Since people first started wearing footwear, special designs have been developed for specific purposes, especially work-related purposes. For instance, Roman soldiers wore sandals or boots designed for long marches and bloody battles, blacksmiths wore heavy shoes to protect themselves from falling objects and heat and farmers and fishermen wore long boots to keep their trousers clean and dry. Nowadays we have a range of speciality work shoes and boots, including combat boots, construction boots, waders and wellies, as well as sports shoes for riding, skiing, skating and mountain climbing.
Combat boots, obviously are designed for unique military purposes. These boots are designed to withstand a number of adverse climate conditions (from extreme cold to extreme heat and extreme wet), and to provide a measure of stability, protection and grip. It is to this end that different styles have been developed, such as jungle boots and desert boots, as well as tanker and jump boots.
Wellington boots are more commonly known as wellies or gumboots and were first worn by Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington in the early 19th century. Wellesley wanted boots that were suitable for battle, but that were also comfortable enough to be worn while relaxing in the evenings. They caught on as fashion items are were particularly popular among British dandies in the 1840s. After a couple of world wars they became popular as cheap, functional items of footwear for men, women and children. These days, wellies are most often used by anglers, farmers, hunters and miners, who refer to them as gumboots. Gumboot dancing is a popular form of dance among South African miners, while Welly boot dancing is a similar form of dance among British miners, who dance to keep their spirits up. Fashion designers have also adopted the humble welly and have turned the rather basic functional item into a sometime desirable fashion piece.
Steel-toe or cap boots are an essential part of construction work and are even regulated by certain occupation safety and health boards. The boots are typified by steel caps across the toe area and are often reinforced with a steel plate within the sole for protection above and below. Rigger boots are named for the trade in which they were originally used, although nowadays they are used by most manual labour trades and serve as a general purpose work boot. They also have steel-toe caps for added safety and have found favour among certain groups as fashion items, namely Goths, punks and metalheads.
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