The History Behind Double-Buckle Combat Boots

When you think ‘combat boots’, what comes to mind? Your favorite Doc Martens, punk rock, or your grunge phase? Modern service boots? Something entirely different? Like camo patterns and army jackets, combat boots started out as a utilitarian necessity in the armed services that ended up influencing fashion trends in many ways over many decades. The relationship between the military and fashion is a long and close one, and combat boots are one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable icons of military-inspired fashion.

Our newly re-vamped Rosie Boots are a historical reproduction of a specific type of combat boot that was used both in service and in civilian life. In fact, the original pair we based Rosie on that we have in our studio (sent to us by a lovely follower) were actually originally civilian boots, most likely ordered from a catalogue (more on that later).

These are our original double-buckle boots, the reference we used for Rosie.

Service boots for military members have to be functional over fashionable (obviously). For example, in World War 1, the boots that soldiers wore became more consistently the same from army to army. United States soliders started the war wearing ‘russet marching shoes’, a machine-stitched leather boot that was hardy, but not ideal for the terrain. In response to the russet marching shoes’ shortcomings, the later years of the war saw a specific design called the ‘trench boot’ be invented and utilized in an effort to combat terrain challenges, as well as foot health issues in the trenches. Trench boots featured hobnails and metal plating on the sole, but as they lacked waterproofing, they failed to protect the foot properly. These trench boots were the predecessor of true combat boots, which would come about in the next World War.

WW1 tall trench boots

In the earlier stages of World War 2, US soldiers were usually wearing a low-quarter leather combat boot that necessitated gaiters or a canvas legging over the top of the boot to extend the height of the boot and protect the legs. Leggings or gaiters also helped to mitigate the cost of outfitting soliders, as they were less expensive than mass producing tall leather boots. You can imagine that constantly having to go through the extra steps of putting on and taking off these extra pieces really started to be a nuisance after awhile. In 1943, the solution was born in the form of a double-buckle boot, the M-1943.

M-1943 combat boots

M-1943 boots featured a rough-out leather boot with a smooth leather top, complete with double buckles that strapped around the ankle and protected the leg. The double-buckle feature helped to accomplish the same function as gaiters and leggings without the extra pieces and extra steps, and without needing to use the extra leather required to make taller boots.

In the final two years of WWII, the M-1943 double-buckle boots were standard issue for US servicemen, and were worn by all branches of the military. They were a big hit with servicemen! They were relatively easy to put on and take off as well as sufficiently protective.

Original M-43 combat boots, missing their laces.

Like with women’s service shoes, double-buckle boots could be purchased from civilian retailers. The original pair of boots that we used for Rosie was most likely purchased through a catalogue advertisement for civilians, as it is in a boy’s size.

Example of mail-order combat boots from the Sears-Roebuck catalogue, c. 1945-1949.
Another advertisement for combat-style boots for civilians.

Of course, the name ‘Rosie’ is in tribute to all of the “Rosie the Riveters“; the women who stepped in to work traditionally ‘masculine’ jobs to contribute to the war effort during World War II. Workwear fashion for these ladies is a huge and interesting topic on it’s own! Women working in factory, technical and manufacturing jobs during the war wore different types of shoes depending on their jobs. For example, women who worked building airplanes often wore softer leather or fabric loafers, which wouldn’t scuff up an in-progress fuselage. Other women needed work boots. Most of these work boots were actually men’s boots, because there were so few options available to women at the time. A woman who needed work boots for her factory job could have ordered them from one of the catalogue options shown above.

Safety, but make it ~*~ feminine ~*~
This lady is actually not a ‘Rosie’, but a servicemember herself. This famous photograph shows Lt. Jane I. Sunderbruch of the Army Nurse Corps briefly reuniting with her husband, Lt. Richard K. Sunderbruch, before they returned to their respective units. Notice both Lts. Sunderbach are wearing work boots, Jane’s with double buckes!
No visible double buckle boots here, but we just had to share this photo! These MAETS are showing off the worn soles of their shoes and boots after a very long trek.

Our Rosie Double-Buckle Boots are made in heavy, durable cowhide, half-lined in textile, with a built-up, round toe and very relaxed fit. They lace-up through sturdy metal eyelets and close with an adjustable buckle flap for ankle and lower-leg protection. We’ve also added rubber soles with a heavy tread, making the new Rosie boots a great choice for all weather, all terrains, and all seasons.

Rosie comes in three beautiful colorways as well; russet and black are made from all smooth-leather, and tan Rosies have rough-out suede uppers with smooth leather buckles and tops.

Rosie Double Buckle Boots are available for $20/€20 off a pair through September 30 as part of our Harvest Collection pre-order!

Pre-Order Is Open
September 16 – 30, 2022
$20/€20 discount per pair
Europe & UK –

One Comment

  • Carmen

    July 4, 2023 at 6:55 PM

    I checked y’all’s website and saw that you no longer have the boots in ‘russet’. Would y’all happen to plan a restock for them or did they happen to be discontinued? Thank you!

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