The rise of the Russian boot – fashion archive, 15 December 1925 | Fashion

Walking through the snow

It is not difficult to see how Russian boots were evolved, for they are obviously appropriate protection for people accustomed to walking through deep snow. The width of the leg was no doubt designed so that the boots might be easily slipped over thicker protection than the stockings worn in our own country, and the resulting bagginess would not be so unsightly when worn with correspondingly bulky fur garments.

But when these boots are transferred from their original setting and worn by modern English women all devotees of the slim silhouette and carefully choosing clothes that will attain this effect, when they are worn, by women who walk unimpeded along well-swept streets never guilty of more than an-inch-deep layer of snow and the only danger a splash of mud from passing motor-cars or ‘buses, then the boots no longer look anything but incongruous and ugly. For the slimness of the coats with which they are usually worn exaggerates the bulkiness of the boots, and the boots break the slim line of the coats so that neither one effect nor the other is achieved. Those Englishwomen who have adopted Russian boots usually offer the excuse that the boots are warm and cosy on cold days and save one’s stockings from mud splashes and so too frequent washing. But would not the knee-length English boots afford equal advantages?

Even now when the Russian boots are worn with furs or suitably wide and heavy skirts by Englishwomen, though they do not look absolutely absurd, they do not look quite at home. There is something flamboyant about these boots which does not suit the average Englishwoman or go well with our sober English streets.

the rise of the russian boot fashion archive 15 december 1925 fashion - The rise of the Russian boot - fashion archive, 15 December 1925 | Fashion

A shopper in Oxford Street wearing the new Russian boots, December 1925. Photograph: ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Advice to converts

For those English women who have definitely adopted the fashion it is worth pointing out a few obvious pitfalls. It is absolutely essential that the boots should be worn with a skirt just long-enough to reach the top the boots, and neither longer nor shorter. The boots look best with a fur coat, but in any case should never be worn with a flimsy skirt. The skirt must be wide enough to balance the bagginess of the leg of the boot.

In choosing the boots it is wise to avoid the coloured (other than brown, which are probably the best-looking of any) or high-heeled varieties, as it is impossible to make them look anything but theatrical whatever they are worn with. That leaves a choice of black or brown leather or suede, lizard skin and the newly fashionable snake skins. The last two mentioned are expensive and even then do not often look as neat as the brown leather ones. The suede boots are comfortable and not ill-looking but are more difficult to keep clean than the leather ones. Small women should never be tempted to wear Russian boots at all, as they exaggerate the short figure in much the same way that a bulky fur coat does.