SHOES AND BOOTS                           Back to Justin Boots

  From prehistoric times, man has needed to cover his feet, to protect him from rough ground, stones, insects, etc. when he walks. The first known images of footwear are boots depicted in 15,000 year old wall paintings in caves in Spain.

The earliest footwear which has been found by archeologists, has been from Egypt. Workers building the pyramids left their sandals behind and these were preserved in the dry sand till now. Here is a pair from 2,000 B.C.

Ancient man was naked and barefoot. He ran over the ground chasing animals for food. Almost certainly he cut his feet on sharp rocks or prickly undergrowth. This would slow him down and also be very painful. As man evolved into a thinking human, he would think about how he could protect his feet, as it was most important that they should be in good condition to enable him to run and hunt.

Seeing the skins of animals lying around, he probably cut off a paw, scraped out the bone and flesh inside and put his own foot into it. He might have tied it on with a length of strong vine, so it would not fall off.

One of the first inventions of man was string. This does not sound like a very exciting invention, but it actually was tremendous. When men learned how to take plant fibres and twist them together to make string, he could use that string to make bags to carry things, to make nets, to make belts to hold animal skins onto his body, and footwear onto his feet, and so on.

The oldest shoe found in the world, is the Oregon Sandal, which is about 10,000 years old. It is shown here. It is made of string tied around a sole underneath the foot.

stick people

Footwear was worn even earlier than this, as Cave paintings in Spain tell us. These pictures date from about 15,000 BC and show a man in boots of skin and a woman in boots of fur.

In Ancient Egypt, sandals made of palm leaves plaited together, with thongs at the ankle and toes,

Footwear can be divided into 3 groups, as shown hereunder, Sandals, Shoes and Boots.

....... Sandals..................Shoes.......................Boots............

Throughout the approximately 8,000 years of recorded history, man has made a tremendous number of different shapes of footwear.

The record for the length goes to the Poulaine of the middle ages, which reached two feet long. The long toe was such a problem to wear, and people kept falling on their face, so a small chain was fixed to the toe which attached to the front of the leg, to keep the toe off the ground. Here is a Poulaine on a support to keep the mud off, called a Patten.

The record for height, must go to the Chopine of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, which went up to 30 inches high. Ladies had to have two maids to hold on each arm, otherwise they would fall down when wearing Chopines. In 16th century England, if a bride falsified her height by wearing Chopines, her husband was entitled to an annulment.

In the 17th century, the Cavaliers wore a high boot decorated with lace, called an "Elephant's Ear" boot because the top fold-over leather was wide and flappy and looked like . well an Elephant's Ear.

Before the French Revolution, French gentlemen wore very decorative high-heeled shoes (the heel was called a Louis after the King and still is) with buckles and jewels and embroidery. This proved to be a mistake once the Revolution started. One aristocrat lost his head solely because he had diamonds on the buckles of his shoes.

The Victorians felt that the sight of a women's naked foot was much too erotic, and so the tightly laced high boot was compulsory.

In the 20th century, one of the longest boots was that made by Yves St. Laurent in 1963. It was made of crocodile skin, and is shown here.

Another famous 60's boot was the Go-Go boot of Andres Courreges, with little cut-out windows at the top. A picture is shown here.

High heels are not new, but modern shoes often have heels going up to 6" height, which is a first. Here is a range from today.

We will be adding to this page, describing some interesting shoes. Please keep popping back.

Here, we are going to explain the shoes made by shoe designers in the 20th century. Shoes are a very important part of the history of costume, and the people who make them are very creative and imaginative. We are going to meet them all here.

As we go into the 21st century, shoes have taken great strides. We can now store our on-body computer hardwear in the heel of our shoes, as can be seen from this picture.

There are a great many good places to purchase Boots and Shoes, I have selected my favorite, which is linked  below. Good stuff.

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