One of the earliest descriptions of boots as a fetishistic object can be found in Émile Zola's 1868 novel Thérèse Raquin. Hermine Hug-Hellmuth described boot fetishism scientifically in 1915. This article has also been published in English with comments by Arlene K. Richards in 1990, as Female fetishes and female perversions: Hermine Hug-Hellmuth's "A case of female foot or more properly boot fetishism" reconsidered.
Boots were used by S. Rachman as a subject for research on conditioning as a cause for fetishism in the 1960s, making men sexually aroused by seeing pictures of boots, but the results have been put into question later, as boots already were very much en vogue for sexually attractive women at the time.
Unlike shoes, boot styles have often appeared as street wear before they inspire fashion designers. Boots are usually seen as a sign of empowerment for the wearer, especially when worn by women. This may be a reason for the connection to BDSM, where boots usually are seen as a statement of dominance. So called boot worship became a common subcultural practice among sadomasochists and related fetishists in the early 20th Century.
High-heeled boots help to elongate the calf, creating a longer-legged appearance which is generally considered to be more sexually attractive. The length of the boot shafts also adds to this impression. Boots have been displayed in magazines such as Leg Show and there are also magazines and websites aimed directly at this fetish. The fetish of the boot may be accompanied by a fetish for the material which it is made from, like leather, rubber, or latex. Boot fetishism is often targeted at fashion boots and riding boots but there are also boots expressly made for fetish purposes, like ballet boots and some forms of thigh-high boots (see these respective words for references).
There is also a very prominent subsection of mostly gay men who fetishize men's boots. "boot worship" is a common practice in this group, to the point where there is a yearly contest to see who is the best bootblack. The types of boots favored by men differ from those worn by women, with men typically preferring more sturdy, rugged boots, such as combat boots, jump boots, motorcycle boots, or riding boots. These boots feature prominently in outfits worn by leather enthusiasts in competitions such as International Mr. Leather.
The mid-1960s British TV series The Avengers often featured fetishistic clothing, with Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, wore boots as a characteristic sign of her as a sexy and strong woman. Patrick Macnee and Rigg's successor Honor Blackman (as Cathy Gale) released a 45 RPM single in 1964 titled "Kinky Boots".
- Bradley Quinn. "The Boot". London (2010): Laurence King Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85669-663-0. Pages 68-73
- Edward Shorter: Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire. University of Toronto Press 2005, pages 222-223, ISBN 0-8020-3843-3
- Whitney Davis: Replications: Archaeology, Art History, Psychoanalysis. Pennsylvania Stat Press 1996, page 326, ISBN 027104411X. Accessed August 27, 2013.
- Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 77, No. 1, 1990, pp. 11-23, American Psychological Association. Accessed August 27, 2013.
- S. Rachman: Sexual fetishism: An experimental analogue. The Psychological Record, Vol 16(3), 1966, 293-296.
- Dean Burnett: Fifty Shades of Grey matter: the psychology of sexual arousal, The Guardian, August 8, 2012. Accessed August 27, 2013.
- Quinn, p. 130
- Quinn, p. 152–169
- Quinn, p. 73
- Quinn, p. 159–160
- Ken Tucker. All You Need Is Steed: 'Avengers' You Can Dance To, Entertainment Weekly, January 11, 1991. Accessed August 27, 2013.
- Quinn, p. 161–162
- Shoemaker, Brad (2010-10-19). "Super Meat Boy (video game )". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 2011-04-25.