During the 1790s ornate or jewelled buckles became distinctly unfashionable for shoes. The spirit of the French Revolution spread across the channel and buckles, which were associated with the excesses of pre-revolutionary France, were abandoned on everyday shoes in favour of a much plainer, unembellished style. By the 1800s military influences in fashion brought about by the Napoleonic wars meant that boots were all the rage. This was the case to such an extent that in about 1818 regulations for the Bath Assembly Rooms stated 'No Gentlemen in boots or half-boots to be admitted'. So what became of the buckle?

Inspite of the vagaries of fashion it did not disappear altogether and this was largely thanks to the Prince Regent, later King George IV's insistance that it be retained for Court dress. This pair of low-heeled men's Court shoes is a good example of how the buckle continued to be used well into the nineteenth century. Its function was both decorative and practical and men in attendance at Court were expected to adhere to this dress code. At Court such a pair of shoes would have been worn with silk stockings and breeches cut just below the knee, showing off the calf and and ankle of the wearer.


  • Title: Pair of shoes
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800/1849
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 9 cm each shoe, Width: 9 cm each shoe, Length: 29 cm each shoe
  • Provenance: Given by Messrs Harrods Ltd.
  • Medium: Leather, linen and silk sewn with cotton thread and with a gilt metal buckle

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