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Elizabethan Shoes

  • Interesting Facts and information about Clothing & Fashion - Elizabethan Shoes
  • Fashion - Elizabethan Shoes and Boots
  • Shoes for Men and Women
  • Extract from pamphlet by Philip Stubbes regarding Elizabethan Shoes dated 1583

Picture of Queen Elizabeth I


Elizabethan Shoes

Clothing and Fashion - Elizabethan Shoes

There were clearly two categories of shoes during the Elizabethan era - those for the lower class and those for the upper class.


They were made of stout or fine leather or, for the Upper Class velvet or silk. Shoes with high heels were created during the end of the Elizabethan era but were only worn by the nobility. Shoes could be slipped on or fastened with ribbons or laces. They were sometimes decorated with trims, embroidery or jewels and 'pinked' with tiny holes.

Elizabethan Shoes - the Styles

Elizabethan shoes came in many styles which are detailed as follows:

  • Boots - Boots were made of smooth or wrinkled leather, fittings were loose or tight, used for riding and walking
  • Gamache - A gamache was a high boot
  • Buskins - Buskins were calf length shoes / boots
  • Startups - Startups were leather shoes worn as protective coverings for outdoor use
  • Pumps - Pumps were light, or single-soled slip-on shoes
  • Chopines - Chopines, or Chapineys, were slip-on over shoes made of wood and covered with leather
  • Clogs - The clog was an outdoor, wooden shoe
  • Corked Shoes - Corked shoes featured a wedge of cork between the foot and the sole
  • Galoche - A Galoche, or Galage, was a protective overshoe
  • Pantofle - A Pantofle came in two styles - a protective, outdoor overshoe and a slipper for indoors
  • Pinsons - A pinson or pincnet was a delicate shoe

Elizabethan Shoes - a comment dating back to 1583.

During the Elizabethan era pamphlets were printed and distributed commenting on life in Elizabethan England. A writer of one such pamphlet was a well travelled Londoner called Philip Stubbes. He was believed to have been born c1555 and died c1610. He was well educated and attended both Oxford and Cambridge University. He was also a strict Elizabethan Puritan and held firm views on any social practices which, in his view were, unfitting  true Christians. He named his work " The Anatomie of Abuses " in which he strongly criticised many of the fashions and clothing worn during the Elizabethan era. It was entered in the Stationers' Register on 1 March 1583. This pamphlet includes his view and some valuable information about Elizabethan Shoes

"To these their nether-stocks, they have corked shooes, pincnets, and fine pantofles, which beare them up a finger or two inches or more from the ground; wherof some be of white leather, some of black, and some of red, some of black velvet, some of white, some of red, some of green, raced, carved, cut and stitched all over with silk, and laid on with golde, silver, and such like: yet, notwithstanding, to what good uses serve these pantofles, except it be to wear ina private house, or in a man's chamber to keepe him warme? (for this is the onely use wherto they best serve in my judgement) but to go abroad in them, as they are now used al together, is rather a let or hinderance to a man then otherwise; forshall he not be faine to knock and spurn at every stone, wall or post to keep them on his feet?

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Shoes

Some interesting facts and confirmation of information about Elizabethan shoes can be obtained from the words of Philip Stubbes. A first hand impression of the fashions of the Elizabethan era are invaluable - but the Elizabethan style of writing can be hard going. The following information has therefore been taken from the points he made on Elizabethan shoes:

  • Types of shoes
    • Corked
    • Pincnets
    • Pantofles
  • 2 inch heels
  • Material - Leather in black, red and white. Practical for outdoor wear
  • Material - Velvet - various colors including black, white, red and green decorated with silk, and laid on with gold and silver. For indoor wear and impractical


"...For first of all the shoomaker liquoreth his leather, with waterish liquor, kit-then stuff, and all kinde of baggage mingled togither. And as though that were not ill inough, they saie they use to put salt in the liquor, wherewithall they grease the leather of purpose, to the end that the leather shal never hold out water. And trulie it is very likelie they do so, or some such like thing, for surelie almost none of their leather will holde out water, nor scarselie durt neither. Besides this, it is a worlde to see how lowsely they shall be sowed, with hotte alles, and burning threedes, everie stitch an inch or two from another, so as within two or three daies you shall have themseamerent and all to betorn.


And yet as though this were not ill inoughe, they adde more. Sometimes they will sell you calves leather for cow leather, horsehides for oxe hides, and truelie I think rotten sheepe skins for good substantial and dureable stuffe. And yet shall a man pay for these as well as for better stuffe. And to the ende they may seeme gaudie to the eie, they must be stitched finelie, pincked, cutte, karved, rased, nickt, and I cannot tell what. And good reason, forelse would they never be sold. The inwarde soole of the shooe commonlie shall be no better than a cattes skinne, the heeles of the shooes shall be little better. And if the sooles be not (as they be indeede) yet must they be underlaied withother peeces of leather, to make them seeme thicke and excellent stuffe, whereas indeede they are nothing lesse. And to make the sools stiffe, and harde, they must be parched before the fire, and then they are the most excellent sooles, And suchas will never be worne, no, I think not in halfe a coopple of daies, which is a woonderfull thing.But now five or sixe paire, half a score, yea, twentie paire of shooes will scarcely serve some a yeere, such excellent stuff are they made of."

Shoemakers and How shoes were made during the Elizabethan Era

Some interesting facts and information about how shoes were made during the Elizabethan era. Philip Stubbes is furious about the sharp practices of Shoemakers but a general process can be obtained from his above comments

  • Leather made waterproof by soaking in a liquor and application of grease
  • Sewed using hot needles and threads
  • Material - Stubbes points out the 'cons' but in so doing provides details of the materials
    • calves leather for cow leather
    • horsehides for oxe hides
    • sheep skins for better materials
    • Stubbes insists that cat skins were used for insides of shoes
  • Stitched finely, pinked, cut and carved
  • Shoes heated by the fire to harden them

Elizabethan Elizabethan Shoes

Additional details, facts and information about Elizabethan Clothing and Fashion can be accessed via the Elizabethan Era Sitemap.


Fashion and Clothing - Elizabethan Shoes and Boots

  • Interesting Facts and information about Clothing & Fashion - Elizabethan Shoes
  • Fashion - Elizabethan Shoes and Boots
  • Shoes for Men and Women
  • Extract from pamphlet by Philip Stubbes regarding Elizabethan Shoes dated 1583
  • Boots, clogs, slippers, pantofles, galoche, champines, pumps and corked shoes


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