18th Century Pattens for Shoes

Bata Shoe Museum – Shoes with clog English, 1710-1730


What are pattens, besides really really cool?  Pattens were ladies’ shoe accessories worn to protect one’s fancy shoes, to raise the wearer up out of the mud and muck of the street, and to keep the heels of the shoes from sinking into the various street substances.  They served to protect hems, and prolong the life of the shoes they covered.

V and A, 1730-1740

18th century pattens are fancy affairs, which seem to have been as much a fashion statement as one of practicality.  They were made of leather, but also velvet and fancy brocades, and tied on to the shoes with latchets.  Most interestingly, Georgian pattens have a little wedge under the arch of the shoe, tucked up between the heel and the ball of the foot.  One would often purchase shoes and matching pattens together, though mixing-and-matching is often seen in museum examples. With all the buckles, straps, bows, and fancy materials, the two items worn together made quite a display.

The Met, early 18th c.
The Met, early 18th c.

What do you think about pattens?  They are not an item commonly seen on the feet of costumed ladies these days (in fact, I don’t think I have ever seen *anybody* wearing them), but do you think this is something missing in our representations of the past?  If pattens were available, would you wear them?


    • Lauren Stowell

      February 16, 2013 at 5:47 AM

      True, and that is exactly why pattens fell out of favor in the 19th century – the roads just weren't as blah as they used to be, hehe. I suppose wearing them would be more of a statement of history than from a specific need.

  • ZipZip

    February 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    They could be really useful, especially in museums where people are interpreting…bet they'd spur a good bit of interest from spectators.

    Plain pattens with iron rings on the bottom would be useful too.

    Very best,


    • Lauren Stowell

      February 16, 2013 at 5:48 AM

      I haven't tried walking in anything like this, but the concept is the same as a wedge – the sole of the patten is flat, but you foot is inclined inside the high heel.

  • Jeni B

    February 14, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I've wanted some for ages! If you made them to go with your Devonshires or Pompadours I'd definitely get some so they were a good match for the heel. I expect they would get a lot of attention from the public, I'm sure it would be nice to hear what people think of them in this age from a non-costume perspective.

  • Rowenna

    February 14, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    I think they're an awesome piece of 18th century fashion…but I'll be honest, I'd never wear them. I'm either doing grubby outdoorsy lower class things where pattens would make no sense, or indoorsy things where pattens would make no sense. I'd love to see others rocking them, and I could see myself splurging on a pair for living history "show and tell" someday as I build my kit and run out of practical things to make and buy for myself 🙂

  • misslesliesprentice

    February 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I would totally wear them. I've been drooling over Sarah Juniper's pattens, but I can only dream of buying a pair. They're almost $500. And I think for those who portray the upper set, they are under-represented.

    • Lauren Stowell

      February 16, 2013 at 5:50 AM

      I too drool over all of Sarah Juniper's work. So inspiring, and made-to-match as well, but like you, I can't afford them, haha. It's part of the reason I got into making footwear for costumers in the first place 🙂

  • KittyKatt

    February 15, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    If I were a person who had occasion to wear them, I would definitely buy them. I did a seminar on medieval footwear once, and they had them for their shoes as well, though they looked a little different.

  • Vincent Briggs

    February 15, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Yes! Pattens are awesome. If you made pattens to go with your Pompadours I would save up and buy a pair, I would get lots of use out of them too. We have so much muddy and slushy weather here in the Maritime provinces.

  • Unknown

    February 19, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Pattens are the perfect next step for costumers/re-enacters who want to get it right. I have worn pattens when I re-enact medieval & Renaissance eras. They are great for giving you a bit of extra height and keeping you out of the dirt or mud as they are not just for wet weather. Would totally love it if you produced a pair.

  • Ash

    February 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    I would love to wear pattens – not only would they keep my pristine shoes clean, but the idea of all those laces and buckles is charming.

    I'd be even more interested in the very tall Renaissance pattens, but that's more of an engineering project

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