For many years shoes were constructed of leather, wood, or some type of fabric. Now they can be made from rubber, plastics, or other newly derived materials.

Cost has been a major factor as to who wore shoes. Some populations of the world could not afford them. However, mass production has enabled the shoe to be sold more cheaply and now the majority of the world can afford to wear shoes.

Looking through the periods of history we come upon some very quaint traditions and developments as man utilized the shoe to fit his style of living.

  • Earliest designs of shoes were like “foot-bags” of leather. This was common in the colder climates.
  • During the Middle Ages “turn-shoes” were developed. The shoe was constructed inside out, wetted and then turned so the finished side of the leather was on the outside.
  • A shoe from the 14th century that is still worn today is the “espadrille”.
  • A “patten” was an overshoe with a wooden sole and an open leather vamp that was used in Europe during the Middle Ages to keep a person’s foot dry in rainy weather. You tied the “patten” on with latchets onto the foot over the shoe.
  • A lo-o-ng pointed toed shoe was the “poulaine”. It was worn by men of wealth in Europe in the 15th century.
  • The “chopine” was another shoe that had a raised sole. It was worn more by the wealthy starting in Venice and then spreading across Europe. These overshoes were on a raised platform and worn over the shoe. This gave height to the person sometimes adding up to 30″. Because this would make it difficult to walk ladies would take their maidservants along to help them keep their balance. The church, surprisingly approved of the “chopines” since you couldn’t really dance in them and that would reduce the opportunities to sin. The “chopines” themselves had a unique set of problems particularly after marriage when the bridegroom discovered his wife was very short. In England, it was even possible to annul the marriage if the bride had falsely pretended she was taller. They were finally outlawed in Venice when pregnant women miscarried after falling from the “chopines”.