Shoes of the 1700s Style 

June 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

  Shoes during the 1700’s have quite a unique history! High heeled shoes were outlawed. The creation of another type of shoe, popular today, was born.   Shoes evolved in many ways during this time leading to the various forms we recognize today!


People of every social status owned and wore shoes. However, the common woman owned maybe one or two pairs of shoes. Members of the upper class, on the other hand, owned many pairs. Some popular shoes of the time were high heels and mules (which were closed toed shoes that didn’t have a back).


Early on in the 1700’s, high heels were banned for common people to use. Louis XIV declared that only the upper class were allowed to wear red colored heels. He also stated that no one was allowed to wear heels higher than his. This continued to be a trend when Napoleon Bonaparte outlawed high heels from being worn in the latter part of the 1700’s. He did this as a means to show equality.


Similar to makeup and corsets, high heels were another ‘form altering’ item that were considered illegal in the Massachusetts Colony. One could even be tried as a witch for wearing them!


The composition of heels changed from the previous period. Heels were now curved and the toe was pointed. The heels worn by the upper class were sometimes encrusted with jewels. Most other shoes were made of leather and had a buckle. The buckle was also sometimes encrusted with jewels. Others were adorned with metal tipped laces. Laces were made of leather, braided fibers or silk ribbons. The price of shoes, during the 1700’s, ranged anywhere from 75 to 85 cents.


Interestingly, shoes were not made for right or left feet like we are accustomed to today! To balance out the wear on the shoes people had to alternate shoes from one foot to another. In the late 1700’s, when Napoleon outlawed heels, the reconstruction of the shoe took place. Shoes were now available with rights and lefts which made them more comfortable. This led to the creation of yet another shoe very popular today… the Oxford.


The Oxford was created because of rebellion to stylish footwear by none other than Oxford University students. These shoes had lowered heels and were very comfortable.


Shoes were made by cordwainers also known as shoemakers. Shoemakers used many tools such as a hammer, awls (small pointed tool used to pierce holes in leather), string and pegs to make shoes. Some of the shoemakers would pay women to sew the uppers. They would then turn around and assign men to attach (peg) these pre-sewn uppers to the soles using a thick leather. The most efficient method of securing soles and heels to the uppers was shoe pegging.


Shoe pegging was the best way to extend the life of shoes making them sturdier. Other ways of accomplishing this was to either nail or stitch. Pegging was more cost effective over sewing. Pegs were made of various wooden sources such as maple, birch or beech. Shoe nails were made of iron.


Shoes have come a long way!! From being outlawed to the improved construction of the shoe. The introduction of new styles of shoes contribute to fashion as we know it today. We now have array of shoe choices to fit our lifestyles! 



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