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foot talk

Read this blog and you will never trust yourself alone with a pair of shoes again. I am a retired university lecturer and shoe and foot savant dedicated to inform and entertain those fascinated by their feet and shoes.

Updated: 2018-02-23T20:20:46.990+08:00


Garters: Where on Earth did they come from?


Frenchman, Charles de la Condamine discovered caoutchouc in 1731 when he found indigenous Indians waterproofing their shoes with the resin of certain trees. Later other plant families in Africa, Eastern Asia and India were also discovered to yield the same milky residue which became elastica. Stocking suspenders attached to the front of the stays were patented by 1882. By 1893 the market place was abound with choice and many types of suspender belts were available. Despite women continuing to use garters to keep their stockings up, knee suspender belts were soon preferred. Alienation of the previous fashion was accompanied with claims that they caused cramps and varicose veins. The suspender belt was made in satin and elastic with gilt mounts and clips with a shaped belt fitting round the corset. Suspenders took a definitive place not just in fashion but in the history of eroticism. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Can-Can dancers from mid-1890 displayed not just the petticoats but also the forbidden expanse of thigh flesh highlighted by the black suspender. Stockings remained short necessitating long suspenders. The demise of the wooden toilet seat (throne) was thought to have taken place because the metal clips in suspenders caused severe splintering of the polish surface. Not too comfortable to sit on. During 1880s stockings were generally cotton or wool (ribbed cashmere for the wealthy) for day and plain coloured with contrasting clocks were usual. Heavy bustled dresses were toe length and worn during the day. For eveningwear stockings were dyed silk with fanciful, designs and deep embroideries up the front of the leg. Red silks with flights of swallows pale and interesting yellow wreathed in butterflies or garlands of flowers for the respectable girls and the flightier sported embroidered snakes that coiled sexily around the calves. By 1888 black stockings had become fashionable for both day and nightwear. The change in fashion may have been an economic practicality, since many working girls travelled on public transport. Special stockings were worn for recreational activities such as walking, bicycling and sport. Black stockings were worn with tennis dress and swimming costumes. During the late nineteenth century the garment industry was sumptuous to those with the readies. Cheaper off the peg clothing also became available reaching the working class girls via new magazines and periodicals. The beauties of theatre and High Society were copied meticulously. Later in the 20th century with the introduction of synthetic polymers stockings became less and less fashionable as nylons then tights took over. Now toady of course, stockings, suspender belts and garters are very much to the fore among the young fashionable glitterati. During the Second World War when there was a shortage of materials, nylons were in very short supply and many young girls would paint their legs with skin paint and using a special pencil had a straight line drawn down the back to give the appearance of a seam. A century before, long and elegant legs were a mark of style but wait for it, not for women but for males! The well-proportioned male leg had it all and was an accepted sign of breeding and aristocracy. The long shapely leg became associated with moral probity, decency, worthiness and reliability. The cut of clothes and wearing tall hats also added to the streamline athletic appearance, which remained the hallmark of aristocracy. The short fat hairy leg didn’t quite make it and was a clear sign of a lack of breeding. Perhaps that is why Napoleon wore lifts in his shoes. The less well-endowed and sneaky would scrumptiously slip on false leg pads, similar to shin pads just to make their legs look full bodied. The female leg became a source of erotic fantasy. The legs of Nineteenth Century women were considered very sexy and generally safely hidden under long skirts but a glimpse of stocking was, as we know, som[...]

A brief history of the Codpiece


“In days of old, when men were bold and Y fronts weren’t invented.” The forerunner to today’s boxers and briefs was the less than humble codpiece. That’s the sticky out bit at men’s nether region, as worn by Knights of Old and still to be seen in men’s ballet attire. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The practical problem which beset our forefathers was the ability to match upper body clothing with leg attire. Catering for the call of nature compounded matters so the upper crust simply flaunted their naughty bits as a fashion statement. Men wore short jackets whilst no one yet had worked out how to make a functional pair of trousers. Men wore tubular leg coverings obviously unable to cover the genitals which were often left exposed. The cod piece began as a flat piece of triangular material covering of the “rest and be thankfuls.” It was stitched at the three corners or at the bottom angle and tied at the top two angles, over the gap in the front of the hose. When Edward IV (1442 – 1483) decreed men below the rank of Lord could not expose their genitals the flap or cod piece was invented. Fashion crossover meant the codpiece became highly decorated serving both as a boast and provocation. When amour was invented the cod piece remained and protected the wobbly bits. Even later male clothing included a ‘sex purse’ and men vied with each other in their genital display. The popular sex pocket came to be known by various other names. Latin scholars called them ‘barca’ or ‘breeches’, the French insisted they were brayette or graguette; and the English used the Old English word cod meaning “bag” or scrotum. In the reign of Henry VIII it was rumoured when a visiting royal was caught in rather a compromised position his dilemma was clear for all to see including Queen Anne Boleyn. To pass it off with some decorum she tried to save his dignity by asking him was it an apple he had in his pocket. Henry VIII was rather distressed and mistook the sticky out bit for a new fashion fad from Europe. He ordered his cod pieces to be suitably padded preferring the loaf shape to house his family jewels. Whether this is true or not, history records popularity for the cod piece peeked between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries when newer versions were developed. Padding and embroidery became more ornate. A real pocket was added where the wearer had a pocket to keep his purse, handkerchief or pieces of fruit, with little concealed suggestiveness. The latter was offered graciously to good looking ladies. width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The cod piece enjoyed a limited return to fashion in the 20th century when they appeared in the film of Clockwork Orange. ReferencesDanielou A 1995 The phallus: Sacred symbol of male creative power Rochester: Inner Traditions (translated by Graham J.) Interesting Sites A brief history of the codpiece width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> [...]

Sonja Bata (1926 -2018)


Sonja Bata founder of the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto.

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Lawn cutters: Keep your toes on


There is no need to remind you dear reader how tiring a day's physical graft can become when you are on your feet all day. Nor would it be appropriate to bombard you with a set of statistics that might want you to not to get out of your beds of a morning. But it is a well known fact that statistics indicate many tens of thousands of people are treated annually in hospital each year across the globe for lawn mower related injuries. Adults aged between 25-60 sustain most. Injuries involve deep lacerations, amputation and broken and dislocated bones. Fourteen (14) % involve the foot with a large percentage resulting in loss of toes or part of the foot. The vast majority of these injuries are considered preventable. The risk and occupation hazards with people on their feet for a living are well documented and clearly understood. Injuries associated with power lawn mowers fall into four categories:Direct contact with rotating blades.Propelled objects at high speedOverturning (riding mowers)Riding over victims. The foot has an amazingly complex architecture with 26 small bones and 32 joints. It operates by an intricate system of ligaments muscles and tendons and needs to endure forces often 3 times our body weight. There are five separate phases of foot behaviour during one step. The foot needs to land safely, stabilise to take weight, then distribute load, it locks into a rigid lever, before propelling itself forward to take off. Quite an engineering feat (wise choice of words). All of the above is completed in six-tenths of a second. The faster you move the quicker it happens. A normal function of the working foot is to sweat and when confined in the airtight boots this leads to break down of bacteria which give off offensive odours. Perfectly normal but often a source of concern (usually to the people you live with). Easily rectified by simple and regular foot hygiene. Bathing the feet in hand hot water using simple soap (46 degrees C) will wash the bacteria off the skin. Do not steep the feet in hot water as this may weaken the structures, which support the arches of the foot. Pat dry, take care to dry between the toes, then apply cream (the cheaper the better) before a light talcum between the toes (can use baby powder or medicated varieties). This will improve most athletes' foot types. If symptoms persist such as itchiness or tenderness then see a podiatrist. About 25% of the population sweat excessively, good tip is to wear socks, which absorb fluids and can be easily washed. Preferred fabric is cotton or cotton mix. Nowadays there are new polymers, which offer both antibacterial as well as anti fungal properties and these are integrated within the knitted sock. Ideal as treatments for existing infections or as a preventative measures. Recommend a fresh pair of cotton socks per day which allows others to be washed and dried etc. Recommend a second pair of long socks be worn over the short socks. These come over the ankle and can be tired down over the boot to prevent entry of foreign bodies. Woollen socks with double knit soles trap air, which heats to body temperature, and prevents hypothermia of the foot. There are many over the counter inlays, which help reduce the flow of sweat or deodorise the smell. Regular boot fumigation is recommended and kills all microorganisms likely to cause infection. Footwear should be left in an aerated place to distribute pungent fumes. Working boots should be left in the open air when not worn and some people suggest keeping the spare boots in the fridge or freezer to kill micro-organisms Just remember to defrost them in good time. A light sprinkle of talcum or medicated powder into the boot reduces friction against the sides of the boot. Some people used bicarbonate of soda instead. If your work boot do not contain aeration portholes these can easily and cheaply be made by a cobbler. An important proviso is to have a mesh protection to prevent entry of foreign objects. Saf[...]

Selfie Shoes


Chinese New Year: The Year of the Dog


The Chinese calendar is based on the movement of the moon around the sun. There are twelve months in the Chinese year but only 354 days in the year. Whilst the Chinese New Year's Day always falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, the dates vary each year on the Gregorian calendar, between January 21th and February 20th. Only the first three days of Chinese New Year are statutory holiday, but many people take 7 consecutive days off. This year is the Year of the Dog and for people born in a year of the dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018). The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. As an agricultural culture, the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival holiday traditionally was set to start at the beginning of the growing season, which nowadays corresponds to the beginning of a new business year. The hope is always the new zodiac year will bring prosperity and success so it is important to get a good start to the year. During the Chinese New Year thousands flock to the temple, to pray for good fortune in the coming year. The customs is similar to Hogmonay, in that debts are cleared, the house is cleaned and family and friends meet for a feast. Family’s homes and surrounds are cleaned prior to the festival in order to rid the home of any bad fortune from the previous year. Old decorations are removed and replaced with new ones for the Spring Festival. Having a clean home also makes way for good luck in the New Year. Domestic cleaning is never undertaken during the festival in case it sweeps away good fortune. Chinese New Year is a time for family and get together. The New Year’s Eve dinner is a major event with certain foods are prominent because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances. Fish is a must, as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. Eating fish is thought to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year. Other favourites include dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes, and sweet rice balls. Pyrotechnics are a tradition at Chinese New Year. The significance of the fire crackers is to "sound out" the old year and "sound in" the new year. Displays start with one string of small firecrackers, followed by three big firecrackers. The louder and more colourful (red) the three firecrackers are the better and luckier it’ is for the coming year. Evil spirits have an aversion to anything red and loud noises. During the Spring Festival, gifts are exchanged with the most common hóng bāo or red envelopes (yāsuì qián),containing an even number of new bank notes as odd numbers are related to cash given during funerals. Red symbolizes good luck (lee see). It was widely believed with each one hundred dollars received in these holy packets your life span is increased twofold. Traditionally these are given to children, young unmarried adults and (retired) seniors but sometimes employers will reward their workers with red envelopes. In the cyber age young people exchange cyber money via red envelope apps for fun. The magical effects of the hóng bāo can be nullified by the Yu Quan Demon, a malicious spirit that manifests itself in the teeth of the dead. To avoid this, the custom is to burn three sticks of incense every night five minutes before sleeping for three days before and after the Chinese New Year. The practice of giving Mandarin oranges (always in pairs) is also a symbol of good luck. Giving gifts of clocks, watches or other time pieces should be avoided. To the superstitious these symbolise time running out, as well as relationships coming to an end. The Chinese word for shoes sounds similar to evil, and since people step on shoes, they should be avoided as gifts. Families follow a set of beliefs and superstitions to start the year on the right note and there are many superstitions observed during the Spring Festival season. These taboos usu[...]

St Valentine's Day: Footsie this St Valentine's ?


St Valentine’s Day: What to do with your feet? Feet are funny things. Stuck away and forgotten about unless they give us pain or it is time for some naughty foot frolics such as a date on St Valentine’s Day. According to the University of Manchester study some years ago we use feet as a means of non-verbal communication and the secret language of feet can reveal a great deal about our personality. Researchers discovered the way we move our feet reveals much about our feelings both consciously and subconsciously. At a social gathering women will move their feet towards men if they find him attractive. An unnatural amount of foot movement signals dishonesty in both sexes and men tend to move their feet more, when nervous. Unlike facial expressions or hand gestures people are usually unaware when their feet are moving and apparently most of us are oblivious to the messages our feet send out. A few years ago the University of Virginia undertook some interesting research when they paired 48 subjects into male and female couples. The volunteers were unknown to each other and everyone was shown how to play a game of cards before being divided into three groups. Group one could talk to each other but were not allowed to have any physical contact. The couples in the second group could communicate non-verbally by secretly playing footsie under the table but were not able to speak to each other. The last group could communicate by touching feet openly. The groups were then asked to play cards and during this time were observed. The results supported those who talked and touched feet openly were much less attracted to each other than those instructed to play secret footsie. Apparently the attraction related to the risk of detection which heightened participant’s erotic feelings for each other. Secrecy releases phenylethylamine (PEA) which is the same chemical released during the early stages of infatuation. PEA also keeps us up all night and suppresses our appetites. PEA raises blood pressure, increases heart rate and `is evidenced in thrill seekers. The same buzz comes from chocolate but care is required not to consume as too much of the stuff otherwise the opposite effect occurs. I expect everyone is familiar with the act of flirting or sharing a surreptitious intimacy called footsie or footsie - footsie. This kind of intimate touching of the feet or leg under the table has been known since the Middle Ages but perhaps never better described better than in Dianne Brill’s book Boobs, ‘Boobs, boys and high heels.’ According to the fashion doyenne, there are six ways you can enjoy close encounters of the footsie kind. Apparently there are several moves involved starting with the toe nudge followed by delicate investigation up under the trouser hem. The less direct method is to rest your foot against your partner but alternate between removing the pressure and pushing again. This needs to be done in a spontaneous manner so the recipient is unsure if the contact is intentional or otherwise. Leg crossing and toying with the shoe are other forms of footsie but a high degree of dexterity is required in this matter, if you are going to be successful. So practice is essential. The origin of the gentle art of foot seduction is unknown although unsolicited foot attention is well documented in many cultures. The ancients for example had a preoccupation with feet as ‘object sensual’ with many Roman generals taking their lover’s sandal as keepsakes into battle. Why feet and shoes should be thought sexy in this way is complex but likely to involve a phenomenon known as the Displacement Theory. Simply put this describes what took place after we started to cover up our wobbly bits. Unable to see genitalia because it was covered meant greater significance was placed on clothing as an indication of gender. As part of this process hair and hats; feet an[...]

Slippers for St Valentine's Day


At a loss what to get for you paramour this Valentine’s Day? Then you might like to think slippers. Oh we have heard all the nonsense about sexy heels and the like but a quick review of the history of the humble slipper will leave you blushing. Slippers were always house-shoes and to tell the truth, the footwear of the boudoir. The term slipper was first recorded in English in 1478 and described a slip-on shoe that barely covered the foot and was worn for ease. Now there are many different varieties including backless slip-ons; boudoir slippers which were like mules sometimes with a heel; carpet slippers – a house-shoe made of carpet type material; and fuzzies – a slipper lined with fleece or shearling. Throughout history slippers were associated with wealth, prestige and intimacy. In Dutch, the word slipper is used in its diminutive form 'slippertje' and denotes an amorous affair which a married person 'slips' into. Slippers cause shuffling which makes the old gluteal muscles wobble – very sexy. In ancient Asian and Oriental Cultures taking off their shoes was a condition of crossing the threshold of a dwelling, donning slippers became a social custom. Then there were two styles of slipper: one had a small toe post which fitted between the first and second toes; and the another had cross-shaped leather upper (similar to a mule). In some provinces the slippers were red. European slippers were made from sumptuous materials such as tapestry, soft leather or velvet. By the 16th century ladies and men’s’ slippers were worn either as small platforms or with heels. The more flimsy the slipper and sumptuous its make up indicated breeding and wealth. Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) had a wardrobe full of precious slippers (500) most of which were only ever worn once. By the nineteenth century tissue thin kid or luxurious dress silk slippers were worn to grand balls by the aristocracy and became the precursor of modern dancing shoes. During the La Belle Epoque, Parisian aristocrats would sip champagne from a lady’s slipper – very sexy. The Albert Slipper was the preferred footwear of Victorian gentlemen and typified by Sherlock Holmes. The backs of the slippers were closed and made from light bright coloured leathers. These were associated with smoking which was a preoccupation at the time. The typical Albert slipper was a velvet slipper with plain leather sole and quilted silk lining. This may be worn with a smoking jacket or black tie. The Scots’ word for shuffle is ‘bachle,’ and was often used in a derogatory sense to describe ‘the underclass.’ When slippers became passé and were seen to be worn by the lower classes (usually because that was all they could afford) slippers in Scotland were called "baffies." This is a term thought to derive from ‘bachle,’ and rather like Ugg boots in Oz, slippers were condemned back to the house where they remain to this day. None the less ever since the Emperor Constantine presented a pair of embroidered purple slippers to Pope Sylvester (4th century AD) flat soled slippers of brocade silk or velvet has long been the preferred foot attire of the Episcopal hierarchy. The present Pontiff, Pope Francis broke tradition and wore black shoes instead of the ancient practice of wearing red shoes. His predecessor Pope Benedict brought back age-old Vatican customs and wore red shoes to commemorate blood of martyrdom. Since the 16th century, slippers were handmade in red satin and embroidered in gold thread. Benedict wore ruby-red shoes custom-made by Antonio Arellano, his personal cobbler at Gammarelli and another pair by Adriano Stefanelli. Pope John Paul II also discontinued tradition when he wore cordovan brown leather loafers from his native Poland. Footnote So, if you are to romance inclined this Valentine’s Day, think feet and think slippers[...]

Cinderella (Aschenputtel) - Lotte Reiniger (1922)


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The walking machine


The “walking machine” tested wear on shoes (1937).

This Valentine's Day don't you be swept off your feet


A traditional besom broom consisted of an ash stave with bristles made from birch twigs and tied on with thin pieces of willow wood. Symbolically the stave (or handle) was masculine and the brush or broom (the faggot), feminine. There is reference to the Beson Broom in the Bible : ‘… I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.'– Isaiah 14:23 (KJV translation) In pagan belief the Beson Broom represents purification, protection, fertility and prosperity and were ritualistically used to sweep harmful energies away before a rite could be performed. Handfasting, predates the Christian marriage ceremony, and was an old marriage ritual where the couple’s hands were generally bound together with a cord. The idiom “tied the knot” comes from this tradition which was still practised in some parts of Scotland and Wales, within living memory. Symbolically the person overseeing the ritual i.e. the high priestess, used the beson broom to sweep away evil prior to the ceremony. In the past handfasting was the binding of two lovers and not marriage for life. Handfasting ceremonies were frequently renewed usually at a year and a day intervals. This may account for the declaration of love we see today, in Valentine’s Day. A beson wedding (or civil wedding) involved the couple jumping over a broomstick for good luck. In front of witnesses the man would jump the broom first, followed by his intended bride. Provided the jumps were clean and either party did not touch or knock the beson broom then the marriage was recognised and the offspring were legitimate. This kind of marriage was a partnership between spouses and the woman kept her own home and did not become the property (a shackle) of her husband. If the couple decided to divorce, they simply jumped back over the broomstick again, but this could only be done in the first year of marriage. In the home of superstitious people, an upward pointed besom (bristles up) sat over or near a doorway, to keep evil spirits and negative energies away for the house The Idiom ‘swept (a person) off their feet’ is used to describe someone so infatuated with another as to be effortlessly carried along unquestionably with their object of affection. "To sweep," in this case, is likely to refer to a broom and its action to inexorably move things together and if a metaphorical broom sweeps you off your feet, then you have completely lost your balance (reality) and fall for someone or something (infatuation). By the same token the person may have become bewitched. There are many associations between the bosum broom and witchcraft and in Ireland, the besom was called a "Faery's Horse". Witches riding broomsticks may have had its origins in ancient fertility rites when to encourage the crops to grow high, people would jump high in the air on brooms. It is recorded the leaping witches smeared their bodies, hands and feet with “flying ointments” made from psychoactive drugs i.e. a base of either atropa belladonna or Mandragora officinarum. Sometimes the broom was ridden with the faggot (brush) facing downward or reversed. When not used for ritual flying the beson broom ever present in the household may also have been used as a sex toy as many accused witches were spinsters or widows. By the Middle Ages the beson broom had become a symbol of anti-establishmentarianism and sensuality. This is evidenced by the word 'besom' (bissum) becoming a slang term for an easy woman or hussy. 'Bissum' was also a common Scottish noun used to describe ‘mischieviously playful little girls.’ [...]

The origins of St Valentine's Day


There was almost certainly more than one Christian martyr by the name Valentine and all were beatified. Estimates vary between three and nineteen with many of their biographies and cults sharing a number of common elements. Experts believe two vie as ‘the’ Saint Valentine celebrated on 14 February. One was a bishop from the central Italian city of Terni and the other a holy priest in Rome. The earliest martyrology describes the bishop from Terni who went to Rome to heal a crippled boy. When he refused to worship idols he was arrested by the prefect Placidus and eventually decapitated. Scholars generally agreed that the Roman Valentine was likely to be the real origin of the day’s festival. According to Lasance, St. Valentine was a holy priest in Rome who assisted martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II (210 – 270) Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel experienced difficulty getting soldiers to join his military leagues and was suspicious young roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. The emperor cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Like other Christian priests, Valentine secretly married couples, and for this he was condemned to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. This Valentine was a priest and probably a physician and whilst in prison he restored the sight to his jailer’s daughter and was instrumental in converting her father to Christianity. A final gesture of affection for the jailor’s daughter was shown when Valentine left a farewell note signed it "From Your Valentine". Although there is evidence both Valentines enjoyed cult status with basilicas built in their memory and their relics reported to be found as far afield as Dublin and Glasgow it was Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. who set aside February 14th to honour St. Valentine. There are several theories about the origin of Valentine's Day. Romans had a mid-February custom to honor Februata Juno a sex and fertility goddess. It was called Festival of Lupercalcia. Boys and girls were traditionally brought up apart but on the 14th February their names were written on paper and put into jars. Young men chose a partner by drawing out the slip of paper with the girl's name. They would stay together for the duration of the festival. Sometimes the pairing lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry. To suppress the pagan association, Christians may have substituted St Valentine as the focus for the day. To disassociate with the past religions many Christians are thought to replace this old cult with one that was identifiably Christian, resulting in a feast with obvious ties to the celebration of love. In the Northern Hemisphere birds begin to pair by February and it was established in folklore the 14th February was critical for partnership in medieval France lovers would express their feelings on St Valentine’s Day. The earliest Valentine was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. By 1477 the English celebrated the feast of Valentine. The day started with men and women writing love letters to their Valentine. Literacy was poor so it may have been a love tokens were exchanged instead. The old Roman of selecting a partner for the day was upheld in the Middle Ages, and young men and women wore their partner’s name on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling. In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts. Hearts, keys and keyho[...]

A potted history of designer trainers


People in the 19th century loved trains and when a five working day week became norm, urban families clambered to visit the seaside particularly in the summertime. Working boots were discarded as day trippers wanted to shoes walk through the sand. Sand shoes were lightweight canvas topped rubber soled shoes and thanks to vulcanisation of rubber were cheap, flimsy and usually wore out after a day’s wear. To reinforce the shoe a thin, flat rubber band was wrapped around the shoe and because this looked like a plimsoll line, they were called plimsolls and usually painted white. The significance of the colour was form a distance they could resemble white croquet shoes (made from kangaroo skin) and worn by the well to do. White plimsolls became a fashion icon of the younger working class and promenaders keen to look their best wore them with flannels and a Madras jackets. The simple plimsoll evolved into many other forms including the tennis shoe where sole patterns were added to improve grip; and in the US the high top shoe was worn to protect the ankle in games like basketball and baseball. In the US at the turn of the 20th century Converse introduced the high top Converse All Stars (or Chucks - named after Chuck Taylor a famous 30s basketball player). During the wars servicemen were issued with canvas topped rubbers for exercise and most took them home as souvenirs. Soon their older kids were wearing them to dance to quick tempo dance music of Swing and Jive. By the end of the thirties an Australian called Adrian Quist was a tennis champion and realized ground traction was the secret to better foot control on grass surfaces. Eventually he convinced the Dunlop Rubber Company to include tread patterns on their tennis shoes and Dunlop Volleys were born. Younger children wore gym shoes when the schools’ curriculum started to include compulsory physical exercise. The appeal of American sneakers was confirmed when James Dean and Elvis Presley were photographed wearing low cut canvas topped rubber soled shoes. Chucks and Keds became a by-word for teenage rebellion. Today the big footwear companies target inner city youth Afro-American, Hispanic and Asians demographics. Promotions rely heavily on “cultural influencers,” like bold colours and logos to appeal to cultural sensitivities in “ethnic pride.” Commodifying ethnicity is a deliberate marketing strategy to attract new and brand loyal consumers among inner city, low socio-economic groups. High priced designer trainers have obvious appeal to street gangs keep expressing their individualism and sartoria. US street gangs like LA Crips and Bloods wear specific designer trainers as part of their uniform. Preferred brands are those worn by popular hip hop gangsters and rap artists. Colours play an important role in gang clothing i.e. blue in Crips’ and red for Bloods. As a result many leading sport shoe companies deliberately court the patronage of popular rappers and some continue to make reference to gang behaviours in their lyrics or videos. Probably the most obvious and up front example is in Michael Jackson's Extended Music Video, “The way you make me feel “. The video starts with the Crip Walk and Michael Jackson is wearing a blue shirt. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Some shoe companies have had to distance themselves from affinity with street culture by renaming some of their shoe lines such as adidas did with their 'Hemp" range, which was renamed “Gazelle natural, after public outrage. Also things like ‘stash pockets’ feature less in shoe design. Many high schools and uni[...]

Shoe-In: #91 One Big Fashion Footwear in Focus Segment with Jasmine Pendergrass


Jasmine Pendergrass takes charge as this entire episode is one big Fashion Footwear in Focus segment. Listen in as Matt, Andy, and Jasmine explore the importance of celebrity, red carpets, and influencers on footwear fashion. She also explores expected footwear trends for 2018, like ugly dad shoes.

Zeng Fanzhi


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Dancing shoes for men are back in fashion.


It seems both high heels and ballet flats (a slip on shoe with a small thin heel or no heel at all) are back in fashion for men. Height challenged males might revel at the prospect of the former but not perhaps at the latter. Ballet flats represent the antithesis of the four wheel drive shoes. That is shoes you could climb the Eiger with, but are more likely seen perambulating through the downtown shopping mall. Real men prefer espadrilles and sneakers, i.e. chic and comfortable footwear. What has added interest (for me), as a shoe watcher, is both high and low styles share the limelight at the same time – a rare event in fashion. Zeitgeist (or sign of the times) necessitates we look at current events for an explanation. Alpha males appear to want to move adeptly as well as present themselves as trim and toned. Ballet flats resemble the dancing pumps or “pompes” of the 16th and 17th centuries when dancing became all the range and no self respecting crown head was without their own ballroom. Then, as now best finery was the order of the day and dandy noblemen wore special ballroom slippers. Emporer Napoleon's legacy to cultured Europe was dress balls and as the popularity of dancing swept through the civilized world. When new dance steps got faster women started to wear dance slippers every bit as delicate as modern ballet shoes. Men of the late 18th century wore the latest fashion, high boots and their dress slippers were eventually confined to the bedroom along with their pipe. The renaissance in fashions for dancing shoes is likely to mirror the immensely popular dancing TV programs watched by millions throughout the world. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>[...]

Chiropody - What's in a name?


The greatest mystery of the foot world is not, how do foot orthoses work; or can corns be cured; but how do you pronounce the word chiropody ?. Is it shirr-opody, chirr-opody, k-ropody or kye-ropody? People seem to gain impish delight from wrapping their tongues around their dentures as they spit out the vowels from this four syllable conundrum. Even a century after the term was put to rest with the adoption of podiatry (treater of the feet), no foot physician is immune from this verbal assault. Chiropody first entered the English language in the 18th century, when a corn operator by the name of David Low wrote the definitive text on care of the feet. Low practiced in Davis Street, London and to save his valuable time, plagiarizing L'Art de Soigner les Pieds (1781), a popular treatise on corn cutting, written by Nicholas Laurent Lafrost. To avoid detection Low translated the script and renamed the works Chiropodologia. Unfortunately for semantic purists he made a fatal error by combining both Greek and Latin prefixes. Chiro is a Greek prefix meaning hand and foot; and Pod the Latin prefix for foot. No one is really sure whether the new study was treatment of the hand by the foot or vice versa. Most scholars have accepted Lowe intended to promote care of the foot by the hand. 'Ch' is written as an x in Greek and pronounced with a silent ‘h’. So if it is all Greek to you so far, the word should be pronounced ‘iropodist’. X when translated to English is becomes a harsh sounding K. The proper and correct pronunciation is therefore 'kiropodist'. We witness the same translation in Xmas which is not a modern abbreviation for the convenience of greetings card manufacturers but instead a celebration of K mass, i.e. the mass of Christ. During the Depression chiropody and chiropody services within the United Kingdom became very popular and establishment (free foot hospitals) were patronised by the Royal Family. On a visit to the Edinburgh School of Chiropody and Foot Clinic, the royal researchers were concerned at the origins of chiropody, and set to out find an alternative (more respectable) derivation. Chiron was a Greek God a centaur, half man half horse. He was a tutor to many Greek heroes and taught Asclepius his medical arts. Chiron lived as recluse at the bottom of Mount Pelion, and dedicated his life to caring for the crippled. However, after his half-brother Pholus was killed by Heracles, Chiron was wounded by a stray arrow. His wounds were painful and he agreed to exchange his immortality with Prometheus so he could die peacefully. Zeus was impressed by the centaur's modesty and immortalized him for his dedication. Chiron became Sagittarius and is now a bright light constellation that illuminates all. Now just in case like me, you think Astrology is a lot of corn, you probably know a lot more about 'chiropdy (aka podiatry) than I ever can explain. Whatever happened to David Low? Well the clever chap went onto the hospitality industry and is thought to have introduced the modern hotel to rural England where all of us are grateful to rest our weary feet from time to time. References McDonald M 1996 Star myth: tales of the constellations New York: Friedman Group 83-85.Runting EGV 1932 Some phrases of chiropody in Great Britain Chiropody Jottings London Faber & Faber 204-214. Reviewed 16/04/2016[...]

CPR for diabetic feet


The Patten has made a fashion comeback


Recently at the F/W 2018 collection , Paris Men’s Fashion Week, Chinese imprint SANKUANZ, had plastic "shoes for shoes" modelled on the catwalk. The reintroduction of the patten was driven by fashionistas keen to wear A-list sneakers outside but equally concerned at keeping the blue-chip trainers in pristine condition.

Pattens has been around for centuries and were first worn nobility to protect the their expensive poulaines in the 11th century.

Platform like slip-over shoe protectors were used as outside shoes and were made from wood or metal to protect the encased and more delicate shoes from wet and muddy ground. Pattens were left outside. These were widely used between the 16th and 18th centuries.

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Evolution of the soccer boot


Football boots emerged as an essential part of the sport. Contemporary pictures of amateur teams (circa 1870) display a mixed bunch of rugged work boots. Not until the last decade of the century do teams appear to wear the same boots. The only regulation governing boots relates to anything that may endanger their opponents. Rule 13#: No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots. Newspaper reports indicate the weather in the winter of 1870/71 was severe and extreme. Heavy rain accompanied by high winds with severe frosts and snow did not deter the new game from being played. Flooding frequently arose followed by an unusual hot summer which pioneering players took in their stride but boots and ball got progressively heavier as wet conditions prevailed. Clothing was restrictive and worn for protection from the elements as much as decency. Early British football was very slow and not yet a spectators' spectacle. The game was considered more for participants and the general public was not actively encouraged to attend. Despite this the popularity of football grew and clubs began to spring up across the UK. Early photographs are testament to the availability of stout footwear (Denvir, 1979). Players wore long laced boots, similar to engineer's boots but with a strengthened toecap in iron hard leather. In 1880 boots began to incorporate a strap, narrow on the inside of the foot, which crossed over the bottom two or three rows of eyelet's, winding to the outside of the foot. This gave greater protection to the toes as players used the dorsum of the foot to kick. Today, players use the side of their foot to strike the ball but then the toe was used to catch the ball and give it lift. To increase ground grip the soles incorporated metal tacks but Rule 13 prevented these in official matches. They were replaced in 1890 with new plugs made from layers of leather and the idea came from hockey boots. Studs (sometimes referred to as cleats) were positioned to avoid isolated pressure points and unnecessary irritation of the foot. In the area of the hindfoot they were located towards the outside of the sole to avoid buckling. The common formation was six studs, two distal and proximal to the metatarsal heads and two on the posterior aspect of the heel. By 1900 the soccer boot was a recognisable entity and not just modified footwear adopted from other sports. The Shurekik Boota was made from russet calf with fluted toecap and sold in 1901 for a cost 8/6d ($1.26A). In 1925, makers began to include removable studs to the boot design. To complete leg protection shin guards cost between 1/6d (22c Aus) and 2/11d (45c Aus); and football hose varied between 1/11d (30c Aus) and 4/11d (75c Aus). Professional players received 2/6 (37c. Aus) per game and some were paid special bonuses in addition depending on their skill. The sum varied according to the size of the crowd but even the best players seldom got bonuses over 2/11 (45c Aus). Boots cost three times that amount. According to Morris (1981) 'baggy shorts and heavy boots" style remained the dominant costume theme, right up to the Second World War. Most authorities agree changes to football boots took place after the war when there was a dramatic increase in international fixtures. This was made possible by improved air travel and transcontinental travel brought soccer players from the colder climes of Europe into contact with their counter parts in the Mediterranean and South America. Warmer climates mea[...]

The Shoe-In Show


Join hosts Matt Priest and Andy Polk each week for an in-depth and dynamic conversations about the business of footwear. Most entertaining Show -In Show

#90 Exploring the Amazing Bata Shoe Museum with Elizabeth Semmelhack

Peter Norman and Cathie Freeman : Barefoot Protest


The Mexico City Olympics were staged against a surreal and tumultuous 1968. Social change and general unrest at the continuation of the Vietnam War and race riots and student protests formed a tragic backdrop for the assassinations of Malcom X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. A planned boycott by black athletes failed but the atmosphere was charged with protest as the Games were televised and broadcast live to the US. The Black athletes were determined to show solidarity and wore no shoes around the Village and when Tommie Smith (Gold) and John Carlos (Bronze) took their place on the winner's podium with Australian, Peter Norman (silver) for the 200m. Smith and Carlos, closed their eyes, bowed their heads, before raising a black-gloved fist during the playing of the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' The raised fist and glove referred to defiance in the weight of racial servitude and the shoeless stance was a symbol of humanity and statement of poverty. Smith wore a scarf around his neck as mark of 'Black Pride'. The dignified brave barefoot protest was met with outrage from officialdom and Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Olympics. Both athletes kept their socks on. To this day the simple action of two barefoot men has become an iconic milestone in the history of civil rights. Muhammad Ali described it as 'the single most courageous act of the century'. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="344" src="" width="459"> On the way to the winner’s podium Carlos realized he had left his gloves in the Olympic Village. Peter Norman, suggested Carlos wear Smith's left-handed glove, this being the reason behind him raising his left hand. In the years immediately following the Games Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the U.S. sporting establishment. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> When Peter Norman was asked about his support for the Smith and Carlos' cause, he replied he was protesting against the Australian government's White Australia policy. Norman's actions resulted in a reprimand and his absence from the following Olympic Games in Munich (despite easily making the qualifying time). Years later at the Sydney Olympics 2000 he was not given an invitation to join other Australian medallists at the opening ceremony. Smith and Carlos acted as pallbearers at Peter's funeral in 2006. On September 25, 2000, Day ten of the XXVII Olympiad, the Australian athlete Cathy Freeman captured the hearts of the biggest crowd ever to attend an athletics event when, after winning gold in the 400m performed her lap of honour, barefoot. She carried with her both Aboriginal and Australian flags to thunderous applause. Cathy walked barefoot to the edge of the stands where she tossed the two-sided flag into the adoring crowd. Previously the Aboriginal athlete had been criticised by officials at 1994 Commonwealth Games, when she took her victory lap, carrying both the Aboriginal and Australian flags. The theme of the Sydney Olympics was Reconciliation and Cathy became an indelible Australian hero. SALUTE chronicles Peter Norman's involvement in the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> [...]

Soccer in Valenki Boots


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Footbeat - Welcome To Your Recovery


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From Greaves to Spats : A potted history of leggings


In antiquity, soldiers wore a piece of armour called greaves (Old French greve "shin, shin armour" and from the Arabic jaurab, meaning stocking), to protect their shins. The vulnerability of the tibia and fibula meant warriors required extra protection and greaves had a metal exterior with an inner padding of felt. The felt padding was important because, without it, any blow would transfer directly from the metal plating to the shin, rendering it useless. Military greaves (Demi greaves) disappeared circa the ninth century, only to reappeared in the second quarter of the thirteenth century. In the fourteen centuries, many soldiers wore “closed greaves”, to protect their entire leg. Closed greaves were made of two plates joined on the outside by hinges and fastened with buckles and straps on the inside. In eleventh century Japan, warriors wore suneate, (three plates of metal covering the shin). Later during the Muromachi period (1334 – 1572), suneate became a splint mounted on a piece of fabric with mail in between the metal splint and fabric, termed shino-suneate. Most suneate contained leather padding on the interior to reduce the impact of blows and to reduce chafing. Church of England bishops and archdeacons wore Clerical gaiters until the middle part of the twentieth century. The vesture was practical, since many of the higher clergy rode horses to various parts of a diocese or archdeaconry. In latter years, the clothing took on a more symbolic dimension. Clerical gaiters were made of black cotton, wool, or silk, and buttoned up the sides, reaching to just below the knee where they would join with black breeches. By the 1700s several European nations had made gaiters a part of their military uniform. Gaiters were also called spatterdash because they protected their wearer from spatters and dashes of muddy water in the street. The military continued to protect the lower leg with leggings to keep dirt, sand, and mud from entering footwear, and to provide a measure of ankle support. The infantry of various nations, wore them, including The Zouave infantry regiments, They wore jambieres (derived from the French word jambe for legs, hence leggings) as part of their uniform and Indian soldiers, wore Patti (Hindu name for a bandage or roll of cloth). The British and US troops in the First World War wore puttee or wide bandage leggings to protect their shoes, hose, pant leg from mud splashes. The French infantry wore white spats for parade and off-duty wear until 1903. Italian soldiers wore a light tan version until 1910 and the Japanese Army wore long white spats or gaiters during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. For Highland regiments in kilts, spats reached halfway up the calf and for the Lowland regiments in trews, spats were visible only over the brogue shoes. Spats continue as a distinctive feature of the Scottish dress of Highland pipe bands, whether civilian or military. Most regiments of the modern Indian and Pakistani Armies wear long white spats into which trousers are tucked, as part of their parade dress. Spats are still used as a traditional accessory in many marching band and drum and bugle corps uniforms in the United States. As women’s dresses failed to protect delicate shoes and fragile stockings from mud and water splashes; and breaches gave no protection whatsoever. Spats, remained popular for both men and women for sev[...]