December 2010

How Top Boots Got Their Tops

Despite the fact that the ape is nearly naked most days (well, it is about 30'C here), it's about time that he started at least talking about getting dressed and if, owing to his normal, general nakedness, it is just all talk, there is no audience to pick up and despair at the clash between his aspiration and his practice. But the material that I have, excess to any publisher's willingness or ability to publish it all, should not be allowed go to waste; for, already:

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Top boots are hunting boots and are worn by members of the hunt who have earned their colours that is to say the right to wear the hunt's buttons and a coloured hunt coat. Top boots are worn with the coloured frock hunt coat or a black frock hunt coat (both with the hunt buttons). But how did top boots get their tops?

The likeliest explanation is that, once, riding boots reached over the knee at the front, as the above picture of members of the Household Cavalry demonstrates (in their cases, these boots are still like this).

When these boots were worn in the mud and rain they became soiled and so, on entering a house, the wearer would turn the tops down to cover the mud around the tops. This exposed the lighter lining of the boots and, gradually, as boots lost their extended tops, the coloured ornamental tops were adopted as one of the more enduring fashions, echoing the older style.

The second picture shows some splendid top boots in the WS Foster and Henry Maxwell collection. Henry Maxwell has held warrants as bootmaker, from every sovereign since George IV to Elizabeth II, and has always been accredited as one of the very finest bootmakers in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment