High Heeled Shoes

A s hemlines began to rise by the mid-1920s, the adornment of women's feet became an essential part of a fashionable outfit. High-heeled shoes with low-cut uppers emphasized women's dainty ankles. For the most part high-heeled shoes had one- or two-inch chunky heels. At the beginning of the decade the uppers fastened to the foot with laces or straps with buttons on one side. As the decade continued, the ornamentation on these shoes became fancier and many shoes were designed to match whole outfits.

By mid-decade the T-strap sandal showed off even more of a woman's foot.

Like other shoe styles, the T-strap sandal had high heels, but the upper portion of the shoe was cut away into a T-shape to expose the top of the foot. Considered fashionable, if a bit racy, in the 1920s the T-strap sandal became especially popular into the fol-


Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You?: A Walk Through the History of Footwear. New York: Walker and Co., 1996.

Pratt, Lucy, and Linda Woolley. Shoes. London, England: V&A Publications, 1999.

[See also Volume 4, 1919-29: T-Strap Sandal]

Spats are linen or canvas shoe coverings that fasten under the bottom of the shoe and button up the side. They were first designed to protect shoes and ankles from mud and water while walking. However, between 1910 and the mid-1930s, spats eventually became an elegant men's fashion accessory, often associated with gangsters and dandies, a term to describe well-dressed men of the time.

Spats originated in the seventeenth century as leather or cloth coverings called gaiters. Gaiters were leggings that covered the shoe and leg up to the knee. They were worn by both women, whose dresses did little to protect shoes and stockings from mud and water splashes, and men, who at that time wore breeches, a type of pants, that ended just below the knee. By the 1700s several European nations had made gaiters a part of their military uniform. Gaiters were also called spatterdash because they protected their wearer from spatters and dashes of muddy water in the street.

Spatterdash, or spats, as they came to be called, remained popular for both men and women for several centuries. During the early part of the 1900s men wore them less frequently, as boots had come into fashion. However, by 1910 shoes were back in style for men, and a kind of shortened spat became a required part of lowing decade.

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