You’ve definitely seen harness boots, if not worn them already. They are characterized by a mid-calf shaft and four straps that meet on either side of the ankle, attaching to a metal ring. Most are commonly made with a leather or faux leather material and with a small heel. Depending on the style, they can add a country or biker feel to your everyday outfits.
Harness boots have never *not* been popular, but every few years—BAM—they blow up the fashion scene again. Having a pair in your closet is a fantastic idea. When selecting harness boots, consider first if they are for protection while riding or solely for fashion.
This will help you decide which aspects of the boot’s engineering to focus on since not all harness boots are created equal. It can be tricky to decipher between quality pairs versus less well-crafted boots, but you won’t have any issues with a keen eye and attention to detail (or when buying from a reputable vendor).
The quality of the materials the boots are built with, the traction they provide, and their breathability are all key factors in choosing your pair of boots.
Here is what you have to look for when buying them:
The History of Harness Boots
Harness boots were first worn by soldiers for the basic need of foot protection. With time they have become a staple for motorcycle riders; now, they work for everyday wearers like yourself. Their design was built to ensure safety and comfort that lasted all day.
In the 1970s, harness boots began being worn by women as a statement of their liberation. Breaking free of the usual feminine mold of the time, the sturdier boot was a movement for expression during the time.
Again, this same statement was made again in the 2000s, again with this style of boots representing some level of discomfort with the societal norm, creating a more rebellious look and toning down the femininity of some outfits.
Harness boots are like a red sky at sea: when there’s a big social movement going on, harness boots are having a big fashion moment themselves. They will never go out of style, as their design holds a strong place in history.
As with any piece you buy, longevity and the ability to withstand the elements and time are at the top of the list of things to consider when buying. It can be very easy to overlook the true quality of what the harness boot is built with if you come across an attractive pair at a great price. But remember that for a protective boot that will last, you have to inspect the label.
For ultimate protection, especially if you are looking for a pair to ride with, they need to be full or top grain leather and with a shaft that comes at least over your ankle, if not higher. The more protection, the better. If you’re looking for a pair for casual fashion, then you can choose the shaft height based on your personal preference, though still consider top-quality leather.
Once you’re certain the boots you’ve been eying are made with high-quality materials, next, you need to consider traction. It is extremely important for your safety to ensure that your harness boots, or truly any shoes you purchase, have good traction. This will help prevent slips and falls.
If you’re looking for a set of harness boots for riding, you have to take into consideration the occasional oil leaks from motorcycles or wet conditions after a rainy day. Dismounting can turn into a disaster without a proper grip on the soles of your boots.
For everyday wear, you still need a good hold. Do you walk to work? Whether it is ten steps from the parking lot or ten blocks from the train, picking up the elements and then stepping onto tile or wood floors could be dangerous. Make sure you test out your boots before entrusting a day’s worth of steps with them.
A major part of staying comfortable is allowing your feet to breathe and having a way for moisture to escape. We’ve all worn shoes that didn’t provide this, and you can probably recall the pain of your most recent blister quite vividly. Full cushion linings help provide this airflow inside the shoe.
You can also take other steps to boost breathability, like wearing thick socks with your boots to create that cushion for them if it is not built-in. Even with the best socks, though, you can get caught in a sweaty boot if you don’t watch out for this.
The best harness boots are easy on and easy off, meaning they slide or pull over your feet with minimal effort. A pair that has a side zipper or is rather snug on the calf will not provide the same airflow to your feet as those that pull off. If you choose a pair with zippers, be sure to wear socks that cover your ankles that are thick enough to protect your skin from the potentially abrasive metal.
Finish the Look
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search for the perfect pair of harness boots based on quality and basic necessities, it is time to consider the style. While traditionally a motorcycle rider’s boot style, they can add suburban or country flair as well.
For a more equestrian-inspired look, consider riding pants for your bottom. They tuck in easily to any shaft height and will naturally blend for a more streamlined look. Vintage or modern styles can work just the same!
Be aware of bunching when tucking pants into any set of boots. You don’t want them to push your socks down or cause lumps in the boot shaft. This can be rather uncomfortable and certainly takes away from the clean line you’re going for when tucking in.
If you’d rather stick to more of a biker vibe, try skinny jeans that will tuck into the harness boots just as easily to show off the strap and metal ring details. Boot-cut jeans can fall comfortable over the shaft if you’re not interested in the harness itself being shown. This look is very versatile, and depending on how you dress up,.
For a top, try a vest over a plain tee. Or both. There are countless vest styles and patterns, allowing full customization of your outfit to fine-tune the look to your personal tastes. Vintage vests come in so many fun patterns, colors, and materials—you’ll have endless options.
Harness the Power
Overall, harness boots are a great addition to any wardrobe, both for functionality and fashion. Choose your pair wisely so you get the absolute most wear from them, and have a blast styling them to really harness their power for years to come.