Closed-toe Sandals: Color

Figure 1.-This unidentified portrait is undated. We are not even sure where the photograph was taken. We believe that the photographer was Heath who had studios at Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona. We would guess it was taken in the 1900s, but the early 1910s is also possible. He wears a tunic suit which was called a Russian blouse at the time with white long stockings. The white stockings make it difficuklt to tell, but the boy looks to be wearing double-strap sandals without a center strap.

We have noted many colors of closed-toe sandals. Black, blue, brown, red, and white have been the most common. The blue and brown in particular have come in many different shades. Black is not common for a play shoe, although black is a common color for dress sandals. White has been used for both play and dress sandals. There are a variety of age and gender conventions associated with closed-toe sandals and these have varied among countries and over time. There were lso conventions associated as to whether the sandal was a dress or play shoe. Some of the colors such as black and white can be seteced in early photographs, bur blue, brown, and red are more difficult to assess. Here until the development of color photography we have to turn to catalogs.


We have noted different shades of blue closed-toe sandals. The most common color was a dark blue which war worn as a school sandal. We noted British boys wearing dark blue sandals at some schools, although brown was a much more common color. They were mostly the double strap type with a center strap. We have noticed a few boys wearing light blue sandals, primary the single strap style without a center strap. They were mosly pre-school boys. We noted Prince Williand Harry wearing these sandals in the 1980s.


We see many boys wearing black closed-toe sandals in the late 19th and early 20th century. This was a dress style fr younger boys. It was not worn for play. One of the most popular styles was a double strap wiyhout a center strap. We also see multiple staps. After World War I we only notice the single-bar strap style.


We note different shades of brown. We note tan as well as darker shades like a shoe. We also note some with a redish or oxblood hue. This was an important color for both play and school sandals. Wards in 1914 offered tan "barefoot sandals", a play style. The British school sandal, a "T"-strap sandal, was usually done in a darker brown color. We note these sandals being worn n other European countries, bit they were most in Britain and the color was mostly brown.


Red was normally a color for a play sandal. We believe that they were worn in the inter-war era and after World War II, diring the 1920s-50s. We have seem younger boys wearing a single-strap sandal in red as a kind of informal dress shoe.


White is a color used for both a dress and play sandal. Becuse of the practical problem of maintaining white, it was not as commonly worn as a play shoe. We see white sandals being worn as a dress shoe in the early 20th century. Here a doublee strap style wihout a center bar seems to have been popular. After World War I, the usual tyles we see boys wearing are are the single-bar and double-bar with center strap styles. The double-bar with strap style was sometimes worn for informal dress occassions. We note differences among counties. We see quite a few French boys wearing white sandals, but far fewer boys in England where sandals were also popular. We note a few boys in France wearing white sandals to school.


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Created: 10:56 PM 2/22/2005
Last updated: 10:56 PM 2/22/2005