A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  ShortcutsShortcuts  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 A trend in footwear

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
FrederickLouis
Aediles


Posts : 71
Join date : 2016-12-13

PostSubject: A trend in footwear   Sat 07 Jan 2017, 22:14

Have you ever misplaced the right shoe on the left foot? Have you ever misplaced the left shoe on the right foot?   
King George IV of Great Britain started a trend in footwear. His boots were different from the other gentlemen. He had a right boot and a left boot. Until that time, all shoes or boots were made to be worn on either foot.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ


Posts : 5383
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Sat 07 Jan 2017, 23:39

I've heard this many times before (though who gets the the credit for ordering "left" and "right" shoes for the first time changes with each rendition). It is of course total nonsense.

Left and right shoe shapes were available prior to the Regency period, and had been for millennia - one only has to look at well preserved leather footwear from Egyptian, Roman, Viking, Saxon, Native American, Chinese and numerous other cultures to see that this was so.

What seems to have caused this urban myth to develop in recent times is a very modern confusion about who wore shoes, why, when and how often, how they were made, and (crucially) in what quantity they were required to be made in any given circumstance. And of course that which distinguishes a generic "shoe" from footwear specifically designed to protect the foot in particular ways, for example allowing it to tread on otherwise difficult or even injurious terrain, or to support arches and tendons placed under stresses greater than those imposed by basic walking.

Shoes required to cover long distances and made well enough to withstand wear and tear over a long time were made by specialists within the community, their crucial skills being leather working and wood carving, and their crucial piece of equipment being the last. History shows that nearly all communities who identified a need for shoes had these specialists, the cobblers, and that these cobblers made pairs of shoes shaped to accommodate left and right bias when required throughout history. This ability applied to leather footwear, wooden footwear, and even on occasion to metal footwear (though one must assume armourers simply shaped plate around lasts designed and created for them by cobblers anyway).

Roman footwear exemplifies it well. This accommodation of bias was relaxed or even ignored if vast quantities were required to be made, and Roman military boots, "caligæ", are good examples of when this occurred, though not uniformly throughout Roman history, which suggests that different rules applied depending on who was paying for the order and in what circumstances. Also what might be called "house shoes", "socci", or "short distance shoes", "baccæ", seem to have been churned out as single shape for both feet in the majority of cases as standard. However posh versions of both these styles were indeed shaped for left and right too.

The advantage for the cobbler of producing large numbers of standard-shaped cut-price product was that he required only one last per shoe size and one pattern. The advantage for the customer, and especially the cost-conscious customer, was that the loss or falling apart of one shoe meant easy replacement - a new pair did not need to be purchased. Also their use could be alternated between each foot so that any specific wear caused by an imperfect gait on one side or the other could be eked out over a longer time before anything needed replacing. However for those who could afford to replace entire pairs at a time, or those for whom well fitted shoes were a necessity, the cobblers produced left and right pairs. One style of shoe in particular from Roman times, the "pero", seems always to have left and right bias accommodated in their design. These were in fact used by agricultural labourers, a good example of where necessity was the key factor and price secondary.

An exception occurred with the development of the heel, a device which followed closely after the adoption of the stirrup, and early heeled boots were indeed standardly shaped with little or no left and right bias. This makes sense of course for footwear in which the principal application is not perambulation anyway, but simply gripping the stirrup. However when the heel also started appearing on walking shoes and boots then they also started turning up as left and right shaped footwear too.

This pattern seems to have continued right up until the early industrial revolution in Europe, at which time the emphasis switched to standardisation of machine-cut shoes made on machine-moulded lasts and therefore a preponderance of uniform shape arose again (though hand-made shoes still accommodated left and right feet). This coincided with a huge increase in demand for affordable shoes, which is probably why the idea that shoes had "always" been of standard shape became widely believed.

This state of affairs was not for long however. Soon refinements in industrial manufacture of shoes enabled manufacturers to better imitate hand-made product and the bias immediately returned - a factory in Philadelphia of all places being the first we know of to declare as much in their advertisements concerning their entire product range.

So when you say "until that time, all shoes or boots were made to be worn on either foot" what you should really be saying is that this was when the lower and lower middle classes could first afford footwear paid for from their own incomes which emulated hand-made product. Whether an aristocrat like George IV chose first to use standard shaped footwear and then opted for left and right is actually immaterial. He may have set fashions in his choices, and his change in taste might well have sparked some extra demand, but the truth is that those who needed left and right shoes could always get them beforehand, admittedly at a price, and that what happened around the time of his reign was a coincidental improvement in the industrial process whereby many more people could now also get them at affordable prices.
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura


Posts : 1342
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Sun 08 Jan 2017, 21:01

And what about the clogs, the footwear of the common man. The brother of a friend of ours, was still clog maker when he was young and that has to have been in the nineteen forties.
https://www.klompenmuseum.nl/pdf/woodenshoes.pdf
And about the making:



Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ


Posts : 5383
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Sun 08 Jan 2017, 21:31

Clogs were common throughout Britain, France and the lowlands, and though the cheapest and most common versions were made only of wood some - like this very well preserved 17th century pair of girl's clogs also from the Netherlands - combined this material with leather uppers.



There was also a very up-market version of the same technology used by town dwellers, especially ladies, to keep their clothes clear of mud and shit in the streets in wet weather and which could be fitted to go over more dainty footwear or worn instead of them with thick woollen socks keeping them tight on the foot. The pattens pictured below are late medieval.



Note the left and right bias included in the design of both, long before George IV, and pointless if they are protecting shoes or boots not also accommodating that bias.

Here, courtesy of the Two Nerdy History Girls blog, is a lovely example of 18th century posh pattens. These were designed to match the design and fabric of the shoes they protected, and note they too also have a left and right in the pair:

Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
FrederickLouis
Aediles


Posts : 71
Join date : 2016-12-13

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Mon 09 Jan 2017, 02:45

Here are visual examples of various styles of shoes.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ


Posts : 5383
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Mon 09 Jan 2017, 08:23

A whole thesis in two minutes! Lovely Smile Smile

I love the rock sandals - very Spinal Tap.
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
ferval
Censura


Posts : 2353
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Mon 09 Jan 2017, 10:38

The advantage for the cobbler of producing large numbers of standard-shaped cut-price product was that he required only one last per shoe size and one pattern.

I'm confused as to why making left and right fitting shoes should require more than one pattern, as anyone who has done any sewing knows, all you do to change the handedness of a pattern is  - turn it over.


Are socks footwear? I heard these mentioned this morning on Diarmaid MacCulloch's Book of the Week.





Careful though, cosy toes may be the work of the devil.


Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ


Posts : 5383
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Mon 09 Jan 2017, 23:12

@ferval wrote:
as anyone who has done any sewing knows, all you do to change the handedness of a pattern is  - turn it over

Fair point, ferval, which goes to show why JSTORians should not talk cobblers, they end up talking cobblers.

Or could it be that a proper left and right cut in shoemaking is not actually a strict reverse of the other? In other words, are upper class cobblers (the guys doing the uppers) inclined to ask not only their male clients on which side they dress? They'd be right to ask me in any case - if I don't concentrate hard on my ambulatory target I could well end up describing a circle as I go.

I hasten to add that this is due to a slight disparity in size between the two pedal extremities of my person, not the other yokiebobs.
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
ferval
Censura


Posts : 2353
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 09:47

Of course at the highest level one's bootmaker will have hand crafted lasts for each foot stored away, just as one's tailor has one's measurements and the arrangement of one's accoutrements on file, but I'm still not convinced that anything other than the crudest wooden clog was made in a one-shape-fits-either-foot fashion any more than they were made as one-size-fits-all.




To be fair to JSTOR though, being able to replace just the damaged one of a pair would be convenient as you would be able to confidently stick your foot into any shoe in the dark in much the same way as buying only identical black socks saves possible social embarrassment and precludes the inconvenience of having a drawer full of odd socks.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura


Posts : 2546
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 10:52

The point about so-called straight shoes is that they were made on a straight last with no differentiation between left and right as-made. Such shoes were indeed very common until well into the nineteenth century especially for cheap, mass-produced shoes. The shoes were made straight but they had to be broken in by the wearer and so they soon acquired a pronounced left or right shape. They were often made relatively wide compared to modern shoes and so I believe they were sometimes modified to a left or right fit by fixing a shaped leather pad against the instep. Such one-shape-fits-all shoes were mass produced for the British army but they were notoriously uncomfortable, at least until they'd been worn in by hours of marching up and down the parade ground.

These are straight shoes from about 1850.




and these from about 1815 (L) and 1840 (R)  ... even fancy shoes might be made as straights:

   


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 10 Jan 2017, 18:08; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ


Posts : 5383
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 11:43

They're still not that uncommon around the world. I saw a shoe shop once in Shanghai which sold nothing else. Haven't they heard of George IV in China????
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
ferval
Censura


Posts : 2353
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 13:56

I stand corrected - I can do no other.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis


Posts : 610
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 16:26

I commented on another thread, Ferval, that I had by hazard gone on to some bonkers YouTube videos which were talking about the "Illuminati". Very silly of me I know, and thre are many other calls upon my time besides surfing the internet like there's lots of housework I've got to do though I'll admit I'm not the world's best housekeeper at the best of times. I agree in one respect with what they were saying that Joe or Josephine Public doesn't really have a say in how things play out in the great scheme of thinigs but although I am not that great a fan of the Royal Family they lost me at the assertation that Queenie is a reptile person in disguise!  Socks are the devil's work - how daft- hark though, the reptiles might need something to keep them warm - but socks can only keep in heat for warm blooded creatures I would imagine - there's got to be some bodily warmth to retain.  You have given sincerely thine a laugh today though.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura


Posts : 2546
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 17:50

I'll see your pattens and raise you some chopines ....

Supposedly originating in the Ottoman seraglio, chopines were fashionable in the 15th and 16th centuries especially in Spain and Italy:

 

... but the fashion reach its height (literally) at the beginning of the 17th century in Venice:



Oh those decadent Venetans!
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura


Posts : 2353
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 18:20

Decadent - yes, but very useful for acqua alta.

Back to top Go down
Vizzer
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis


Posts : 713
Join date : 2012-05-12

PostSubject: Re: A trend in footwear   Tue 10 Jan 2017, 22:52

@nordmann wrote:
Clogs were common throughout Britain, France and the lowlands, and though the cheapest and most common versions were made only of wood ... There was also a very up-market version of the same technology used by town dwellers, especially ladies, to keep their clothes clear of mud and shit in the streets in wet weather and which could be fitted to go over more dainty footwear or worn instead of them with thick woollen socks keeping them tight on the foot.

Let's not forget that the common, all-wood versions were used not just to keep the mud, shit and wet off people's clothes but also to keep the mud, shit and wet outside. Clogs were invariably slipped off when entering any house of whatever class. This separation between outdoor and indoor footwear has disgracefully been lost in many UK households over that last 100 years. Mrs Vizzer, however, rightly observes custom in this. All guests and visitors are offered a clean pair of machine-washable slippers, flip-flops or house-shoes in the front hall depending on the season:



Interestingly, no-one has ever refused. In fact people (of all backgrounds) seem to readily slip off their own outdoor footwear as second nature and often with relief. Family, friends and frequent visitors know that if invited for a soiree or similar, then dress shoes are permitted indoors provided the wearer has travelled in others and changes into them on arrival. We also have clogs and wellington boots by the back door which serve a similar purpose for any trips to an outbuilding etc. A similar convention still thrives in Germany and Austria and some other continental and Scandinavian countries as far as I'm aware.

In the Far East (and particularly in Japan) the separation of outdoor and indoor footwear is also still widespread with flip-flops and slippers routinely used. The geta footwear combines elements of a clog and a flip-flop in one:



The modern versions tend to have 2 teeth (as above) while traditionally they often featured only 1 tooth:



The 1 tooth variant seems to have had more to do with status rather than practicality with samurai and geisha etc priding themselves (and wowing others) with their poise and balance.
Back to top Go down
 

A trend in footwear

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of things ... :: Technology and human invention-