Go-go boot

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For the album, see Go-Go Boots (album).
Go-go boot
Girl in 1968 wearing go-go boots

Go-go boots are a low-heeled style of women's fashion boot worn since the mid-1960s.


The term go-go is derived from the French expression à gogo, meaning "in abundance, galore",[1] which is in turn derived from the ancient French word la gogue for "joy, happiness".[2] The term "go-go" has also been explained as a 1964 back-formation of the 1962 slang term "go", meaning something that was "all the rage"; the term "go-go dancer" first appeared in print in 1965.[3]

The first Whisky à Go-Go opened in Paris in 1947. In 1958, the first Whisky a Go Go in North America opened in Chicago, Illinois, on the corner of Rush Street and Chestnut Street.[4][5] It has been called the first real American discothèque.


Go-go boots reached the calf, knee, or were above the knee with a low or flat heel and had a chiseled, rounded, or pointed toe. The boot is usually fastened with a side or back zipper, although by the 1970s it was not uncommon to find lace-up versions that accommodated a wider variety of calf sizes. Heel shapes can range from completely flat to about 1" in height, with the occasional exception of the two-inch Cuban heel also known as the "kupfer or Trani" (as on Beatle boots).[citation needed]

Materials can be synthetic or natural, with the oldest designs being made from plastic or vinyl in various colors, the most popular being white. Women's styles tend to be taller, tighter, and with a slightly higher heel than girl's styles.[6]

Today, this style is considered retro. Ariana Grande has worn go-go boots on more than one occasion: at the 2014 Radio Disney Music Awards (RDMAs), and the cover of her single "Problem."


The idea of a women's mainstream fashion boot was revolutionary. Before the introduction of go-go boots, women's boots were generally worn only during inclement weather, rugged activities, or horseback riding, but not as street shoes. This new style of footwear was designed to complement the shorter hemlines of the new, modern look. Go-go boots draw attention to the legs and accentuate the simple A‑line silhouettes, but also offer some modest coverage for less daring but fashion-minded women.

Golo Footwear, an American shoemaker, is generally credited with designing the first go-go boot in 1961.[7] This new look, however, was considered quite radical, and did not start to gain commercial success until photographer Bert Stern shot Barbara Streisand wearing them in the August 1965 issue of Vogue.[8][9]

The go-go boot became a signature look for designer André Courrèges, who is sometimes cited as the originator of the fashion go-go boot. A low-heeled, calf-high boot made of white plastic with a clear, cut-out slot near the top was featured as part of the "moon girl" look featured in his fall 1964 collection.[10] Other designers, including Mary Quant, designed their own versions of go-go boots. As hemlines rose, so did the height of the boot, and the heel height dropped proportionately, culminating in a pair of thigh-high garter boots designed by Yves Saint-Laurent, which clipped up underneath the tiniest of skirts.[11] Manufacturers began mass-producing runway knock-offs in contemporary colors and materials. These knock-offs were extremely popular with teenagers, who could be seen wearing go-go boots both on the street and in television dance shows. They were often seen worn by "dolly birds" in London during the 1960s. The boots usually had a zipper in the back although some styles featured a side zipper or no zipper at all.

Female dancers on the television shows Hullabaloo and Shindig also wore the short, white boots. As such, those came to be called "Hullabaloo boots" and "Shindig boots". Beverly Bivens, lead singer of We Five, wore such boots for several television appearances by the band in 1965. Nancy Sinatra's song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (1966) helped popularize go-go boots, and the space age boots worn by Jane Fonda in the science fiction film Barbarella (1968) showcased them further.

Fashion trends progressed and as women's trousers and maxi-length skirts where only the foot showed became popular, legs were de‑emphasized. By the early 1970s, go-go boots were referred to simply as "boots", and the emphasis shifted to the height of the heel and the development of the platform. Many women wore them in the 1970s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "gogo". Merriam-Webster. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  2. ^ Le Petit Robert: GOGO (À), 1440; de l'a. fr. gogue "réjouissance"
  3. ^ "''Online Etymology Dictionary'': go-go". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  4. ^ "Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection>> Results >> Details". Webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  5. ^ "Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection>> Results >> Details". Webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  6. ^ "Solemates: A Century in Shoes: 1960". Centuryinshoes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  7. ^ Harper's Bazaar, September 1962
  8. ^ Vogue, August 1965
  9. ^ MacSweeny, Eve (2001).Nostalgia in Vogue. Rizzoli.
  10. ^ History of Fashion & Costume: Courrèges
  11. ^ "Go-Go Boots: A Foot-First Jump into the Wacky World of Mod Footwear". Coololdstuff.com. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of go-go at Wiktionary