The XX Factor

Do You Have Questions About Rihanna’s New Bootpants? We Have Answers!

When Rihanna says “boots,” we ask “how high?”

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

It’s almost spring—and in the world of sexy people who regulate what kind of perfume their employees wear and require private dance floors on demand, that means assless chaps season!

In the March issue of British Vogue, Rihanna debuts her new Manolo Blahnik collab, a collection of denim footwear whose coverage options range from a tasteful strappy stiletto to a bravura pair of heels attached to chaps—we’ll call them bootpants—that look fit to prance straight from the dairy farm to the below-ground office of the person Rihanna pays just to clean every crevice of her soles with a miniature Q-tip.

Racked and Riri describe these puppies as “thigh-high,” but that common boot descriptor neglects a full foot or so of bootpant: They pass the thighbrows, narrow through the hips, and taper into two bejeweled flaps that can attach to a belt that buckles at the waist. Manolo Blahnik is calling them the “9 to 5” boots, an apparent nod to Dolly Parton’s studied performance of all-American flash and trash, though the designer’s curiously low-res Instagram rendering gives them the shabby aura of a sexy cowgirl costume.

Savvy consumers might wonder: If a boot is attached to a pant, how might one launder them? If you’re Rihanna, you might just keep a few backup pairs in one of your swim-up closets in case a stubborn stain resists the efforts of your boot-cleaner’s Q-tip. If you’re one of those raw-denim believers, you might pop them in your freezer, which will do exactly nothing. Everyone else should spot clean as necessary.

The appeal of the bootpant is threefold. With bootpants, matching boots to pants is a quandary of the past. Sex appeal is inevitable. And, as with stirrup pants, bootpants solve the boot-related problem of pants that don’t stay properly tucked into boots or bunch at the knee where the boots end.

But the bootpant-curious should beware of one critical pitfall—namely, the hazards of situations that entail shoe removal. These boots were not made for the TSA line, nor a visit to any country where shoes are not worn in people’s houses. Within their crystal frontiers, these bootpants comprise the makings of an actual nightmare I’ve had, wherein I absentmindedly go through the motions of taking off my shoes in a grocery store, and only realize a minute later that I have also taken off my pants.

Unlike traditional bootpants, which Marie Claire once called bants, Rihanna’s chaps-like version bares the area normally covered by undergarments, which creates both constraints and opportunities. They’re certainly more breathable than their full-coverage counterparts, but they leave few practicable options for what to wear underneath. Pants would create unnecessary bulk. Shorts would ride up and out of the upper hem. The only appropriate alternative would be impeccable underwear and a twirly miniskirt, or a bodysuit, in which case you’re stuck wearing the equivalent of a bathing suit in public—not a problem for Riri, but a tough sell for most anyone else.

Alas, at the end of a long day of horseback riding/strutting ’round the clüb, any pair of bootpants must come off, and here’s where a potential weakness of Rihanna’s “9-to-5” shoes becomes a strength. Conventional bootpants can be pulled down just like regular pants; in Rihanna’s bootpants, using the restroom becomes an elaborate undertaking, especially if you’ve gone the bodysuit route. On the other hand, an impromptu striptease would be a stately, intricate affair in two-part denim bootchaps, as opposed to the undignified shimmy required to get out of full-coverage leather bootpants. When a pair of chaps bears the name of pop music’s most compelling sex symbol, they deserve nothing less.