Thursday, November 26, 2020

A brief history of parti clothing and shoes

(jacket resembling a huke 14/15th c Image via pinterest )

Parti-clothing or mi-parti fashion describes a method of decoration where one half or one quarter of a garment was made in one colour and pattern and the other or others in a different hue. The fashion first appeared in the 12th century Europe and became a fashion zenith into the 15th century. Commonly worn by either sex, from ladies’ gowns to men’s tunics, hoods and cloaks, were all made in parti-colours, but it was masculine hose which were most often treated in this way. Described by Lewandowski (2011), these were divided vertically down centre back and front and sometimes quartered at the knee which according to Yarwwod (1981), highlighted accent and distinction to a well-turned leg.

(Three Leopards Image via The Heraldry Society )

Parti-coloured garments were thought to have became popular with the rise of heraldy . Among the titled the display of a coat of arms became popular according to Wilcox (1969). Costumes were divided into variegated colours displaying the family coat-of-arms, stamped in gold and silver leaf and coloured enamels. When these families intermarried their colours and coats of arms were conjoined. These costumes were passed down the family and valued as historic dress. Parti-coloured garments soon became a wider fashion trend.

(!4th C Irish particolored clothes Image via pinterest )

During the late Middle Ages, European clothing began to evolve into fashion. No longer just costume with styles that varied little over time, the cut, shape, style, and decoration of clothing changed at a much faster pace. Fourteenth century, hose or chausses covered men’s legs were made of wool and generally brightly coloured. Wool fabrics were available in a wide range of qualities, from rough undyed cloth to fine, dense broadcloth with a velvety nap. High-value broadcloth was a backbone of the English economy and was exported throughout Europe. Wool fabrics were dyed in rich colours, notably reds, greens, golds, and blues.

( drop spindle and distaff Image via

After the spinning wheel replaced the drop spindle and distaff (a hand held spindle), the horizontal loom with foot treadles and shuttle simplified the production of textiles and clothing. Attractive clothing became more available and affordable and the emerging middle class began to emulate the styles of the elite. Improved tailoring techniques allowed hose to get longer, and by the last quarter of the fourteenth century the two separate legs of hose reached the waist and were joined into one garment, similar to what we today call tights. Some had leather soles and could be worn without shoes. At first, full length leg coverings were made of two separate pieces tied with laces called points to the breech belt, or to the breeches themselves, or even a doublet (a short, close-fitting jacket). Chausses were usually seamed up the back and closed over the crotch with an overlapping panel or a codpiece. As shorter clothes for men became vogue, chausse were made as a single garment similar to modern tights. Often the parti-coloured hose were matched with different colour shoes. In fourteenth century, red and blue were especially popular colour combination clothing.

(Colourful and Unique Period Hose Image via pinterest )

The techniques of Italian tailoring allowed full-length parti-coloured hose to be cut in woven fabrics in separate panels. Using curved seems the leggings coul fit tightly to the leg and lower torso. Closer fit over the body became the fashion and well-fitted hose were an important fashion item for men of the gentry and nobility. As men's legs and leg coverings became more prominent, parti-colour hose were worn without the corresponding top, so the colour split was contained to just the legs,and each leg was a different colour. Various trends in colour and patterning were seen in men's hose throughout each period of their predominance. In fourteenth century, red and blue were especially popular colour combination clothing. The fabulous clothing once restricted to royalty now became available and affordable for the merchant class and a new upwardly mobile urban middle class. Fashions of the Late Middle Ages were influenced by the Gothic style, a look that accentuated slenderness and an elongated form for both men and women.

(Poulaines Image via pinterest )

The fashion for long toed shoes (poulaines) became an obsession for men in the Middle Ages. Over this period in European courts the size of men's shoes got longer and longer until they were 24 inches longer than the foot.

(Pattens 15th century Image via pinterest )

By the late 14th century wooden or cork overshoes (pattens) fastened to the foot with leather cross straps and were worn to protect the foot segments of chausses. Fashionable courtiers could wear their peaked pattens at the height of fashion and protect their fine leggings

(The Court Jester Image via pinterest )

At first court jesters relied on elaborate skills such as singing, music, magic and storytelling to earn their place in the court. Then towards the end of the Medieval period when parti clothing became less fashionable, jesters frequently wore a coat made from motley colours, usually bright and patterned irregularly. Under this coat, they wore tight breeches often with one leg coloured differently from the other leg. Whether this was to lampoon parti clothing which had become passe, no one knows. The site of a fool dressed in gaudy clothes, using mismatched colour schemes and different comical embellishments gave instant amusement .

Fashion for parti coloured clothing fell into abeyance for centuries. Disdain for parti-clothing was reflected in the uniforms of 18th century convicts in Western Australia.

(Which Shoes to wear with Seersucker Image via pinterest)

Then in 1906, Spalding a sports company introduced Saddle shoes (saddle oxfords) which included different colours segments. Originally the white soles had black & white uppers and became popular among young Americans for leisure wear. The overlaying saddle gave additional strength over the flexor surface of the shoes where the point of greatest stress occurs. These were quickly adapted to popular sports and many private schools adopted saddle shoes as part of their school uniforms with the shoe colour selected to match with school colours.

(Prince of Wales golfing 1932 Image via Worthpoint)

Contemporary with Saddle Shoes were spectators (two tone brogues), initially worn for golf then later in the Jazz Age.

(The Hampton Spectator Image via pinterest)

Spectators became fashionable dance shoes for both men and women. With greater acceptance of black musicians, fans of jazz supported racial harmony by wearing two-tone footwear. The fashion reached its zenith in the thirties.

(Colour Block Mini Image via pinterest)

In the 1960s, Mod designer like Mary Quant reintroduced two tone into her outfits with mini dresses in vintage block colour patterns. Always looking to develop new ideas, she wanted matching leg coverings to enable women to dance, run and move.

(Mary Quant tights and shoes V&A Image via pinterest)

The recent introduction of tights inspired the designer to partner with the Nylon Hosiery Company, They had developed a technique of making long stockings which joined together at the top, and were specially dyed to contrast and co-ordinate with Mary Quant separates.

(Video Courtesy: sunryse111 by Youtube Channel )

For a brief period in 1966 parti-clothing popped up again when pop stars Dave Dee , Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich adopted mi parti fashion for their on stage gear. The peacock fashion fab did not last

(Odd Shoes Image via Well Made Clothes)

More recently some attempts were unsuccessfully made to reprise parti coloured fashion on the cat walk with the appearance of different coloured shoes. However, the novelty failed to catch public attention.

Lewandowski, E J. 2011 The Complete Costume Dictionary. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press
Wilcox, R. T. 1969 The Dictionary of Costume Charles Scribner's Sons
Yarwood, D. 1981 Costume of the Western World: Pictorial Guide and Glossary New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Shoes (1916) - Cena

(Video Courtesy: Diogo FX on TV by Youtube Channel )

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Peace, Love and Odd Socks : Ringo Starr

( Peace, Love and Odd Socks Image via twitter )

Peace, Love and Odd Socks Ringo is seen supporting #OddSocksDay to celebrate individuality and Unite Against Bullying

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Monday, November 09, 2020

Colonial America: The price of shoes and Sunday Best.

(Colonial America Image via

At first, quality footwear was imported from England during early Colonial times . according to Allen (1916), the price of leather was high and the absence of skilled shoemakers within the colonies meant little use was made of the hides of the abundant native wildlife. England saw its colonies as a great market for finished goods, while it permitted colonists to export only raw materials and thereby safeguard the home based leather and shoe industry. Matters concerning the colonies were primarily dealt by the Privy Council of England and its committees. The Commission of Trade was set up in 1625 as the first special body convened to advise on colonial (plantation) questions. From 1696 until the end of the American Revolution, colonial affairs were the responsibility of the Board of Trade in partnership with the relevant secretaries of state, which changed from the Secretary of State for the Southern Department to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1768. Provincial laws with severe penalties were common as England's policy was to export more goods than it imported. Paid for in coin assured gold and silver was kept in kept in the mother country.

(George II coin Image via Quora )

Pennsylvania issued a law in 1720/21 which fixed the maximum price for shoes. This caught selling shoes above the prices fixed by Provincial law or above the rates set from time to time by the mayor, aldermen, and justices of the courts, faced forfeiture. A good pair of men’s shoes was set at not more than; "six shillings and six pence.” ($49 in today’s money or three days labour). Women’s shoes should cost no more than five shillings, ($37 or two days labour ). The cost of children’s shoes would be proportionately less. Footwear could be paid for with money (pounds, shillings, and pence), more often by barter, and sometimes in receipt for labour. Cash in the Colonies, was denominated in pounds, shillings, and pence, but the value of each denomination varied from Colony to Colony. A Massachusetts pound, did not have the same value as a Pennsylvania pound, and all colonial pounds were of less value than the British, pound sterling. C olonists used several overlapping currencies and coins in circulation during the Colonial Era were, most often, of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The prevalence of the Spanish dollar throughout the Colonies, led to the money of the United States being denominated in dollars, rather than pounds.

(shoeless children Image via pinterest)

Cost was prohibitive and the poor or less affluent let their children go barefoot and leather shoes were generally kept for special occasions (Sunday best), and usually only worn in church. Poor Colonial families might walk bare-foot to church carrying their shoes only stopping to put them on before entering the church building. Most faiths regard wearing special dress for worship important. From clergy to congragation special attire was thought to distract thoughts away from everyday activities. For many the discomfort of wearing ill fitting shoes had to be borne stoicly as a mark of faith. For others fine clothing was a mark of standing in the community and success. Ironically youths in Colonial America came to regard going barefoot a mark of general bravado.

(Jerome Image via wikipedia )

(St Clement Image via Communio )

Generally the faihtful considered it important to put some effort into their church attire in the belief God deserved the absolute best. In the Old Testament, God demanded consecration, that is setting the faithful apart by breaking their pattern of daily living. High priests wore sumptuoius clothing (Exodus 28:1-39); and by contrast ordinary priests wore linen clothes designed for “dignity and honour” (Exodus 28:2, 40). By extention the faithful should follw suit and both St Jerome and St Clement badgered the faithful to wear special dress for worship on the pretext the way in which one presented physically before God frequently betrayed an attitude of mind. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, “Guard your steps when you go to church!” (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

Walbert D 2020 The Value of Money in Colonial America A North Caroline History Online Resource

Allen FJ 1916 The shoe industry Tha Vocation Bureau of Boston
Bezanson A, Gray R D, Hussey M 1935 Prices in Colonial Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Press

Friday, November 06, 2020

Colonial shoemakers : Ebenezer Mackintosh (1737– 1816) and Guy Fawkes Night

(Ebenezer Mackintosh Images via Alchetron)

Ebenezer Mackintosh was born in 1737 in Boston to impoverished parents. A shoemaker to trade, Ebenezer Mackintosh enlisted in the militia in 1754. Most Boston shoemakers were lower class with little opportunity to rise in society but in the militia, he became the Captain General of the Liberty Tree , a principal mob leader in Boston riots protesting The Stamp Act .

(Guy Fawkes Images via The New York Times)

Guy Fawkes Day / Pope Night was held on November 5th and became a holiday celebrating independence from foreign military and political intervention in the affairs of the colonies. Pope Night was espcially popular in the seaport towns of New England, and in Boston, became a boisterous occasion for the "lower orders" of society to drink, riot, and make anti-elite protest. In the 1740s, gang violence was well established and residents of different Boston neighbourhoods, exclusively male, battled for the honour of burning the Pope's effigy. Prior to the procession through the streets, rival mobs (North and South) spent weeks building an effigy of the Pope. The processions were organized by an elected local officer with one from the North End and the other from the South End. Rivals fought to capture the others' effigy and the robust rivalry meant fights were common leaving many injuried and some dead. The end of the night saw the burning of the effigies by the victors. During the procession, masked and costumed revelers sometimes stopped at the homes of wealthy threatening to break their windows unless they contributed funds for the festivities. Pope N:ight was permitted only because the anti-papal theme made them acceptable to the ruling class.

(Boston Riots Images via The Miniature Page)

With the passing years, violence escalated and Boston's elites were appalled urging authorities to crack down and The Great and General Court passed legislation in 1753, which prevented "all riotous, tumultuous and disorderly Assemblies" from "carrying pageants and other shews through the streets and lanes of the town of Boston and other towns of this province, abusing and insulting the inhabitants". Authorities were further hampered because many militiamen were themselves among the revellers. The locals were determined to have their fun and subsequent acts had to be were passed.

(Remebering Guy Fawkes Day Images via The New York Times)

In 1764, a young boy was killed on Pope Night when the procession turned into a riot and authorities ordered the militia to destroy both effigies of the pope. after they destroyed the North End mob's pope, Ebenezer Mackintosh, and the Boston's South gang End protected their model. In protest, the two mobs stopped battling each other, and became unified in protest under direction of "General" Ebenezer Mackintosh, who led a single procession with his counterpart, Samuel Swift, leader of the North End.

(The Boston Stamp Act Riots by Edward S. Ellis Images via The Youths’ History of the United States)

In the following year, the Parliament of the Great Britain issued The Stamp Act 1765 which imposed a direct tax on the British colonies in America . The collected taxes were for payment for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War, The Stamp Act was not popular and caused much unrest. Despite petitions being sent to Parliament and the King and protests organised. Mackintosh played a key role in wild events related to the protests and eventual repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766.

(Andrew Oliver Images via Famous Birthdays)

The Sons of Liberty were a leading group of American dissidents led by the Loyal Nine . In 1765, the Loyal Nine had arranged the unification of the North and South End crowds and appointed Ebenezer Mackintosh, as their leader. Ebenezer Mackintosh was a born leader of men, and much respected for his abilities and as reward he was given a gilt uniform and a speaking trumpet for the occasion. He played a key role in other riots and events in the following year related to the protests and eventual repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766. He led a crowd with Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Andrew Oliver captive, to an elm (the Liberty Tree), and forced him to publicly swear he would never act as stamp distributor.

(Sons of Liberty Images via The Daily Journalist)

By the 1769 Riot Act, colonial America had moved towards the American Revolution (1765-1783), and the class rivalries of Pope Night gave way to anti-British sentiment. There is no record of Mackintosh was involved in mobs in the late 1760s and 1770s protesting regulations by Britain. Although most authorities believe he was a Boston Tea Party agitator in 1773. He also spent some time in debtors' prison before leaving Boston in 1774. Ebenezer Mackintosh fought gallantly in the army for a short time before returning to boot making in Haverhill, New Hampshire. The First Capt General of the Sons of Liberty died in 1816 almost forgotten and in somewhat impoverished circumstance.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Bloody Shoes : Shoe test tracks, Sachsenhausen

(Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Image via Berlin Experiences )

Sachsenhausen was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany and used from 1936 to 1945. Those held at Sachsenhausen were considered enemies of the Third Reich, treated harshly, fed sparingly, and killed openly. At least 30,000 inmates died in Sachsenhausen from causes such as exhaustion, disease, malnutrition and pneumonia, as a result of the poor living conditions. The labour camp had a large task force of prisoners sent to work in the nearby factories.

(Schuhfabrik (shoe repair warehouse). Image via USHMM/Kulisiewicz Collection )

Exploitation and inhumane treatment of thousands of forced laborers included being parted from with their shoes and given hard to wear wooden shoes or no shoes at all.

(Prisoner's clog Image via )

The confiscated footwear was sent to the nearby Salamander shoe repair shop There other detainees sorted through thousands of shoes, some were sent for repair before being redistributed to people who had been bombed out, or those resettled in the occupied territories. The remaining footwear was sold to assorted German industrial and agricultural enterprises.

( Shoe testing track Image via )

High demand for civilian clothing combined with war shortages and lack of natural materials like leather, gave high incentive to develop new polymers. Whilst priority was given to the armed services, manufacturers were determined to convince civilian consumers shoes with synthetic soles or shoes made altogether of synthetic material were bona fide. The German shoe industry connived to establish a shoe-testing facility at Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940. The Special Committee on Wehrmacht Footwear for the tests was established and the incarcerated population were inhumanely used to test new shoes on the "shoe test tracks." These were built by a research institute with nine types of surface, including asphalt, cement, cinders, broken stones, gravel and sand. There is evidence companies paid a "user fee” of RM 6 (Reichsmark) per day per prisoner to the Reichsamt für Wirtschaftsausbau (Reich Office for Economic Expansion) for the tests on the “shoe test track”. At first Nazi SS guards forced an undocumented number of prisoners ie Schuhläuferkommando (the shoe-testers commando) to wear new shoes and march about 40 kilometres. In 1944, the SS devised a special torture and made prisoners walk in shoes one or two sizes too small while carrying sacks filled with 20 kilograms of sand. Prisoners had to walk, march, or perform sporting exercises for hours on end, day after day, night after night in summer and winter. To keep awake some were given stimulants to keep walking even with giant blisters on their feet. Merciless guards beat the inmates and forced them to sing songs as they stood in line waiting to join the track. When weakened with exhaustion anyone daring to fall risked being shot by the SS guards and many thousands died whilst others were left crippled for life.

(Salamander Shoes Image via

According to documents from the state authorities in the Federal Archives in Berlin among the better known shoe manufacturers involved were Salamander Shoes , the leading shoe manufacturer during the Reich. Richard Freudenberg claimed his company’s extensive research findings were attained by employees testing shoes at its headquarters in Weinheim. The managers at Salamander managers stoicly denied involvement to the allied forces, claiming only the Wehrmacht commissioned the tests. Records reveal, Salamander was among the first companies to send shoe models to the concentration camp for testing in 1940. After the War, few within the industry admitted to being directly involved, despite findings on shoe design from the inhumane experiments significanlty changing production and a move away from stitiching to using synthetic glues. Despite the denials many other experimental findings found their way into the ealry standard industrial handbooks of the early 50s. Those directly involved were never identified and thought to have made good careers within the industry or its trade bodies. Only one person was ever convicted in connection with the shoe tests and he spent a few years of forced labor in the Soviet Union.

( Memorial plaque "Forced labor at Salamander", in Berlin-Kreuzberg Image via Wikipedia )

Surviving heirs of Freudenberg , shocked by the role played by Richard Freudenberg whose Weinheim-based shoe company tested footwear at the concentration camp, called for financial assistance from shareholders, to develop a fund to help prison camp survivors as well as erect memorials at Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück .

(Factory Roll Call 1942 Image via Continental Magazine )

Many other German companies in addition to Freudenberg, were involved and had their products tested in the Nazi shoe experiments. From makers of the shoe-lasts to companies responsible for developing synthetics and shoe soles all used slave labour to improve footwear for the Wehrmacht during the war. Only now are surviving German companies previously under the influence of the Nazi beginning to come to terms with historic atrocities and make recompense from profiting from during WWII. Through the process of Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung the country is trying to learn from its recent past by admitting these unsavoury events did exist, and attempt to remedy same as far as possible, the wrongs committed in a positive attempt to move froward. A foundation was set up in 2000, to pay compensation to former Nazi forced laborers or their families, in which the German government and industry contributed in equal measure to a more than five billion euro fund.

(Video Courtesy: Continental by Youtube Channel )

Frankle E 2020 Germany’s Continental says it used slave labor to supply Nazis, test shoe soles The Times of Israel
Guenther I Nazi chic? 2004 Fashioning women in the Third Reich Berg Oxford
Jones E C Empty shoes 2001 In Benstock S I and Ferriss S Footnotes on shoes Rutgers University Press NY
Nahshon E 2008 Jews and shoes Berg Oxford
Reid C 2020 German Automotive Giant Continental Admits To Nazi Past Including Concentration Camp Deaths Forbes

Blau J 2014 Bloody Shoes Uneasy History
Continental was “the backbone of the Nazi war economy” Web 24 News 2020
Friedländer V 1983 Man kann nicht eine halbe Jüdin sein Verlag Roter Morgen.
Sudrow A 2010 Der Schuh im Nationalsozialismus: Eine Produktgeschichte im deutsch-britisch-amerikanischen Vergleich Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag
Supplier for Hitler’s War Continental During the Nazi Era Continental Magazine

Interesting Sites
Salamander The Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center in Berlin-Schöneweide