Extant Victorian Side-Lacing Gaiters

Darlings, I realize I’ve been going on and on about “Gettysburg” boots without showing you the real deal!  So here are lots of examples of pretty gaiters from the 1830s to the 1860s:

Shoe-Icons, 1830-40 – a delightful pair of velvet boots, foxed in black leather.
Shoe-Icons, 1830-40 – one of my favorites
Vintage Textile, 1830s – boots like these were often made to match gowns, using scrap fabric.
The Met, 1840s – boots like these were often foxed in patent leather. The foxing protected the shoes from wear.
Museum of London, 1840
History Up Close, 1850s – despite being displayed this way, the lacing would be done up on the inside of the leg.
Litchfield Historical Society, 1860 – there were all manner of designs for foxing. This example has foxing on the heel, but not on the toe. Some have toe foxing but not on the heel.
Oakland Museum of California, 1860 – these have small common sense heels applied, but the construction is the same as before.
You can see there isn’t much change between the 1830s and 1860, which I think makes boots like these wonderfully versatile for us historical costumers. The same boots can be worn with all sorts of costumes, and even for Civil War reenactment, and are especially suited to Wives & Daughters picnics, and Dickens Fairs.


  • Elizabeth

    January 28, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    Do you know if they would have had separate gaiters? Our group in England are portaying extremely poor people and are finding it challenging to research what women would have worn on their feet! I would have thought that shoes made of fabric would have been a bit flimsy for poor women considering the state of the roads. Would you have any ideas on what would have been worn?

    • Lauren Stowell

      January 28, 2014 at 4:14 AM

      Hi Elizabeth – Yes, there were separate gaiters (this style of shoe developed out of the separate variety), and also all-leather shoes and booties. Poor women in England would have worn all leather shoes lacing up either the side or the front, and with thick soles. There are references to soling being repaired and patched with gutta percha, a latex derivative, which came about after about 1843. Here's more about that as pertains to shoes: http://www.victorianlondon.org/cassells/cassells-30.htm

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