Later this week we’re introducing a new style – “Manhattan” Button Boots.
Following the uber-popular “Tavistock” boots, the time seemed right to introduce a variation for Summer – c. 1890 – 1920 cloth-topped boots in black-on-black or brown-and-tan.
Cloth-topped boots, sometimes called “galoshes,” developed from early leather-and-fabric gaiter styles. You’re all familiar with the early and mid-Victorian foxed booties with bits of leather on the toes and sometimes heels – this practicality continued into the late Victorian period with the heel and toe foxing eventually meeting so the whole bottom of the boot was leather.
|Cloth-topped button boots c. 1867 – The Met|
|Cloth and leather side-buttoning boots c. 1870 – Augusta Auctions|
|Men’s button boots – wool tops and leather bottoms – c. 1890-1900 – V and A|
Part of this was also fashion. Women’s cloth-topped boots came along a little after men’s, as the popularity of women’s tailor-made, menswear-inspired clothing grew. In addition, women were participating in more sports and often wore spats for activities such as cycling. Sporting fashion carried over into daywear, with boots like these combining the shoe + spat look.
|Men’s shoe and ladies’ tall boot from the same time period, c. 1890-1900 – V and A|
|Example of women’s sporting spats, or gaiters, worn over low-topped shoes|
|Gaiters for sale in the Sears Catalog, 1920. From “Everyday Fashions of the Twenties”|
Cloth-top boots became widely fashionable in the 1890s and reached the height of their popularity between 1910 and 1914 (Rexford, 2000). Tone-on-tone colors such as black, tan, and white were popular as well as two-tone versions such as black/gray, brown/tan, and black/white.
|Cloth-top button boots c. 1910-14, originally from Vintage a la Mode on Etsy (original listing no longer available)|
|Edwardian cloth-top button boots with stacked heels and straight fly – originally from Simplicity is Bliss on Etsy (original listing no longer available)|
|Edwardian cloth-top button boots with stacked French heels – originally from A Perfect Patina on Etsy (original listing no longer available)|
By the late 19teens, button boots in general were falling out of fashion, with the very last persisting to the early 1920s but no further. (I noticed in the “Everday Fashions” Sears Catalog books that the illustrated models are still wearing what appear to be either two-tone button boots or spats over shoes until 1921, but not afterwards except for a rubber rainboot overshoe with side buttons in 1922.)
|Sears Catalog, 1915 – cloth or “dull kid” tops. From “Everyday Fashions 1909-1920”|
|Advertisement from 1917 – the bottom right boot is cloth and leather, but the other buttoning two-tones are leather tops and bottoms, also a very common style contemporary to the cloth/leather combo. This image is from Vintage Buttercup on Etsy|
As always, our new “Manhattan” boots are based on original examples. My antique button boot collection has been growing, and an original black-on-black pair stood for the patterning of our reproductions.
|Original cloth-top side-buttoning boot from the American Duchess Archive (I feel sassy saying that, lol) – c. 1900 – 1915|
The Manhattans share a last with Tavistock, but we’ve made a few changes. The heel is the same shape and height – 2 inches – but is covered with leather in a faux stacked design. The soles of Manhattan are real leather with a double thickness under the ball of the foot, and a welt top stitch. Manhattans do not come up as high on the leg as Tavistock, and we have omitted the use of elastic. Don’t worry, though – you can still fit the ankle and leg by moving the buttons, either taking them in or letting them out: there is a 1 inch overlap on the button fly to allow this.
Manhattan boots are opening for pre-order on Thursday, April 14. We have them at an introductory retail price of $160 and, in addition, you will have your choice of a free pair of stockings or a $10 discount as a “thank you” for placing your order early. The boots will arrive in July.
Rexford, Nancy E. Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930. Kent, OH: Kent State UP, 2000. Print.
Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashion of the Twenties. N.p.: Dover Publications, 1981. Print.
Olian, JoAnne. Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920: As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. New York: Dover, 1995. Print.