““Due to the growing rarity of vintage textiles and accessories they were used mostly as hat trim and linings,” says the designer of the black top-hat that accent the blue of Poot’s (Blanche Ingram) velvet riding coat and skirt.”
I fully admit to being part of the reason for the growing rarity.
“When heels were first introduced into Western dress from the Near East their original purpose was embraced. Heels kept the foot in the stirrup when horse back riding. However, when the rider dismounted, his high heels would sink into the mud. So in the early 17th century, men began to slip their high heeled shoes or boots into a pair of flat-soled mules to prevent their heels from sinking into the mud. The wearing of mule with shoes or boots did prevent the heel from sinking into the mud but when the wearer attempted to walk a loud slapping sound could be heard made by the sole of the mule slapping against the heel of the shoe or boots—-similar to the noise that flip flops make I would guess. Women’s fashion followed men’s in the early 17th century so they too began to wear slap-soles but women’s slap-soles often feature the heel secured to the mule sole so that they did not make noise when they walked. This was okay for women’s footwear because women had no need to separate their high heeled shoes from their mules as they were not going to go horseback riding.”
- Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack explanation on the slap-soled shoes
“Catherine ‘Skittles’ Walters, courtesan of Victorian London, noted horsewoman and famed for having the tightest riding-habit in Britain. (In Europe, only the Empress Elizabeth could compete with her for that.) Admirers watching her go by used to speculate on whether she had to be naked underneath.”