Wednesday 17 October 2012

Lets go shopping

Fashion comes to Britain in the 1st-Century AD
Modern recreation of the a
1st-Century AD ladies sandal
The Caligae, the shoe
for everybody

The Calceoli - comfort that
has survived the ages

I'm sure there's quite a few people out there who judge other cultures by the kind of shoes they wear. Last month I covered footwear fashion for Roman men, today I'm taking the ladies shopping. As a whole, Romans were a pretty practical lot, their days usually involved a lot of walking here or there so not surprisingly women wore walking sandals such as the caligae muliebres that were much the same as those worn by men. However where style overcame comfort, they were not at all adverse to ballet-slipper styled calceoli - probably an around-the-villa or down-to-the-corner-tavern kind of shoe - as well as a multitude of similar easy wear comfort sandals similar to many leading brands still available today. 

Two thousand year old women's shoes
found in an ancient British rubbish dump
on the edge of the Roman world.

Some variations and recreations

And yes, there were heels. Roman fashionistas were just like those moderns of Paris, London and New York. For the ladies who wanted big shoes, they could certainly get them. Kothorni - some with twelve-inch heels usually made of cork or sometimes wood - were there for those who wanted to make a statement. A recently discovered skeleton of a wealthy 1st-Century woman who lived in suburban Rome exhibits the kind of bone wear around the ankle that suggests she wore high-heels almost everyday - sounds like a victim of fashion to me.    

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