Shoes through the Regency Era
Do you love shoes? Know their history?
During the 18th century, court shoes were worn by women and men. They were high-heeled and with side pieces that tied or were secured with elaborate buckles.
During the Regency Era, clothing styles became more relaxed and so did shoes.
Heels dropped and by 1800 heels were very small and uppers were cut down.
Regency ladies wore this type of slipper for indoors or for fine weather outdoors, with their full-skirted gowns only allowing the pointed toes to peep out.
Men’s shoes also became low heeled and were nearly always basic black, especially during the Regency Era.
After heels disappeared, pointed toes were replaced with rounded ones and shoes became plainer in design and materials, although a rainbow of colors became popular.
Ladies matched slippers to their gowns, so shoes were sold in color and variety. Pastels were popular.
Some were made of satin, some had simple cross ties, some criss-crossed up the ankles.
Shoes were straight, the right and left being identical and with no curves for insteps or big toes, although the Georgian flaps, or latchets, remained as shoes became more practical for walking. Higher framed shoes that laced, and with a slight heel, made it easier to keep hems out of mud and easier to take longer walks.
Pattens became popular to protect softer shoes.
Much improved from earlier basic shoe protectors.
By mid 19th century, fashionable people were rushing to copy Queen Victoria’s style, including footwear, so boots became the preferred footwear of women and men.
Ankle boots even replaced velvet Prince Albert slippers for formal wear.
The trade name for her favorite boot was Balmoral, or The Bal, a square-toed boot which laced at the front with a darker color used on the toe and ankle than the vamp (upper).
Half-boots were low, lace-up footwear, often made of nankeen which was a hard-wearing yellow cotton fabric. Many other materials were used for half-boots, including black leather.
As women’s hemlines rose to the ankle, Queen Victoria’s flat boots morphed to include side buttons and overlapped edges that obscured the actual closure allowing women to wear the smallest possible size, even if their flesh bulged over the tops of the boots under their skirt.
By the 20th century, shoes were no longer hidden beneath voluminous skirts and layers of petticoats but had become an essential fashion accessory and rather than being almost hidden, shoes and boots are now made to be seen outside of clothing.
If you think you know your shoes, you should take the Fun Quiz at the Bata Shoe Museum.