Australian Boys' Garments: Footwear

Figure 1.--Here we see a family snapshot of an Australian boy at home wearing what look like a similar style to British school sandals. He looks to be a pre-school boy. Sandals were not, however, nearly as popular in Australia as in Britain.

Footwear is not a topic that HBC has been able to address yet to any great extent. We note that going barefoot appears to have been very prevalent in Australia. Fashion were strongly affected by Britain, but we do not see many boys wearing sandals. We have received some comments from readers.

Infant Footwear

An Australian reader writes, "I wanted to know if you knew what say a 1 yr old boy would wear on his feet in the late 1800 to very early 1900's? A friend has a play on at a museum and has asked me to knit to some offwhite colored bootees but I have searched high and low on the internet and can't find any info on what infants wore on their feet." [Wells] ere who and where has to be considerd. Dress styles varied by social class. Also the occassio would be a factor. As well as the country. While HBC has not addressed infant clothing to any great extent, my guess is that a lot of small Australian children went barefoot at the turn of the 20th century. This would be especially true for working class childre, probably affected somewhat by the eason depending on where they lived in Australia. More affluent 1-3 children probablt would have been likely to wear strap shoes--especially children from more affluent families or for special occasions. I'm sure knitted booties were worn by infants, but that probably would be infants at home.


Australian boys in the 19th century and early 20th century commonly went barefoot. The major reason was probably the cost of shoes, but the practice continued even as economic conditions improved. The climate was much more amenable to going barefoot than in England itself. Even today in Australia and more so in New Zealand it is common for boys and girls to go barefoot. An Australian HBC reader tells us that the tendency of Australian boys to go barefoot is commonly illustrated in Australian movies like "Simley Get's a Gun".



Australian fashions, as the country was a British colony, were significanly influenced by Britain. Given the popularity of sandals in Britain, one would have thought tht sandals would have also been popular in Australia. The Australian climatre is after all much more condusive for sandals than cold and rainy Britain. In fact, sandals were never very popuklar in Australia. We see some younger boys wearing them, but they were never widely worn. We are not entirely sure why. Probably one factor was that so msny children went barefoot tht sandals were not really needed.


Wells, Yvette. E-mail message, October 29, 2002.


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Crerated: October 29, 2002
Last updated: 8:58 AM 10/8/2010