Chelsea Boots, also known as dealer boots, jodhpur boots and paddock boots, are close-fitting, ankle-high boots. The most notable features are the elastic side panel and tab of fabric on the back of the boot, enabling it to be slipped on and off. The design's history dates back to the Victorian era, when it was worn by both men and women. Chelsea boots were considered an iconic element of the 1960s mod scene. Australian work boots, which are popular in Australia, are another variation based on the Chelsea boot.
The design is credited to Queen Victoria's shoemaker J. Sparkes-Hall. The shoemaker certainly claimed it as his own, patenting the design in 1851 and citing his royal wearer, saying: "She [Queen Victoria] walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention". In his advertising of the period, he refers to the boot as J. Sparkes-Hall's Patent Elastic Ankle Boots. The boot became popular for horse riding as well as walking.
Charles Goodyear's development of vulcanised rubber enabled the invention elastic gusset boot. The advantage of elasticised boots meant they could be easily removed and put on again. By the late 1940s, the fashion began to catch on. This became a prominent style in the West until the onset of World War I.
In the 1950s and '60s, Chelsea boots became popular in the UK – and their association with the King's Road set of Swinging London – worn by everyone from the Rolling Stones to Jean Shrimpton – is believed to explain how the name Chelsea became attached to the boot.
Theatrical and ballet shoe maker Anello & Davide created Chelsea boots with cuban heels for The Beatles, after John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw the design in its shop window and commissioned four pairs – this style became known as Beatle boots. The boots were frequently adopted by mods, worn with tailored suits. Mods also favoured other casual styles such as desert boots and loafers.
Some modern versions of the boot have a side zip rather than an elastic panel.
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