Ladies could buy ready-made shoes and boots in the 1860s, but they could also make their own shoes.

Shoes and boots could be made from a number of materials including leather, silk, wool and elastic. Footwear of the era included both straight and curved lasts (that is, shoes made differently for right and left feet, and shoes made identically). Footwear also included both flat soles and low-heels. All footwear of the period appears to be square-toed.

Boots could have working or decorative buttons. They could also be laced, either up the front or on the side. Boots sometimes had gussets made from elastic. Boots could be plain or decorated with bows and rosettes.

Shoes could also be plain or decorated with bows, buckles or rosettes (or combinations of all three!). The fabric used could be solid or patterned. Shoe decorations did not have to match the shoe.

Boots were typically worn for outdoor activities from hiking and picnics to shopping and strolling downtown. Shoes tended to be more for indoor activities.

Rubber overshoes were also available during this time period and look much like the plain black rubber overshoes of today.

Stockings were always worn with either boots or shoes. Stockings were typically over-the-knee, and required garters to hold them up.

For more detailed information, click on the links below.

Boot and Overshoes

Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker - In 1855 an anonymous Lady published a small book of instructions for making shoes at home - "Every Lady her own Shoemaker or, A Complete Self-Instructor in The Art of Making Gaiters and Shoes". Her patterns are for shoes, for ankle-high gaiters with fabric uppers, leather soles, leather heels and toe-caps, for Congress gaiters with an elastic gore instead of a laced opening, and also for a man's slippers. This facsimile copy includes 6 pull out diagrams.

Sources for Shoes & Boots