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Women's Slippers, about 1800


Slippers first acquired ribbons in the 1790s in imitation of the classical sandal; pictures of them around 1800 show elaborate methods for tying them around the leg. Acknowledging their origin as a blend of slipper and sandal, the Lady's Magazine of January 1802 called them "sandal slippers" and reported that they were worn "in the morning by the pedestrian fashionables." At this early date, neither the pattern of lacing nor the presence of ribbon ties was the standard. Some surviving examples, such as this pair, have small tape loops sewn at intervals along both sides just inside the top edge through which the ribbon tie was threaded, allowing it to criss-cross several times over the instep before passing around the ankle. What was to become the standard arrangement, a pair of ribbon ties attached near the side seams, then crossed and tied around the ankles, only took firm hold in the mid-1800s. These ribbon ties must very often have come untied from the brushing of the petticoats widely worn at the time. Source: Women's Shoes in America, 1795-1930. Nancy E. Rexford. Kent State University Press. Kent, Ohio, 2000.

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