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 latchet tie style remained in the women’s wardrobe long after men had changed to buckles. The buckles were often more expensive than the shoes they adorned, and writers of the day frequently commented on the expense.

French fashions still dominated the English court. The red sole and heel, which had previously been seen mostly in France, made its way into the English court in this period.

In the New World, shoe making had become its own industry, though the wealthy still sent to England for most footwear. Shoes manufactured in America were frequently of leather, but the use of silk is mentioned occasionally for women’s shoes.

Blacks and browns remained the predominant colours for men’s footwear during this period. For court, however, white leather was popular, with the red sole and heel becoming more common throughout Europe. Some buff and suede leathers continued to be worn throughout the period.

Women’s shoes were often made of velvet, silks, and satins, and could be embroidered for full dress. Extensive use of appliquéd braids was also popular, producing a striped effect.