Today’s post is all about carriage boots. I’m maybe a little TOO excited about our new “Victoria” Carriage Boots…I’m…well…wearing them right now. They went to Starbucks with me this morning, and now I don’t want to take them off. I might sleep in them.
|Carriage boots as modern fashion|
Carriage boots, sometimes called sleigh boots, were a fashionable but also essential item for chilly ladies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Worn while traveling, carriage boots were most commonly overshoes, tied on over a lady’s delicate indoor-only shoes, to protect from the elements. We have examples of carriage boots all the way back to the early Victorian period, and by the 1870s, carriage boots took on the form they were to maintain for the next 70 years.
|Albany Institute of History and Art, 1875-85|
|The Met, 1880-95|
Carriage boots were commonly black velvet trimmed in fur, but they also came in other colors, such as pink, tan, and this psychedelic green:
|Shoe Icons, 1880-1890|
|A stunning pair of peach brocade and ivory mink carriage boots – Bata Shoe Museum, c. 1900|
The fur could be any color, and was typically rabbit or mink. Ribbons tied across the tongue of the boots, creating a fluffy appearance and allowing for adjustability.
|A pair from eBay with grey fur (listing no longer available)|
For our carriage boots, I first found a reference pair on eBay, which was invaluable when figuring out how to reproduce them. This original pair, impossible to accurately date, were overshoes made by B. Altman & Company, a New York department store with a long history starting in 1865.
One of the trickiest questions to answer was how the boots laced. Most of the originals I looked at had four grommets on each side, but the ribbons didn’t tie over the fur trim. The example pair I found didn’t come with any ribbons, but I experimented until finding the proper way to lace them, which we translated to our “Victoria” boots.
|Grosgrain ribbon ties on “Victoria” Carriage Boots cleverly tie under the fur trim.|
As always, we’ve made every effort to maintain the historical accuracy of our reproduction boots. The Victorias are not overshoes, but regular boots with a wedge heel – both voted on by you guys, and verified of their existence in period in Nancy Rexford’s “Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930.” The next deviation from the original was to use mouton (sheepskin) for the fur trim, instead of a fur-trade option, or an environmentally-destructive faux fur option.
|Mouton trim and quilted lining.|
The result is a charming recreation of a very interesting and accurate winter boot that works for everything from early bustle period through to the 1920s and 30s, which for women’s fashion is an astonishingly long time!
|“Victoria” Carriage Boots on actual human legs|
If you’d like a pair of your own “Victoria” Carriage Boots to wear with your costumes or just with jeans, head over to AmericanDuchess.com to learn more.