'Bovver boots' are footwear designed to intimidate and injure, or give the impression of doing so, or even make an ironic
comment on this; the term is British
and dates from the late-60s
, during a time when it was fashionable to be a skinhead
. Alex and his Droogs
from 'A Clockwork Orange
' wore 'bovver boots', the first, skinhead, incarnation of Slade
were bovver-booted, and such boots became even more popular during the punk era
. 'Bovver' is an attempt to capture the cockney
pronounciation of 'bother'.
Bovver boots are typically chunky, made of leather, with steel toecaps. The archetypal manufacturer of such footwear is Doctor Martens (sometimes mis-spelled as 'Doctor Martins'), and such boots are usually referred to as Doc Martens or DMs regardless of who made them. Designed as work boots, DMs are waterproof and resistant to acid; for maximum effect they should extend up the ankle and be adorned with as many lace holes as possible.
Bovver boots are also quite popular amongst gay men, presumably as a way of assimilating and neutralising what was once a weapon used against them. Nowadays, bovver boots are essentially fashion items; their appeal has not dated, and they were quite common amongst Grunge fans a decade or so ago.