Quotidian fashions, even if they were intended for the upper classes, rarely survive. With the exception of formal court attire, this is especially true of menswear, as the combination of the persistence of male styles compared to women's fashions and the relatively heavier functional requirements of male dress resulted in its loss through wear and a disinterest in its preservation for aesthetic reasons. These shoes, however, were spared the typical fate because of their association with a person of note-the famed poet, hymnist, and letter writer William Cowper (1731-1800). Unlike the other examples of sartorial mastery in the exhibition, these shoes are significant precisely because they are so ordinary in their look and make and are so typical of their time-and because they survived. They are likely to have been worn with articles of a gentlemen's "undress," a banyan or robe and a soft cap, attire in which Cowper was depicted.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "blog.mode: addressing fashion," December 18, 2007–April 13, 2008.