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This well-preserved pair of ankle boots represents a form of daytime footwear prevalent in both the United States and Europe from the 1830s through the 1860s. A style known as gaiter boots, they imitated the delicate appearance of slender slippers paired with gaiters of a contrasting material. Narrowly cut, they gave the impression of a small foot, which aligned with prevailing ideals of beauty and femininity linking delicacy not only to elegance, but to gentility. As hemlines rose in the 1830s, and the foot and ankle became a visible focus of attention, such shoes would have conveyed the impression of dainty features, and by extension refinement and respectability. Etiquette manuals and popular ladies’ magazines in Europe and America promoted this style of footwear as an essential fashion accessory, perfectly in line with expected standards of propriety and good taste.

Boots, cotton, leather, French

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