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In classical dress the Greeks generally wore sandals but the Etruseans of both sexes are frequently depicted in a closed shoe or ankle-shoe, both with slightly upturned toes. Under the Roman and Byzantine Empires shoes were worn as well as sandals. There were several styles; the closed calceus, usually laced at the ankle and worn in the street in towns, was generally reserved for wear by Roman citizens, its colour denoting the rank of the wearer, for instance, senators at first wore black or white but later this was changed to red. The better quality Roman and Byzantine shoes were made in leather or cloth, dyed in various colours and deco- rated with gilt and embroidery. They were shaped to the foot and fastened by laces, or a button. The gallica, from Gaul, had a closed upper and was laced up on top of the foot; the campagus seems to have had a high back and be strapped across the front, with an open instep. The f arbatine shoe of undressed hide was worn by ordinary people; such footwear had no left or right pattern, as had the calceus.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman styles of shoes continued to be worn for many centuries in the Mediterranean areas but northern Europe held to a stronger, more closed shoe, often ankle- length and laced there. Better class shoes were shaped to the foot and were made of leather or fabric in all colours. By the late eleventh century shoes were being made with sole and upper stitched together with thread instead of being thonged and there was more variety in materials from which the shoe was made. Cordovan leather was widely used (see Leather) also coloured silk, damask and velvet with gold and extensive embroidered decoration. Shoes were fas- tened with laces, buttons or buckles and pattens protected delicate designs out-of- doors (see Patten). The pointed-toe shoe was introduced in the late eleventh century and for some time this was cut and shaped into the form of a scorpion's tall or ram's horns. In the twelfth century it settled down to a simple point which lasted for much of the Middle Ages and gave rise to excessive lengths in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (see Poulaine). During the Middle Ages the ankle-shoe was worn, especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, fastened with a buckle or button, but lower cut designs with rolled tops or laced side slits were also worn. Soled hose with pattens replaced shoes for some time in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
The pointed toe ended its long fashion about 1490 and the more comfortable round toe, with welted shoe construction, took its place, to be ousted in the years 1515-20 onwards by the excessively wide toes which, for some years, were square ended or horned. Such shoes, for fashion- able wear, were low cut in front and might be fastened by a strap across the top of the foot. Like other items of clothing at the tinic, shoes were decorated by slashes and embroidery. They were made of leather, velvet or satin in all colours. By 1550 a more natural-shaped elegant shoe fashion had returned, still slashed, jewelled and embroidered. By 1570 a higher, tongued front was usual with latchets tied over it and, in the 1580s, there developed the wedge cork shoes which led to the first signs of a heel being built up at the back by the end of the century.
For the first half of the seventeenth century shoes had tapering square or rounded toes and were decorated by a large ribbon rosette on top of the foot which hid much of the shoe. The heel was now established and grew in height from one inch to two or two and a half inches (see Heco. For men, boots were de rigueur from about 1625-30 until the 1650s (see Boot). After this, with the introduction of petticoat breeches and then thejustaucorps, boots were clearly incongruous and shoes returned to fashion for over 100 years. In the 1650s and 1660s the shoe was open at the sides and was finished on top by a ribbon tie over an upstanding tongue; in the 1670s this tie was replaced by a metal buckle (see Buckle) and both tongue and heel became higher. In the last decade of the century shoes were often cut high, up to or above the ankle, the open sides had disappeared and, for ladies, the pointed toe returned.
During the eighteenth century designs for men's shoes diverged from those for ladies, a differentiation which was to be a permanent one. After about 1720 men's shoes were of leather, usually black, though heels were often still red. The buckle fastening was normal until the 1790s, the size and style varying from small, jewelled buckles in the early years to the large square, plain metal designs of the mid- century. From about 1785 shoes became almost slippers; they were cut lower with short fronts and low heels and were decorated only by a ribbon bow or a small jewelled ornament. Women's shoes were made of many different materials: kid, satin, brocade, velvet. They were richly embroidered and ornamented by gold or silver braid, ribbon ties, lace, ruching and jewelled buckles. They were as elaborate as the gown and in the 1760s and 1770s were visible below the shorter gown skirts of the time. By 1740-5 the heavier English heel began to give way to the slanderer French high styles (see Heel) and these only began to lover after 1775. Toes were pointed and slightly upturned. After the French Revolution heelless slippers, tied on with ribbons, were fashionable.
In the nineteenth century, until about 1840, men wore boots rather then shoes (see Boot), reserving the black pump or slipper for evening and indoor wear. During the middle years of the century boots or shoes were worn under trousers and it was only from the 1860s that shoes became more popular, in Oxford or Derby designs. In general, men's shoes were made of leather though uppers could be partly or wholly of cloth. Until the 1820s ladies continued to wear the heelless pump or slipper, made of kid or silk, fastened by ribbons crossed over the foot and round the ankle. A low heel was reintroduced in the 1830s, though the square toe was retained till nearly the end of the century, when a pointed toe returned with higher heels. Coloured leather was fashionable for these shoes while evening wear was generally in black or bronze kid. For most of the nineteenth century ladies wore boots for out-of-doors or shoes with grey or fawn gaiters on top.
Men's shoes in the first 50 years of the twentieth century were conservative in style, made of leather or su@de with laced- up fronts in Oxford or brogue designs; they had a rounded toe and low, stacked heel. In the 1920s and 1930s, especially in summer, a two-tone shoe was fashionable, usually in white buckskin and dark leather. Since the Second World War, as with the rest of the costume, men's footwear has become more varied. Different materials are used and plastic has become more common as the price of leather has soared. The extremely pointed toes of the 1950s (winkle-pickers) gave place in the 1960s to a more natural style but the 1970s have seen a protracted period of fashion for the high platform soles. At first a vogue for ladies' footwear, the fashion spread to men's and, with the modish flared trouser bottoms, soles and heels have become higher and higher, especially popular with the fashion-conscious young.
With the First World War shorter skirts, women's ankles became visible and shoes were elegant, with long pointed toes and high, slim heels. They were buttoned or laced high or were cut low and had ribbon bow decoration. The 1920s brought very pointed toes, high, curved heels and court styles or strap fastenings. Patent leather, kid or su@de were used, with evening designs of gold or silver, kid, satin or brocade. The 1930s and 1940s saw more comfortable, informal shoes with cuban heels, wedge and platform soles and low- heeled walking brogues. Court and strap shoes with slanderer, higher heels were worn in town. Austerity in the Second World War dictated the use of lower quality leathers, cork and wood soles and heels and, in the 1950s, came synthetic soling materials followed by general use of plastics in the 1960s. Styles and colours became varied. With the 'New Look' dresses, the cuban heels and wedge soles of the war- time fashions gave place to elegant higher heels; ankle-strap and sling-back shoes were fashionable. Then followed the stiletto heels and very pointed toes of the late 1950s, when heels could be four inches high and tips only three-eighths of an inch in diameter - fatal to wood floor surfacing. Contemporaneously were worn flat casual shoes with low-cut fronts and pointed toes. The 1970s have been characterized by the chunky, broad toes and high platform soles. The more extreme versions of this style are patronized generally only by the young but a general clunipiness of design pervades most current designs of footwear.For related articles on other forms of footwear see also Beachwear, Boot, Buckle, Chopine, Clog, Galoshes, Heel, Patten, Poulaine, Sandal, Slipper, Snowshoe. Among the many named varieties of shoe common in Europe and other parts of the world are included:
Ankle-strap - a fashion for children and adults with a button or buckle and strap fastening round the ankle.
Brogue - originally a rawhide shoe worn in the mountains of Scotland and Ireland. In more modern times brogues are flat- heeled, lace-up, leather shoes decorated by perforations, decorative stitching and gimped edging.
Co-respondent - a two-tone shoe made of white buckskin and coloured leather fashionable in the inter-war years.
Court -a shoe without fastening perennially fashionable. So-named because it was originally worn by both sexes at Court.
Derby - a tie-shoe with eyelets and laces, the eyelet tabs stitched on top of the vamp.
Duckbill - a name given to the broad-toed shoes of the first half of the sixteenth century.
Eared (also horned) - names applied to the more extreme square toes of the years 1535-50, when the corners of the toes extended sideways resembling cars or horns.
Espadrille - the traditional rope-soled, canvas shoe, tied round the ankle, worn by Spaniards and the French of the Mediter- ranean and Pyrenean areas. Now very popular as beach and boat wear (see Sandal, alpargata).
Ghillie - the name refers to a type of cross-lacing which passes through loops in the shoe and can extend from the vamp to the ankle. originally a Scottish dancing shoe style but is now also to be seen in fashion shoes.
Monk - the usual name for a plain-fronted shoe fastened by a strap and buckle on the outer side of the instep. Sometimes a fringed leather flap covers this fastening.
Oxford - a traditional, closed, tie-front shoe with the eyelet tabs stitched under the vamp.
Peep-toe - a shoe cut away in front to display part of the toes.
Pump - a court shoe, usually heelless or with fairly low heel.
Sling@back - a shoe with a strap passing round the back of an open heel.
Sneaker - an American term for a canvas shoe with a rubber or rope sole which enables a person to walk silently.
Startup, startop - in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a peasant's ankle- shoe worn over leggings which extended to mid-calf or knee length.
Tabi - a sock-shoe worn with the geta (clog) by the Japanese (see Clog and Japanese dress).
Veldtshoen - from veldt-shoe, originally a South African shoe of untanned hide made so that the edges of the upper were turned outwards to form a flange which was
generally made inside out with upper and sole attached to one another by thonging or thread stitching; the lasting margin of the upper was sewn to a sole composed of only one layer of material so that, when the shoe was turned right side out, the seam was inside as was also the flesh side of the leather. Welted construction was introduced to western Europe around the end of the fifteenth century and is still in use. A welt is a narrow strip of leather sewn to the lasting margin. In welting construction the upper, plus welt, is sewn to the insole, leaving an upstanding rib projecting a short distance from the upper; the sole can then be sewn to this welt.
Shoe-making was a cottage industry for many centuries. The materials were col- lected by the worker from the employer and the work was done by hand at home. In the early nineteenth century the hand- work was carried out more and more in factories, called closing shops, where child labour was widely used. The master crafts- man in charge of such shops was the clicker, a man of great skill and experience who selected and cut up from the complete hides the pieces of leather for making uppers and soles. The early machines designed for stitching the parts of a shoe upper together began to operate in the late 1850s. The introduction of these closing machines was strongly resisted by the handworkers but, by 1870, the machines were being used in considerable numbers and child labour had virtually disappeared. Complete mechanization of shoe-making was slow to come. Manfield of Northampton was, in 1892, one of the first firms to organize the bulk of the processes to be carried out in purposebuilt premises.
The chief parts of a shoe are shown in the diagram. Other common terms include:
Butted seam - where edges of sections of the upper are butted together and sewn.
Channel - stitching holes usually set in a groove. Close seam - where the sections of leather to be seamed are opened out and flattened after stitching.
Closing, - - the stitching together of the sections of the upper.
Clump sole - a half sole added to a shoe as a repair, in contrast to long-soling where the entire sole is repaired.
Horn - a shaped piece of metal or plastic used to case the foot into the shoe. Origin- ally made of polished horn.
Insole - the sole inside the shoe next to the foot.
Lapped seam - where the edges of the two pieces of material to be sewn are overlapped and sewn through.
Latchet - a design which has often been fashionable as a means of shoe fastening. The quarters are extended to straps which can then be tied by strings or ribbons on the instep or fastened there by a buckle. Latchets can overlap or not quite meet one another.
Middle sole - an extra sole placed between insole and sole.
Sock - a lining material stuck to the inside of the insole of the shoe. This can be full length or cover the heel seat only.
Straights - shoes which are symmetrical and can be worn on either foot.
Trees - a form of metal, wood or plastic placed in the shoe when not being worn in order to preserve its shape. Sicilian, Sicilienne A fabric originating in Sicily and generally made of a mixture of mohair and cotton. In the nineteenth century especially it was more often of silk and wool.
| © Ragnar Torfason|
2006 March 28