Manufacture and Materials

Footwear during this period changed more quickly than has been seen in any period before. Toe and heel shapes varied from decade to decade in both men’s and women’s shoes.

Though this was a period of war in many places, the unrest was not as severe as is had been prior to this time. This caused the demise of boots for everything but riding and military use.


The fashions of the period blended perfectly with the elegant furnishings of the period. The weight and grandeur, which had dominated the reign of Louis XIV, gave way to a smaller, more natural human figure with looser lines. The wigs of both men and women were now powdered white, lightening the whole appearance of the figure.


The reign of Louis XV in France was a period of relaxation after the heavy autocratic rule of Louis XIV. By 1730, the light, elegant, feminine tastes of the Rococo era were fully established.

The English royal family switched from the Stuarts to the Hanovers with the coronation of George I. The Stuart pretenders led many great yet unsuccessful revolts against the German born king.


Boots were worn primarily for riding in this period. The leg of the boot began to straighten in the 1660’s, with the whole boot being made of stronger leather with a high wax finish. The top was no longer flopped down but was worn at thigh length. The toes were fairly wide and square. During the reign of George I in England, the domed toe replaced the square one.

Softer leg boots appeared on the continent. They were made of suede leather, reached the thigh, and were usually fastened with lacings up the centre front or buttoned down the side.

Women's Shoes

Up until the 1680’s one can see examples of square toes on women’s shoes. When the men’s toes began to change from a point to a block shape, women’s shoe shapes began to diverge from men’s. Some continued to wear the blocked toe, but most decided that the point was more elegant.

Men's Shoes

When Charles II came out of his exile in France, he brought the fashion of shoes with long square toes. By 1676, these square toes began to be blocked, giving the toe a curved, classical shape.

Materials and Manufacture

For the first time women’s toe shapes began to deviate from men’s. In the 1660’s buckles emerged, and were treated as jewellery, transferable from one shoe to another. Women’s shoes were not seen underneath their long skirts, so they did not wear an attractive buckle. The


When one thinks of this period, it is easy to see only the rich use of bows, ribbons, and embroidered decoration, missing the careful structure that lies beneath. This period, however, marks a change from the flamboyance of the previous years, to a more structured, classical Baroque. This can be seen while examining the cut of clothing, rather than the superficial decoration.

The English costumes of this time, though based on the French, were far less structured with a softer appearance.


When Charles II returned to England in 1660, and Louis XIV in 1661 began his personal rule in France, the centre of culture in Europe began to shift from Rome to Paris. Baroque art began to move into a phase now known as classic Baroque.


As is usual in times of war and unrest, boots dominated the footwear worn by men in this period. There is very little evidence, however, that boots were favoured by women.

Thigh boots, which had been popular during Elizabeth’s reign, continued in this period for riding and hunting. These boots were soft, close fitting, and turned down at the knee. They fitted closely to the leg, with wrinkling at the ankles.