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.

  • PHM H4448-55, embroidered linen tie shoes, England, c. 1675-1725
  • Lady’s shoe, embroidered silk, Venice, c. 1700
  • Group of leather shoes and overshoes, leather, England, c. 1700
  • Nordiska museet NM.0087047, pink silk shoes with a silver decoration, c. 1700
  • Woman’s shoe, silk satin decorated with silver-gilt braid and embroidery, Britain, c. 1700-1710
  • Shoe (detail), satin trimmed with silk braid, England, c. 1710
  • Welsh Life 40.433.28-29, cream satin and brocaded ribbon, first half of the 18th century
  • Christie’s Lot 3331 / Sale 4981, green and silver silk brocade, first half of the 18th century
  • PHM H4448-92, silk brocade tie shoes, England, c. 1695-1745
  • A shoe, c. 1720
  • Kerry Taylor 7-10-07 Lot 39, “A pair of green silk lady's shoes, circa 1720, with curved toes, red leather heels, white rand, edged in green ribbon”
  • LACMA M.67.8.133a-b, brocaded silk, England, c. 1720s
  • Christie’s Lot 269 / Sale 5422, 1720s-1730s; “green and apricot silk brocade bound in green tape, white kid rands, and with very unusual heels of white silk worked in crewel-style embroidery to shape, high waisted heels and very pointed toes”
  • Pair of shoes embroidered in satin and silk, England, c. 1720-1740
  • V&A E.3403-1932 , an embroidery-pattern for a shoe from Kunst-und Fleiss-übende Nadel-Ergötzungen, 1725
  • Met 2009.300.1482, embroidered silk, Britain, c. 1720-1749
  • DHM J 215, a lady’s shoe, dated 1725
  • Kerry Taylor 7-10-07, Lot 42, “A pair of brocaded silk lady's shoes circa 1730, woven in green pink and blue with large flowerheads, curved, pointed toes, medium height heels, edged in blue ribbon the latchets held in place by paste buckles”
  • Pair of shoes, England, c. 1730; “calamanco upper, lined with linen; edged with wool binding. Wool was both durable and easy to dye in a variety of rich and fashionable colors. Elaborately woven patterns, such as the ones used for this pair of elegant shoes, were the specialty of Norwich in England. Its woven and glazed calamancos were shipped throughout Europe and to the Americas during the 18th century. The owner’s foot expanded (perhaps following a pregnancy) and small vertical inserts were stitched into the instep for comfort by the owner.”
  • Maria Niforos EI-42, ladies' brocade shoes, c. 1730
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1954-1024, silk brocade, England, c. 1730-1740
  • PMA 1974-128-1a,b, wool embroidery on cotton, America or England, c. 1730-1750
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1952-356, silk brocade and damask, England, c. 1730-1750
  • FIT 2003.86.1, silk embroidered on linen, England (?), c. 1740
  • LACMA 42.16.43a-d, wedding shoes in brocaded silk with conch-shell buckles, England, 1740s
  • LACMA M.81.71.1a-b, silk damask, London, c. 1740-1750
  • Women's shoes of figured silk satin, England, c. 1740s-1750s
  • Plas Newydd 1984.2 (silk with metal thread embroidery?)
  • LACMA M.82.26.4a-b, Morrocan leather and boarded leather and goatskin, England, 1740s-1750s
  • LACMA M.80.70.2a-b, silk damask, probably England, c. 1750-1760
  • LACMA M.89.144a-b, brocaded silk, London, 1756
  • MoL, London, 1760; “The upper part of the shoes and heels are covered in blue green satin, decorated with silver lace around the upper edges, straps, tongue and heel. A label inside each shoe is inscribed, 'Fras Poole/Woman's Shoemaker/in the Old Change, near Cheapside/London'. Each inscribed in ink inside quarter, 'Miss Ellis Blue/Satten'.”
  • Nordiska museet NM.0080899, a bride’s shoes, black velvet, 1760
  • LACMA M.81.71.4a-b, brocaded silk, England, c. 1760
  • LACMA M.81.71.2a-b, silk satin, England, c. 1760-1765
  • Met 1976.96.1, silk, Britain, 1760s
  • A pair of woman’s shoes, c. 1765, in Fitting & Proper: “tan wool damask in a gemoetric pattern, lined with coarse white linen, bound with tan wool tape, with brown leather soles and white kid welts”
  • LACMA M.59.24.26a-b, brocaded silk, England, c. 1765-1770
  • SPNEA 1949.130AB, brocade, Boston, 1765-1775
  • Augusta 4.974.218.221, two pair ladies’ blue silk shoes, 1760-1770; “Both blue satin, 3" narrow Italian heels, pointed tongues, cross-over latchets, blue silk binding tape & homespun natural linen linings: 1 pair w/ oval toes … 1 pair c. 1770 w/ slight point to toe, kidskin toe box below silk”
  • Augusta 13.2170.1090.519, woman’s everyday shoes, c. 1770; “Black leather, leather covered Italian heels, brass shoe buckles”
  • Historic New England 1919.140AB, brocade, London, c. 1770
  • Augusta 1.109.206.109, embroidered silk ladies shoes, c. 1770; “Ivory silk faille w/ silk floss floral embroidery on vamp & back of heel, latchets w/ original steel buckles, low Louis heel”
  • LACMA M.67.8.126a-b, brocaded silk, Holland or Italy, c. 1770
  • LACMA 63.24.7a-b, silk brocade, probably Italy, 1770s
  • Augusta 4.760.81.220, embroidered satin shoes, 1770-1780; “Cream silk w/ chinese embroidery on vamps, green silk binding tape, cross-over lachets, rounded pointed toes, rounded tongue point, Italian heels”
  • Pair of women’s shoes, c. 1770-1780, in Fitting & Proper; “black silk satin, lined with off-white linen, bound with black silk grosgrain ribbon, brown leather soles”
  • Augusta 4.975.219.222, lady’s brocade shoes, 1770-1780s; “cream silk w/ delicate meandering floral brocade, white leather Italian 3" heels, straight tongue, cross-over latchets, salmon leather lining”
  • LACMA 46.72.8a-b, brocaded silk taffeta, America, c. 1772
  • Nordiska museet NM.0002680A-B, boots made in 1773 and worn by Karin Petters in Sweden
  • LACMA M.59.24.27a-b, silk with warp and weft float pattern, probably France, 1775
  • PHM H4448-8, dark green sprigged silk, England, c. 1775-1780
  • LACMA M.67.8.129a-b, silk damask, London, c. 1775-1785
  • Meg Andrews 7064, bronze-colored silk grosgrain embroidered with silk carnations on the toe, c. 1775-1785
  • Vintage Textile 1891, silk damask, c. 1770-1785
  • LACMA M.81.71.3a-b, silk plain weave with weft-float patterning (three different fabrics), c. 1780-1785
  • Met 1989.321a, b, c. 1780-1799
  • Nordiska museet NM.0021163A-B, leather shoes laced with a leather thong, made c. 1780-1800 and worn in Sweden
  • Christie’s Lot 3299, Sale 4981, “a pair of delicate black spotted silk shoes, lined in white kid,” 1780s
  • LACMA 61.27.1a-b, silk damask, America or England, 1782-1783
  • LACMA M.83.81.2a-b, silk satin with sequins and metallic-thread embroidery, England, c. 1785
  • Met C.I.46.39a, b, wedding slippers, London, 1786
  • Rosgartenmuseum, a lady’s shoe, c. 1790
  • LACMA 16.20.3a-b, silk satin, England, c. 1790-1795
  • Met 2009.300.1484a, b, leather, Britain, c. 1790-1805
  • LACMA M.67.8.131a-b, a pair of woman's slippers in kid leather with linen, England, c. 1795-1810
  • LACMA M.67.8.132a-b, slippers, painted leather with silk ribbon, England, c. 1800

Slippers & mules

Pattens, clogs, and overshoes

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

  • Fitting & Proper has a pair of pattens, c. 1700-1800, “wooden soles riveted to wrought iron platforms with straps of brown leather lined with off-white wool”
  • 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