Steampunk Boots with cooling coils for heels.
I have previously done three articles on Victorian era shoes and boots. Now it is time to get to the real meat of the matter: Steampunk Boots!
The Steampunk Aesthetic certain is influenced by the Victorian era, but isn’t limited by it. This means Steampunk footwear can be made from a range of materials, including modern fabrics and improved technology to make boots and shoes. Since the Victorian era covers a wide range of boot types, nearly any style can be adapted to the Steampunk Aesthetic. You can get very creative!
Steel Heel Boots
Boots with gadgets!
Boots made to look like they are being worn with spats.
Boots that convert to shoes.
Shoe heels made to look like teacups.
Boots were designed for protection.
“Why do you wear pattens, Marty? The turnpike is clean enough, although the lanes are muddy.”
“They save my boots.”
“But twelve miles in pattens–’twill twist your feet off. Come, get up and ride with me.”
-from Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders
Early 19th century pattens
The ground was mucky in both the city and the county in the Victorian era. Modern plumbing and sewer systems weren’t being built until late in the 1800s, and the roads only started to improve with the introduction of cars and bicycles. This meant you really didn’t want to be tramping in the outdoors in your good shoes. This in when you relied on your patterns, overshoes, or boots.
A Wellington Boot cartoon
Pattens were a type of clog or overshoe that raised your shoes above the muck on the street. Pattens had a wooden or wood & metal soles. Wellington boots are still in use today, though modern wellies are generally made out of plastic and rubber rather than leather. Overshoes were similar to pattens, except they tended to be designed better than pattens – often the wealthy had overshoes made for special pairs of shoes.
19th century overshoes
Detail of beaded silk slippers from the 1880s
In the Victorian period, women didn’t show off their shoes, and they were generally hidden under their long skirts. There were two main types of day-wear shoes worn by women for the appropriate occasion: the boot, and the slipper.
Velvet button boots
Two-toned laced boots circa 1900
Boots were the workhorse of the Victorian-era women’s shoes. The boot could be made from hard leather and was worn by working women (of all classes) during the day, or could be made from more luxurious materials to create a riding boot or festival boot for the aristocrats and middle class women. The boots could be laced or buttoned.
Leather button boots
Canvas button boots
Even my cat Felix has buttons on his boots.
Slippers were for everyday wear indoors – if you were wealthy – or festivals and celebrations, like weddings and balls. They could be made of leather or a range of fabrics. They were often richly ornamented.
A selection of decorated dancing shoes
Cotton and silk shoes circa 1845–60. As you can see, these would be nearly useless if worn outside.
I’m afraid I have a weakness for shoes and boots. I don’t like admitting it, because it is such a cliché for a woman to love shoes. But I blame my Great Aunt, who gave me her wedding boots as a gift, and I blame my great grandfather, who was a cobbler and a boot maker. I was driven by both nature and nurture to love shoes.
1870 velvet and gold leather button boots
Victorian-era, jet-beaded, leather lace-up boots dating from 1895
Embroidered silk-lined boots, made with linen and kid, with leather soles, circa 1885
It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that they started making pairs shoes that were distinctly left and right. This is obvious from Queens Victoria’s wedding slippers below, where the shoes have nearly identical configurations. By the end of the 19th century, shoe making was taken to a high art and all pairs of boots & shoes were made to mirror each other. It was a revolution in both style and comfort.
The satin shoes worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day, 10 February 1840
Wedding & fancy dress boots, ranging from the middle to late 1800s