What Are Vintage Lace-Up Boots?

Bonnie Doss-Knight
Bonnie Doss-Knight
A brush for cleaning vintage suede boots.
A brush for cleaning vintage suede boots.

Vintage lace-up boots are any type of women's boots that are secured with laces and evoke the fashion of an earlier era. These boots are most commonly crafted from leather or suede, although some more recent versions have been made with vinyl or plastic. Suede, front-laced, ankle-high boots became popular during the 1930s. Vintage boots were considered high-fashion footwear during the 1960s. Low-heeled, knee-high boots — often called go-go boots — were sometimes crafted from vinyl or plastic.

In the late 20th century, upscale designers influenced reproductions of lace-up boots, labeling them as vintage-inspired. Designers enhanced these boots with accents such as buckles, studs or elaborate stitching. In many ways, lace-up boots or women have been replaced by boots with zippers, although some of them still have faux laces.

Die-hard collectors and fashionistas might spot authentic vintage lace-up boots at estate sales or collectible clothing outlets. Vintage lace-up boots enjoy a classic status in fashion, making either gently worn originals or reproductions a long-term investment for many women. They can be hard to find and costly, however, which is why modern reproductions of vintage boots can be a good option for some people.

Vintage lace-up boots can be elegant, and many women have adopted them as personal signature accessories. There are several types of vintage lace-up boots for women to assess before making a purchase. For wearing with jeans or slacks, the ankle lace-up boot has remained stylish in the fashion world. Knee-length boots can be worn with dresses as well as pants. Likely not as popular in the mainstream are thigh-high boots, which are considered by some people to have a rather racy reputation.

Among other influencing factors for women to consider when selecting vintage lace-up boots is their width. If the boots are too tight or too wide, they can create pain and discomfort. A major asset of vintage lace-up boots is that they will better accommodate a larger calf size than zippered boots because they can be tied loosely if necessary.

Utilitarian-style, front-laced vintage boots were worn by women working in factories during the 1940s. These boots sport wide toes, are comfortable and sturdy and offer protection from the elements. Pixie ankle boots became a vast influence during the 1980s punk style of dressing. They featured lace-up fronts, metal grommets, leather heels and trendy, pointed toes. One outstanding feature of the pixie ankle boot is the cuff, which can be turned up if the wearer so desires.

Discussion Comments


I love go-go boots! 60's fashions were so much fun, I'm glad they keep coming back into style.

@pastanaga - I know what you mean about the sizes being good. I have quite thick calves and often find it really hard to get boots that will fit me. The lace up ones always fit me, of course, because I can just adjust them until they do.

But unless you get lucky with a good second hand find, they can be quite expensive. It's worth shopping around to get a pair that will last you a long time.

And, if you're getting only the one pair, you might want to stay away from the go-go boots! Those colors only go with a handful of outfits...


One good thing about this kind of boot is that it seems to be easier to find them in larger sizes. They are also flat, even though people associate them with girls, which is a plus.

I'm quite tall and have big feet, so wearing heels is often uncomfortable for me. But, I find lace up boots to be quite comfortable.

You have to be careful not to get a kind that will express what you want them to express though. Different kinds of lace up boots seem to be associated with different cultures, like goth and punk and so forth.

On the other hand, you might not care what people think!

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    • A brush for cleaning vintage suede boots.
      By: Africa Studio
      A brush for cleaning vintage suede boots.