If you subscribe to the Nancy Sinatra view that boots are made for walking, then we’ve got good news for you. It’s boot season!
While boots come in a variety of heights, one style makes a particularly bold fashion statement: the over-the-knee boot.
As the name suggests, over-the-knee boots ― also known simply as OTK boots or sometimes as above-the-knee boots, thigh-high boots, cuissardes or hip boots ― are tall boots that cover the knee.
Countless celebrities have sported this style at red carpet events and other public outings in recent months ― including Heidi Klum, Jurnee Smollett and Ciara.
Over-the-knee boots have been around for at least 600 years. In the 15th century, they became popular as riding boots for men as a form of leg protection amid the decline in full plate armor.
The style became even more common in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is believed to be the source of the term “bootleg” ― for smugglers’ practice of concealing bottles of alcohol in the legs of their tall boots.
Over-the-knee boots continued to be a popular style of men’s riding boot into the 19th century. And they marked their rise in women’s fashion in the 20th century.
A 1962 collaboration between Balenciaga and René Mancini featured boots that went above the knee. The following year, Roger Vivier designed a thigh-high alligator skin boot for Yves Saint Laurent’s couture collection. And with that, a ’60s and ’70s fashion trend was born.
At this point, the over-the-knee boot is basically a fall and winter staple. In 2019, a photo of 10 lifestyle influencers standing on fallen leaves in an array of mostly brown over-the-knee boots went viral and quickly became a meme in the spirit of “Christian Girl Autumn.”
The footwear has also been part of many noteworthy pop culture moments.
Jane Fonda wore over-the-knee boots in the late ’60s and early ’70s for “Barbarella” and “Klute.” More recently, Anne Hathaway sported epic over-the-knee boots for multiple movie roles ― most notably during her post-makeover reveal in “The Devil Wears Prada” and as the darkly alluring Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman” appears in over-the-knee boots, and the iconic manga heroine Sailor Moon’s ensemble includes a red pair.
When it comes to choosing a pair of over-the-knee boots for yourself, there’s a wide array of options.
You can go for leather, suede or another textured material. And, while flat is a good option, you may want to try an elevating block heel. Black and brown are classic color choices, but you can also go for white or a brighter hue. Just make sure they’re comfortable and stay up.
As for styling, the possibilities are similarly vast. A lot of people put their above-the-knee-boots over skinny jeans or leggings ― often in the same color for a monochrome look. But you might opt to wear them with a miniskirt, or shorts with tights or bare legs to let a little skin peek out.
Or you can always put together a more work-friendly ensemble with a midiskirt or dress.
However you coordinate your boots, try to channel your inner Nancy Sinatra and walk with style.
If you’re looking to try out the over-the-knee boot look this fall, we’ve rounded up some fun options, below.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.