What is a Chelsea boot?
Chelsea boots are close-fitting, ankle-high boots with an elastic side panel. They often have a loop or tab of fabric on the back of the boot, enabling the boot to be pulled on. The boot dates back to the Victorian era, when it was worn by both men and women.
Chelsea boots and some of its variants were considered an iconic element of the 1960s in Britain, particularly the mod scene.
The design is credited to Queen Victoria's shoemaker J. Sparks-Hall. The shoemaker claimed that "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 of the elastic gusset boot. The advantage of elasticised boots meant they could be easily removed and put on again. By the late 1840s, 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. They were worn by everyone from the Rolling Stones to Jean Shrimpton. It is believed to explain how the name "Chelsea" became attached to the boot.