Go-Go boots

For the album, see Go-Go Boots (album).

Go-go boots are a low-heeled style of women's fashion boot worn since the mid-sixties when fashion silhouettes focused on accentuating the leg. They first appeared in the 1960s.

Nowadays "go-go boot" is often used to describe any style of knee-high boots regardless of heel height, but this article mainly describes the original boot of that term.


The term Go-Go is derived from the French expression à gogo, meaning "in abundance, galore",[1] which is in turn derived from the ancient French word la gogue for "joy, happiness".[2] The term "go-go" has also been explained as a 1964 back construction of the 1962 slang term "go", meaning something that was "all the rage"; the term "go-go dancer" first appeared in print in 1965.[3]

In 1958, the first Whisky a Go-Go in North America opened in Chicago, on the corner of Rush Street and Chestnut Street.[4][5] It has been called the first real American discothèque. In Paris, the original accented Whisky à Go-Go opened in 1947.


Go-go boots are either calf-, knee- or above knee-high boots with a low or flat heel. The style is very simple in shape with a chiseled, rounded, or pointed toe. The boot is usually fastened with a side or back zipper, although by the Seventies it was not uncommon to find lace-up versions that accommodated a wider variety of calf sizes. Heel height ranges from flat to low 1" shaped, with the occasional two-inch Cuban heel also known as the "kupfer or Trani" (as on Beatle boots).

Materials can be synthetic or natural, with the oldest designs being made from plastic or vinyl in various colors, the most popular being white. Women's styles tend to be taller, tighter and with a slightly higher heel than girl's styles.[6]


The idea of a women's mainstream fashion boot was revolutionary. Before the introduction of go-go boots, women's boots were generally worn only during inclement weather, rugged activities, or horseback riding, but not as street shoes. This new style of footwear was designed to complement the shorter hemlines of the new, modern look. Go-go boots draw attention to the legs and accentuate the simple A-line silhouettes, but also offer some modest coverage for the less daring but fashion-minded women.

Golo Footwear, an American shoemaker, is generally credited with designing the first go-go boot in 1961.[7] This new look, however, was considered quite radical, and did not start to gain commercial success until photographer Irving Penn shot Barbra Streisand wearing them in the August 1965 issue of Vogue.[8][9]

The go-go boot became a signature look for designer André Courrèges, who is sometimes cited as the originator of the fashion go-go boot.; a low-heeled, calf-high boot made of white plastic with a clear cut-out slot near the top was featured as part of the "Moon Girl" look featured in his Fall 1964 collection.[10] Other designers, including Mary Quant, designed their own versions of go-go boots. As hemlines rose, so did the height of the boot, and the heel height dropped proportionately, culminating in a pair of thigh-high garter boots designed by Yves Saint-Laurent, which clipped up underneath the tiniest of skirts.[11] Manufacturers began mass-producing runway knock-offs in contemporary colors and materials. These knock-offs were extremely popular with teenagers, who could be seen wearing go-go boots both on the street and in television dance shows. They were often seen worn by "Dolly Birds" in London during the 1960s. The boots usually had a zipper in the back although some styles featured a side zipper or no zipper at all.

Female dancers on the TV shows, "Hullabaloo" and "Shindig!" also wore the short, white boots. As such, those came to be called Hullabaloo Boots and Shindig Boots. Beverly Bivens, leader sing of We Five, wore such boots for several television appearances by the band in 1965. Nancy Sinatra's 1966 number-one pop hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" helped popularize go-go boots, and the Space Age boots worn by Jane Fonda in 1968's science fiction film Barbarella were a nod to their erotic past.

Fashion trends progressed and as women's trousers and maxi-length skirts where only the foot showed became popular, legs were de-emphasized. By the early seventies, go-go boots were referred to simply as boots, and the emphasis shifted to the height of the heel and the development of the platform. Many women also wore them in the 70s.

Go-go boots vs. kinky boots

Go-go boots share some history with the UK's "kinky boots", a style of calf- to knee-length pull-on black leather boots with 3-4 inch heels and pointed toes. The term kinky boots referred to the style's Dominatrix and fetish origin and alludes to the perception that women in boots are powerful (i.e. like a Dominatrix.) Kinky boots broke into mainstream UK fashion in the early sixties and were seen on Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg in the original "Avengers" television series.

Modern-day use

Many versions of go-go boots are still worn today, although "go-go boot" is often used to describe any style of knee-high boots worn with a Oakland Raiderettes often wear go-go boots as part of their squad's uniform; high-heeled versions of go-go boots are still worn by exotic and go-go dancers; and reproductions are available from many costume and specialty stores.

See also


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