Since antiquity, people have protected their feet with the use of footwear. Not only are shoes used to protect, they also make a statement, whether of fashion or status.
During Regency England, those who could afford it had their shoes made by a cobbler. Of course styles changed from round toe to pointy toe with the times. These changes are most evident in women’s slippers, where different fabrics, colored leathers, and fancy embellishments were added for flare.
The most amazing aspect of ladies shoes at this time was how completely unsuitable most styles were for outdoors, which is why boots were often worn when outside or spending time in the country. In inclement weather, ladies often wore pattens. Pattens were a type of overshoe with a wooden soled sandal on the bottom and fastened to the shoe by an iron ring. Women slipped their shoes into the pattens, which then raised their height, so their skirts wouldn’t touch the muddy roads.
Early Regency saw a collection of heeled slippers, but after the French Revolution heels began to disappear, symbolizing that everyone was born equal.
Shoes were made to fit, but they had straight lasts, meaning the shoe would mold to your foot with more wear, and thus create a left and right shoe over time.
The half boot became favorable for outdoors. These flat-soled boots could be worn for various occasions. They were more durable than slippers, but they were often made from goat leather, nankeen, and denim-like fabrics, which tended to absorb water. The lace up half boots were popular, nevertheless, the leather was thin and easily damaged by the elements.
For the most part, men’s shoes during this time consisted of a black leather shoes with a small heel and buckle. Men often wore riding boots, which were available in calf or knee length. Hessians were quite popular with the privileged class.
The poor and labor classes were likely to wear wooden clogs. Some wore thick leather shoes with wooden soles.
A special thank you to englishhistoryauthors.com, Janeaustensworld.com, Jane Austen’s England, by Roy and Lesley Adkins