Footwear is a topic that HBC has not yet serious addressed, especially 19th century footwear. We have begun to acquire some information about the 20th century. French boys have worn a wide range of dfferent footwear styes. High-top shoes were very common until after World War II. Sandals were popular, especilly during the summer. We see a lot of boys wearing dressy strap shoes in French postcards. This appears to be much less common among actual French boys. Sneakers became very popular in the 1970s. A French reader writes, "On many HBC images, one can see children without shoes. Here, and our overseas territories too, and since a long time, one can't imagine children barfoot, the mothers would considered as casualness, they guess the child feet are fragile."
Hightop shoes were common in the late 19th century and continued to be a major style for boys until after World War II. This appears in the 20th century to have been a style for primary school children. Younger children might wear strap shoes. A lot of commercial post cards show boys wearing strap shoes.
These appear, however, to be idealized imges made for sale rather than acurate depictions of contemporary children. They seem much less common among sactual boys, even when dressing up. Sandals have been popular during the 20th century, although we are unsure as to when they first appeared. They seem especially popular during the summer. Low cut oxford shoes became popular in the 20th century, but did not replace hightop shoes until after World War II. We note, however that even into the 1960s that some children wore hightop boot-like shoes. We begin to note many boyswearing snaekers in the 1950s, but they had a more flimsy look than American Keds and were often hightop. Trendier sneakers appared in the 1970s and became very popular. .
French boys commonly wore strap shoes, but this was primarily with dressy outfits. I am not sure when boys began to wear closed toe sandals for casual wear. I think probably the 1920s-30s, but this requires additional research. I do know that closed-toe sandals were veing widely worn by French boys by the 1950s, but primarily during the summer. The styles were less standard than in Britain and included styles with single bars, "T" straps, double bars, and a variety of others. As in England, they were worn much like boys now wear sneakers, but also could be worn for more formal occasions. At least by the 1960s they had become less popular for boys. As soon as sneakers appeared in the 1960s, they quickly replaced closed-toe sandals which are now rarely worn except by very little boys and girls.
A French reader writes, "On many HBC images, one can see children without shoes. Here, and our overseas territories too, and since a long time, one can't imagine children barfoot, the mothers would considered as casualness, they guess the child feet are fragile."
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