Friday 14 September 2012

Putting the boot on the other foot

The 2000-year old Birkenstock
We've all heard of 'Roman Sandals', right? But did you know they also wore boots, shoes, high heels and cork soles? Just like us they were fashion conscious, and they weren't about to trudge around the snows of Germany and Scotland in flip flops either. Women's shoes covered the same vast array of choice we see today, with many Roman designs still appearing as 'new' fashion in the 21st-century. But even Roman men had some choice - so today we'll take the guys shopping...

For the up and comers in the world, the Cothurus was the kind of boot for anyone who had enough money to own a horse or a seat in the Senate, ornate and lavishly shaped in leather this was the power shoe of the age. Those who wore them were used to giving orders.

The Cothurus - Power dressing for the man of Rome 

The Gallicae was the work boot of the north. Where it was too cold to have open toes, this was the gift the Gauls gave to the Romans. After ten years of fighting in the north, the Romans were quick to realise the Doc Martin of the classical age was the best choice for the cold and they wore them for the next five hundred years. And the best thing was they didn't look half bad with socks.  

The Gauls greatest invention (apart from trousers, chainmail, Spanish steel, and Roman warfare) - the Gallicae

The sneaker of the age was the Calceus, mostly enclosed, this was the go almost anywhere, do almost anything shoe, you could wear socks with them in the winter or go commando when the sun came out.

The Calceus - every man's sneaker back when Nike was still a goddess

Alternatively there was the Crepida - more open than the Calceus but similar in principle, probably more popular during summer when the sun balms and linen tunics came out of the wardrobe.

The Crepida - the classy sandal
But of course there was always the trusty Caligula we know from every sword and sandal movie that's been on TV. The classical footwear image of the Roman army. Handed out to the legions in their millions, they were cheap and easy to make and could be easily squeezed into a soldier's kit when they were wearing something else.  

The Caligula - for those who like the classical look
Find out if Calvus liked a Jimmy Choo

1 comment:

  1. The soldier sandals were called caligae (sing. caliga).

    "Caligula" was the diminutive, meaning "booties"