Recently, I have started to wear these cute swedish hasbeens that I purchased when they had a sale (if you ever want swedish hasbeens, I recommend checking out their direct website instead of shopping through anthro or free people), and when I started wearing them I started to wonder what the origins of clogs are. I could easily guess that they would be something more Northern Europe, and figured it was Dutch, but I wasn’t sure. So I started to research them and was pleased with what I found.
So --- this cute shoe that I am wearing in these photos didn’t look this way when it first started out (as you probably figured), and was covered entirely in wood instead of the comfortable leather I have now. Clogs started to be worn by men and women in the 1300s (wow!) and appears that clogs originated in Holland (so I was right!), but you can never be totally certain if that is the truth when you are getting information from the 1300s.
Anyways, these shoes that I now wear because they are cute and super comfortable, were originally used by peasants. They were affordable to make, durable, comfortable, and kept your feet protected from various types of weather. Clogs also originally were painted with beautiful designs that were unique to the village they came from (as you can see above), and they were eventually used throughout Europe within the working classes. Even though they were rather convenient shoes, the wealthier people in society would not wear them because they were associated with the lower class - that part is funny when you realize that the clogs I am wearing in this photo are marketed at 239 dollars.
I have two paintings to share from France before and during the French Revolution that show a depiction of clogs in art. In the first painting, by Francois Boucher, The Wooden Shoes - Les sabots (1768). This scene depicts two lovers sitting in the forest and the man’s wooden clogs are shown in the foreground. This painting is before the French Revolution, and the artist was often commissioned by the King of France. Boucher was known for idealizing pastoral landscapes and people of the lower classes. In this picture, you can tell that the man is from the working class because he wears clogs, but it is harder to discern the women's social status, though it seems to be above his due to her fine clothing. The way the couple is pictured idealizes the working class as well. It makes it seem like they have time to sit in the forest relaxing and eating berries - it is no wonder that Marie Antoinette had an idealized view of peasant life... Anyways, the clogs are used in this image to help aid the viewer in discerning status, but are just part of the story.
While in this painting, Idealized sans-culotte (1792) by Louis-Léopold Boilly, the clogs have a bigger message to send. In this painting, you are shown a man standing tall representing the important sans-culotte movement of the French Revolution. In this movement, the men chose to wear trousers instead of the fashionable silk culottes (I am actually wearing silk pants in the picture of myself, so I guess I am blending two ideas in one photo) in a statement representing a desire for social equality, economic equality, and popular democracy. Members of the sans-culotte movement were the face of the French Revolution and often took part in the military aspects of the revolution. Clogs were part of the sans-culotte uniform and were called sabots.
Side note: “Allegedly derived from sabot, sabotage described the actions of disgruntled workers who willfully damaged workplace machinery by throwing their sabots into the works” (according to wikipedia, so the credibility isn't amazing)
Anyways, this man is part of the French Revolution and Boilly depicts him in a way to represent the poor quality of life of the French working class. The clogs themselves help Boilly show his views because the clogs symbolize being poor and part of the working class. The clogs here are more of a political statement that is important for the French Revolution at the time.
So, there ya have it. This is a small part of the history of Clogs. When I was starting to write this post, I was definitely expecting to focus more on the Northern Europe part of clog history, but I guess it just turned into mini discussion of clogs being used in France and I am happy with what I learned. Are there any other items of clothing you have been interested in learning about? I am already starting a post on mules because those shows are everywhere in art history!
P.S. If you know me, you know I LOOVVVVEEE tigers. Like, the only real thing on my bucket list is to touch a tiger. They are the most beautiful animals alive IMO, and I love wearing anything with a tiger on it. These silk J.Crew tiger pants are my favorite pants that I own, and basically any item that I own with a tiger on it is a major favorite. Actually while writing this post - I am wearing a tiger shirt that I got from Brandy Melville.
So there ya go. If you see any cute tiger stuff - LEMME KNOW, haha cause I am always down to add more to my collection.