18th Century Women’s Shoes

The Annals of Philadelphia describes women’s footwear:

It is deserving of remark, that no females formerly showed any signs of crumpled toes or corns. They were exempted from such deformities and ills, from two causes, to wit: their shoes were of pliable woven stuff, satin, lastings, &c., and by wearing high heels, they so pressed upon the balls of their feet, as necessarily to give the flattest and easiest expansion to their toes; while, in walking, at the same time, they were prevented from any undue spread in width, by their piked form. There was therefore, some good sense in the choice of those high heels, now deemed so unfitting for pretty feet, that has been overlooked. In a word, ladies could then pinch their feet with impunity, and had no shoes to run down at the heels.

Materials noted in the following links refer to what covers (at least the upper) of the shoe.

Slippers & mules

Pattens, clogs, and overshoes

The Annals of Philadelphia recalls that “in the miry times of winter [women] wore clogs, galoshes, or pattens.”

  • Group of leather shoes and overshoes, England, c. 1700
  • A broken piece of a patten found in an old stone house in England
  • Met 2009.300.1485a, b
  • Met 2009.300.1640a, b, America
  • DHM (the lower two examples; the upper one is medieval)
  • MoL, c. 1711-1720; “Woman or girl’s patten with wooden sole and two black leather straps with holes for ties across the feet. This patten has an undulating curved metal ring under the sole to raise the patten above ground. The toe is pointed and reinforced with metal from the patten ring. This patten has no heel but has a heel socket which measures 2.8 cm. It has a straight sole so it could be worn outdoors. The leather straps are nailed on with three nails and are reinforced. There is a wavy iron ring nailed on at the forepart and two nails at the heel.”
  • RISD 09.840, shoes with matching clogs, England or France, c. 1740-1749; “With their rounded toes, stout English heels, and lining of coarse linen canvas, these elegant silk-brocade shoes and matching clogs are typical of the 1740s. They fastened at the front with a decorative buckle that was removed, like any other piece of jewelry, when not in use. Such ornamentation was usual on shoes until the time of the French Revolution (1789), when it was abandoned as inappropriately ostentatious. The matching clogs functioned as an overshoe to protect a lady’s feet when she descended into the filthy streets from her carriage. They fastened over the shoes by means of ribbon ties inserted through holes in the front flaps.”
  • LACMA 52.51, a woman’s clog in brocaded silk, England, c. 1750
  • Manchester 1922.1795, c. 1750-1790; “Black leather with oval iron stands, pink silk ribbon bows, pointed toes.”
  • PHM H4448-4 and PHM H4448-5, pair of clog overshoes, silk brocade and leather and wool, England, 1760-1770; “Womens pair of clog overshoes, straights, of channel stitch construction with oval toe and single lift heel. Heel socket is made for a woman's shoe with low broad heel. Uppers consist of square ended latchets, green bound with white silk sides and lined with white felted wool. Insole is polished black leather covering the wooden wedge at the waist and sole is brown leather.”
  • Pair of pattens, England, c. 1770-1799
  • Manchester 1949.131, 1780-1800
  • SONS 2739, Connecticut, late 18th century
  • Pattens, Britain, c. 1780-1820