What better place to start than by looking at originals? Those of you familiar with our Stratford shoes will be interested to know that flat shoes and heeled were contemporary, and that the aristocracy wore flat shoes as well as heeled, but heeled shoes for classes further down the food chain did not come into common wear until later in the 17th century.
For "Virginia," I worked with the costume designer at Jamestown to develop a unisex style that was similar to a shoe that was excavated from a well at the settlement, seen here:
|Shoe leather from an early Jamestown well, with a sketch of the original design|
|Shoes from The Mary Rose|
|Mary Rose shoes - via|
|Mary Rose shoe|
Moving towards the end of the 16th century, both men and women start wearing open-sided shoes that are either flat, wedged, or with a short, blocky heel. Toe shapes, slashing patterns, and colors varied:
|Sir Jerome Bowes, by an unknown artist, c. 1584|
|Sir Anthony Mildmay, by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1585 - he's got quite pointed toes|
|Elizabeth I, by an artist of the English school, c. 1592|
|The Browne Brothers, by Isaac Oliver, 1598 - you can see not all shoes were white (that was a very aristocratic/royalty/court thing)|
|V and A, English origin, c. 1600|
|Prince Henry, sone of James I, c. 1608|
|Charles-Alexandre de Croy, Flemish, 1610|
|Sir Thomas Pope, c. 1635 - still flat, square-toed, quite large opening on the side, and black. Love his jaunty pink stockings, too!|
So there's a basic primer on this particular shoe style of this specific time period. Next time, I'll share more about Virginia's development, with tantalizing photos, and enticing reasons why you simply must have them for your next Renaissance Fair!