Made in Chelsea: the history of Chelsea Boots


The weather in London has been dreadful for the past week, with strong winds and enough rain to feel like you were bathing under a fall on the mountains. I have been forced to put aside my standard ballet flats and give in to the more masculine option of boots. I have been surfing the net in a waiting room with the lady next to me giving me advice, but our individual taste had no common ground. I’ve even been looking into replicas of the boots of a Victorian can-can dancer, but there was very little I liked.
In the end, I’ve settled for something that is making enough of a come-back to be sold for 20£ in New Look, the Chelsea boots. Something I would easily associate with teenage crushes on members of indie bands, not me.

Chelsea boots have an interesting history. It is thought that the name comes from the mod culture on King’s Road in the 60s. However, the design comes from the Victorian age. They are a patent from Queen Victoria’s shoemaker and they were, no surprise there, walking boots. Something that would have fit the way Chelsea looked like when it was St Thomas More’s land, and it would have been like the countryside walks of a romantic novel. By the 1890s, Chelsea was the quartier des artistes of London. 34 Tite Street was the London residence of one of my literary favourites, role model and subject of extensive studies Oscar Wilde. Maybe they would have been seen as bohemian enough for certain salons.

The Gentlemen’s Chronicles defines these boots as the casual to smart staple of a modern’s man wardrobe. I must admit there is something pleasing about them matched with a slim cut suit. I’ve always found the Mod culture fascinating. Contrary to other youth subcultures, despite the fact that they were rebelling against the status quo, they had very elegant clothing. There was something polished about the looks that really contrasts everything else about it.

Chelsea itself retains this character, which has been partly lost in Carnaby Street, with its big American Apparel store and hipster independent coffee bars. Maybe not King’s Road itself, but there is something at the same time polished and bohemian about the red brick houses of the side streets. Real-life Chelsea looks so different from the modern and edgy portrait that is shown on Made in Chelsea. Maybe having an old nostalgic soul is like tinted glasses that will always show a different reality than everyone else’s.

My London wardrobe doesn’t have that many clothes that would betray I’ve ever been someone who’d have driven for quite some time to be at Twist and Shout, although the great thing about fashion is that it gives you a chance to play with it and dress like yourself. And yet, somewhere inside me, that girl is there, and she’s now walking with a spring in her steps in a shift dress and Chelsea boots.

If you want to join the club, despite the low price and high street brand they are surprisingly comfortable, and they come in Tan which is the most versatile colour if you, like me, wear blue a lot (my favourite colour regardless of the party) and have a Longchamp LePliage as your go-to bag.

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