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Pair of shoes

  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (textile, woven)
    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1735 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded silk, lined with leather, grosgrain ribbon and polished steel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1 []

Object Type
The passion for wearing silks spread to women's shoes in the 18th century. Until the 1790s, very little leather was used for women's footwear, except boots for outdoors. The curved heel and pointed up-turned toe of this shoe are typical of women's shoes of the 1730s.

Ownership & Use
Such a delicate shoe was intended for indoor wear only. When travelling, riding or walking outdoors, women wore leather boots. Dancing offered an excellent opportunity to show off elegant shoes normally hidden under petticoats.

Materials & Making
The sole of the shoe is leather with a silk upper. Considerable care has been taken to fit a floral motif over the toe of the shoe. The side straps, or latchets, overlap and would normally be held closed by a steel buckle, cut and polished to simulate diamonds.

Physical description

Pair of woman's shoes made of white brocaded silk with a design in shades of blue, pink and green. The upper and heel are covered with the same material. They are bound with white grosgrain ribbon and the uppers are lined with white leather. The inner sole is made of brown leather. The buckles are made of polished steel. There is a white leather lining between the sole and the shoe. The shoes feature a design of large fruit placed over the toes.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (textile, woven)
England (made)


ca. 1735 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brocaded silk, lined with leather, grosgrain ribbon and polished steel

Marks and inscriptions

Written in ink under the instep (not an 18th century inscription)


Height: 12 cm, Width: 9 cm, Depth: 24 cm

Object history note

Made from silk woven in Spitalfields, London

Descriptive line

Pair of woman's shoes made of brocaded silk and leather, textile woven in Spitalfields, made in England, ca. 1735

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Patterned silk was a fashionable fabric for women's shoes in the 18th century. New silk was used to cover shoes to match a gown, but pieces of dress fabric could also be recycled. Since little of the full pattern was visible, it mattered less that it should be the newest fashion. [27/03/2003]


Footwear; Fashion; Women's clothes; Textiles; Leather; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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