Boys' Strap Shoe Chronology: Renaissance (1400-1700)

Figure 1.--We see many men and children wearing various styles of strap shoes during the Renaissance. This portrait was painted about 1623 while Van Dyck was in Itlay. The boy is Filippo Cattaneo, Son of Marchesa Elena Grimaldi. Van Dyck spent several years working in Italy. Click on the image for more examples.

The shoe style with an open-top front and crossbar was widely worn during the Renaisance. We also notice "T" straps. Some of the styles are remarkably similar to modern styles. They seem to have been a kind of soft-leather shoe. I'm not sure about the soles. We notice them in period portraits which means mostly royalty and the afluent. We are less sure about what the peasantry and urban poor wore. National differences were not as important as they were to become. Royalty and the aflluent dressed in many of the same fashions at the time. Many fashions developed in Italy and when the monarchy of Louis XIV, France became a fashion center. These strap shoes were worn by both men and women, as well as children. It was not at the time, however, considered specufically a child's style. I'm not sure what they were called at the time. Numerous paintings show this style of footwear being worn throughout Europe. We note the style in the 16th century One reader writes, "I believe modern single bar shoes, evolved from shoes worn by men, such as Henry VIII, and came from a design by Francis I of France. Unfortunately, I did not save the reference when I saw it several years ago.) We also note 17th century styles. A good example is Flemish boys (about 1625). We also notice Italian boys in Genoa (1620s). Another painting shows a Flemish adult wearing a double strap style (1643). Another example is a boy in a Dutch village school (about 1665). We will link examples here to build a time line of this style of footwear. Some of these shoes do look similar to the strap shoes worn by children in the 20th centurty. We are not sure, however, if there is an actual connection or the styles are simply similar. Hopefully a fashion historian as addressed thos issue, but we are not yet aware of any such studies.


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Created: 12:56 AM 8/31/2005
Last updated: 1:34 AM 11/13/2005