Friday, September 21, 2018

The Poulaine or long toed shoe




“If ever a shoe style represented a symbol of social status then the long toed shoe of the Middle Ages remains unsurpassed. The fashion lasted for four centuries, unbroken.”

Introduction



Footwear throughout history has supplied a social ritual, the knowledge of which indicated, breeding and status. The wealthy classes of the Middle Ages indulged their superiority by wearing sumptuous clothing and shoes became symbols, serving to indicate standards of conduct as well as emotional states. During the High Middle Ages fashion took a bizarre turn and the glitterati of European courts wore poulaines or, very long toed shoes. As the centuries passed, men’s footwear grew longer and longer until they were 24” longer than the feet they protected. Normal walking was impossible and young dandies stiffened their peaks with moss and grass ensuring the true purpose of the shoe dildos was obvious. Despite the fashion’s longevity no rational explanation has ever been proffered to explain the phenomenon. In the spirit of zeitgeist, the author attempts to now fill that void. The fashion began at the same time the first Crusaders were returning from the Holy Lands (The First Crusade, 1095–99).

Chivalry



As European society emerged from the Dark Ages, high culture prevailed in the Empire of Islam which extended from India to Spain. When the two cultures clashed Knights were surprisingly impressed by the sophistication of the mystic culture of the Sufis. For centuries the Sufis developed a mystical path of love where the sensual and the spiritual came bonded in an ecstatic way. It was never clear whether the poet was praising a human beloved or the divine beloved or one shining through the other. Modern scholars acknowledge the influence of Islam formed the basis for European Chivalry and Courtly Love. The conventions of courtly love taught young men to sublimate their desires and channel their energies into socially useful behaviour. To do otherwise might have threatened social stability especially at a time when feudal lords and knights were engaged in the Crusades. For people to break these taboos only reinforces the strength and drive for sexual pleasure which transcend any moral precept.

Courtly Love



Courtly love flourished in the early 12th century during the cultural renaissance that followed the first Crusades. It involved the passionate devotion of lover and loved one. The relationship was always illicit i.e. the woman was the wife of another, often a lord or patron and its consummation was virtually impossible. The high minded ideas about romance spread when troubadours sang openly of love’s joys and heartbreaks in daringly personalised terms, extolling the ennobling effects of the lover’s’ selfless devotion. The troubadours (the term is derived from the Arabic word 'tare', meaning musical enchantment) promoted a love yearned for, and at times rewarded by, the solace of every delight of the beloved except physical possession by intercourse. Courts of Love were held to publicise the rules of love and the ladies who presided at the courts taught society about the new way to live and love.

Domnei & Donnoi



Most arranged marriages between aristocrats were for political reasons but convention upheld two "intimate ceremonies" as a form of courtship. Domnei (woman worship) was a custom where the would-be suitor gazed on the partly or fully undressed lady; and Donnoi where the couple lay naked together sometimes separated only by a pillow. The test for the young lovers was to prove their depth of love by avoiding intercourse. This was sensual, carnal and openly encouraged the delights of kissing and embracing. The sight of a beloved’s nudity and the touching of her body provoked desire. Under these circumstances it would be no stretch of the imagination to work out what gainful employ a 24" long extension on the foot might be put towards. Indeed, at a public banquet an average sized adult male with two 24 " long extensions on his feet could keep three women perfectly happy under the table, leaving his hands free to enjoy a health repast.

Long Toed Shoes



The fashion for long toed shoes lasted four centuries and although it ebbed and waned in that time, the length of shoes got longer until the style was abruptly halted in the early 15th century. Through its zenith, shoe length was subject to papal condemnation as well as sumptuary laws which always restricted excesses to the less wealthy. Despite this the fashion remained even although it caused men to walk unnaturally and ungainly with a wide based, high stepping gait. A particular fad of the young nobles who attended the court of William Rufus was to wear shoes with long tapering points like scorpions’ tails. Orderic Vitalis was an English born monk who spent the whole of his religious life in the Norman Abbey of Evroul and recorded much of the social events of his time. He documented a fool in the court called Robert, who stuff the points of his shoes with flax so they could be curled back in the form of a ram’s horn. He was subsequently given the ribald nickname Cornadus, meaning ‘Horner” or Horny.

Symptoms of Tertiary Syphilis


(Video Courtesy: nabil ebraheim Published on Youtube Channel)


The same high stepping pattern of movement (ataxia) is seen in tabes dorsalis, a sequestrate of tertiary syphilis where spirochetes destroys the central nervous system. Syphilitic myelopathy is a disorder characterized by muscle weakness and abnormal sensations caused by untreated syphilis infections. Loss of proprioception causes coordination difficulties which contribute to problems of wide based walking. The same infection causes widespread damage to the nerves of the brain and results in personality changes, mood changes, hyperactive reflexes, abnormal mental function including hallucinations and delusions, decreased intellectual functioning, and speech changes. This is known as General Paralysis of the Insane and typically begins about 15-20 years after the original syphilis infection.

The Court Jester



"When the king was a syphilitic semi-imbecile, a jester even more grotesque may have served as a useful stage prop, disarming criticism by making the king look more nearly normal by comparison and thus making the make-believe of kingship possible."

(Willeford, 1969 p156).

Syphilis was long thought to be a disease introduced to Europe in the 15th century (carried by Christopher Columbus’s crew). Hence historians have had no reason to seek evidence of its existence prior to this date. Recent discoveries of human remains in Hull, England, have revealed syphilitic pitting and the bones have these have been carbon dated to the 11th century. The presence of the pox and the knowledge of its transmission would give reason to influence sexual practises.


(Video Courtesy: Secrets of the Universe Published on Youtube Channel)


Safe sex



The urge to prevent pregnancy was actively and creatively pursued since Onan spilled his seed (Genesis). Pre modern peoples of Europe regulated family size and women in antiquity had significant control over their reproductive lives. From ancient times a foreign object placed in the uterus was thought to prevented pregnancy and in periods when marriage was delayed it has been assumed that masturbation was an outlet. Until the Middle Ages women practiced birth control with little interference from religious or civil authorities. In courtly love shoe shaped dildos may have been used as sex toys and/or a means of physical contraception used after intercourse. The long shoe style may also have provided protection from sexually transmitted disease and or masked the symptoms. In a similar manner in Oriental Society, sexualisation of the Lotus Foot may have been for the same reasons.

Foot sex



The association between feet and sex is found no clearer than in the Orient. The origins of foot binding are clouded although aesthetic appreciation of the small foot was present in early Chinese literature. Documentation of the foot binding starts from the 10th Century. Maintaining the Lotus foot (3” long) ensured hypersensitivity of the foot arch and forced the child to walk with small steps. Deportment was important and thought to increase the labial folds and muscle tone of the pelvic floors. The vagina was tight for life and the soles of the feet became second vaginas. Pedal sex was contemporary in the ancient world.

But what global event would cause two diverse societies separated by thousands of miles and eons of culture to adopt such a curious preoccupation with feet and sex? It had to be disease.

Fact or fantasy



What I have just recounted is conjecture, and in the absence of written evidence must remain so. Whether shoes became sex toys by necessity and sexualisation of the foot, a focus for safe sex, will never be clear. However, something strange did happened in the 11th century and this has influenced our sexual behaviours to date. As an anthropologist/sociologist who studies the foot in health and disease, I could not finish this presentation without a foot note. The end of the fashion for long toed shoes came abruptly in the early 15th century. From contemporary paintings, the only evidence available, the style was quickly replaced by shoes which were so broad across the ball if the foot as to boast of individual compartments for each toe. The podiatrist’s delight was called Bears Paws. The same style is seen today in post-surgical moon boots used to support and protect injured tissue. One other outcome of neuro-syphilis is Charcot foot where trophic ulceration decimates the sole of the foot making walking in anything other than shoe boxes, impossible. By the 16C a new class of courtiers had emerged and deportment took on social significance where appearance reflected moral attitudes. Clothing became more rigid, to impose a standard form.







Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sumptuary Law in the Thirteenth Century




Prior to the thirteenth century legislators paid scant attention to fashion, dress or adornment (Brundage, 1987). One cannon in the Decretum of Gratian (circa 1140) dealt with feminine adornment but that was more concerned with the morality of makeup than with luxurious clothing (Freiberg, 1879 cited in Brundage, 1987). Theologians and moralists prior to the end of the thirteenth century were more concerned with costume than were the lawyers and legislators of the period.



St Thomas Aquinas (1224-74) scrutinized the moral implications of luxury in women's dress. Inordinate attention to and expenditure on lavish clothing, he cautioned might under some circumstances be sinful. A single woman who had no desire to marry should dress plainly, lest she provoke men to sinful thoughts and deeds. Married women could legitimately lavish attention on their appearance only as long as her goal was to make herself attractive to her husband and keep him interested in her (Bursa 1980 cited in Brundage, 1987).



Aquinas did not consider the dressmaker guilty of any sin by creating luxurious or attractive fashions since the purchaser could use the attire for legitimate or illegal purpose. The fashion designer might however commit a sin by creating frivolous or novel styles for the display of feminine charms. (Bursa, 1980, cited in Brundage, 1987). This may go some way to explain the often puckarian depiction of cobblers and shoemakers in folklore and fairy tales.



The first record of sumptuary legislation is an ordinance of the City of London in 1281 regulating apparel of workman. These related to workers who had working clothes supplied by their employer. This may have arisen from a wage/price control impulse or from imitation of continental trends.



The first Italian sumptuary law contained in the Breve della Campagna, dates further back to 1157. The law related to the banning of the use of rich furs.



In Venice special magistrates, Proveditori Sopra Le Pompe, were appointed to enforce sumptuary regulations. In 1299 a law was passed permitting only the bride and one other guest to wear pearls i.e. one strand around the waste.



The sumptuary laws which appeared in the middle of the thirteenth century came from governments which omitted common people or "popolo". Hence the laws were thought to control aristocratic excesses more than keep down the peasants. The city state of Siena regulated trains on dresses in 1249. Bologna made a similar decree in 1260. By the time sumptuary laws were being applied to various levels of European Society, the Council of Montpellier had forbidden Churchmen from slashing the hems of their robes (AD 1195) and King Louis VIII was able to control his noble's wardrobe by 1229.

References
Brundage JA 1987 Sumptuary laws and prostitution in late Medieval Italy Journal of Medieval History 13:4 343-355.

Sumptuary Law in the Fourteenth Century




According to Strutt (cited in Baldwin, 1926), during the 14th and 15th centuries the people of England and France loved to imitate each other. Courtly concerns about upward mobility may have influenced sumptuary control. During the reign of Edward II, (1284-1327) in 1309, a proclamation against outrageous consumption of meats and fine dishes by the great houses was issued. Parliament did not however address the royal concern with legislation.



Aristocratic luxuries introduced from France began to appear in the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). English manufacturers were quick to make these available to anyone who wanted to buy them. England's prosperity was on the increase at this time due to success in foreign wars. Many subjects wore fine garments, lined with fur, and made from superior linen. The acquisition of jewels, gold and silver plate, and rich furniture had all been acquired as a result of the war with France. The availability of costly items led gentlewomen and knights to overvalue their appearance. Each tried to outdo their neighbours with their finery and the habit soon became common place among the lower classes. Keen to promote English craftsmen and swell craft guilds in the cities and towns, Edward III used diplomatic and legislative means to achieve this end.



As a result, the artisan class prospered and this became one of the chief causes of national strength and prosperity during his reign. Edward III was described as "the king who taught the English how to dress." Although responsible for the introduction of sumptuary laws in England, he did not lead by example. The King hoped to promote prosperity in England and according to Cunningham (cited in Baldwin, 1926) had three main ways of achieving this objective. He intended to foster foreign commerce; he wanted to help English industries; and to restrict public extravagance by sumptuary legislation. During his reign English commerce spread throughout Europe. The wool trade was especially healthy and brought much wealth. The war with France provided a window of opportunity. This led to building of national wealth and coincidentally national costume. One manifestation of the new patriotism engendered throughout the reign of Edward III was the development of a style of dress. Baldwin described this as more national and not a copy of continental styles seen in previous fashions.



The frequent tournaments and other entertainments which took place in the reign of Edward III promoted a rapid succession of new fashions among the upper classes. Edward's reign saw a meteoric rise in the merchant class (Pearsall, 1996). The recognition of the laboring class and moneyed (or capitalist class) was one of the most important developments in English life from the time of Edward III, onwards. (Cunningham, cited in Baldwin, 1926). A good many changes in male costume took place about 1350. Boots became longer more pointed and also more ornate. They were sometimes laced instead of buckled. Women of the period were very fashion conscious. The royal attire of Edward III included embroidered shoes.



The reign of Edward III provided the first national sumptuary legislation on record. Statutes were passed in the Parliaments of 1336, 1337 and 1363. These are available in the Statutes of the Realm. According to Bland (1976) one act included the following

"no knight under the estate of a lord, esquire or gentleman, nor any other person, shall wear any shoes or boots having spikes or points which exceed the length of two inches, under the forfeiture of forty pence."



The 1336 Act attempted to regulate the dress of various classes of the English people. The war with France was over and the English had triumphed. But the spoils of war brought extravagance and wastefulness. Many of the parliamentarians were clerics or influenced by clerics, and the 1336 Act most probably came from their lobbying (Baldwin, 1926). The law had two levels i.e. an attempt to control excess in dress and promote English garments; and secondly an effort to preserve class distinctions by means of costume. Due to a lack of documented evidence it would seem there are no records of prosecution under the sumptuary laws of Edward III and the same law was repealed a year later.



In 1337 when war was again declared with France, the English Parliament enacted a law intended to restrain extravagance in dress and to promote the consumption of English manufacturers. The 1337 act dealt with furs, limiting the wearing thereof to persons of gentle birth (or persons with annual incomes of 100 pounds or more). The Black Death (1348 and 1350) reached England in 1348 and the end of the following year had spread to the north of the country. It was estimated at least 20% of the population died. This led to the imposition in 1351 of the Statute of Laborers which fixed wages to pre Black Death levels and prevented mobility of labour in an attempt to restore stability at a time when demand for workers was much greater than the supply (Pearsall, 1996). People were often paid in apparel and foodstuffs.



In 1355 an act was passed to restrict prostitutes from clothing more in keeping with respectable women. Later parliament of 1363 passed an act regulating both apparel and consumption of foodstuffs. This act amended a previous act from 1337 and reduced the threshold for permissible wearing of furs to any non-peasant with annual income of 40 shillings or greater. The legislation had two objectives i.e. protectionism i.e. only members of the royal family could wear cloth of non-English manufacture; and an anti-inflationary measure. Prior to this, Flemish weavers were taking English cash out of the country. The laws were an attempt retrieve lost taxes by keeping English money in the country.



During the reign of Edward III the length of shoes were regulated i.e. nobility were allowed 24" (61cm) pointed shoes; gentlemen could wear 12" (31 cm) extensions and merchants 6.5" (16 cm).



Towards the end of Richard II (1367 -1400) reign extravagance in dress and manner of living rapidly increased. Richard was a bad example to his subjects and was known as "the greatest fob ever, to occupy the throne'. His excesses were legendary and his nobles and merchants were keen to follow his lead by spending large sums of money on their dress.



The fashions from Italy and those imported by his consort. Queen Anne from Bohemia influenced even the servant class who wore long toed shoes or Cracow’s (poulaines or pokys). Shoes were sometimes worn with one colour on the right foot and another on the left. They were made of every kind of material, sewn with pearls on velvet or cloth, stamped with gold on leather, or made of raised leather. Worn with enormously long, pointed toes, sometimes they were stuffed to become stiff, sometimes left limp. Some suggestions are the end of the shoe was fastened by chains to the waste or knees, in order to allow the wearer to move about. However, no evidence has ever been found to confirm this assumption. The long toed shoe styles proved so popular and unabated it was considered necessary to pass several laws prohibiting their use.

References
Baldwin F E 1926 Sumptuary Legislation and Personal Regulation in England Johns Hopkins Press.
Bland A 1976 A history of ballet and dance in the western world London: Barrie & Jenkins.
Pearsall R 1996 Kings & queens: a history of British monarchy New York: Todtri Productions.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sumptuary Laws in Medieval Society




According to Jeudwine JW (cited in Baldwin, 1926) medieval society was a democracy founded upon the principle of aristocracy, and this meant every man was to keep his place in society. An increase in Merchant Class saw this principle challenged as sumptuous dress and social habits threatened the stability of the age. Each person's place in society was considered fixed by social custom and it was considered heresy for anyone to rise above their class, either in his manner of living or in his dress. Inevitably authority (usually the Kings or Parliament) took steps to curb extravagances. The laws were implemented throughout the middle ages and had their zenith during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.



The motives for sumptuary law varied throughout history, depended on many factors including the prevailing circumstances at the time they were introduction as well as when they were eventually revoked. The flourishing of sumptuary laws in part reflected greater prosperity. The proliferation of sumptuary legislation occurred mainly in municipal statutes. Ecclesiastical legislation on the subject remained meagre and laws about adornment were a marginal concern for canonists. The paradox here was many of the clergy, were guilty of breaking the convention by wearing fashion excesses including Cardinal Wolsey. Someone responsible for imposing restrictions on lower orders of the clergy and faithful.



At first kings and parliaments paid little heed to regulating women's dress. Overwhelmingly in Europe it was city law makers who tried to repress extravagant fashions. This would infer the existence of sumptuary laws was in part the concerns of urban dwellers such as merchants, professionals, artisans and craftsmen. It is notable, most of the sumptuary laws came from the Mediterranean cities and Burckhardt (1945) suggested this was because dress was taken more seriously in Italy than elsewhere in this period. The main differences between English and continental sumptuary laws was in England they were national where as in Europe they were local in nature and dealt with fewer subjects than those of other countries (Baldwin. 1926).



According to Balwin (1926) what led to the enactment of these laws was likely to include the following: the desire to preserve class distinctions; the desire to check practices which were regarded as deleterious in their effects. For example, the feeling luxury and extravagance were wicked and harmful to the morals of the people. Economic motives, to encourage home industries and discourage the buying of foreign goods; or the attempt on the part of the sovereign to induce their subjects; to save money, so they might be able to help the country’s finances in time of need; and shear conservatism and dislike of new fashions or customs, especially by some of the more conservative clergy. The bulk of evidence indicates medieval sumptuary law was anti-inflationary, wage controls and protectionist in its intents. Prior to the eighteenth century there were laws to stop common people from dressing like affluent society. These laws regulated personal behaviour on moral or religious grounds (Healy, 1977).



Hurlock (1965) wrote "Sumptuary laws were used primarily to preserve class distinctions. When members of the nobility found their position of supremacy encroached upon by the lower classes that had attained wealth, they passed laws to restore the respect for the inequality of ranks which had previously existed.". Hurlock went on to say sumptuary laws were often used as a means of inducing people to save money. It was considered necessary to reduce senseless spending on luxuries such as clothing lest the event would result in the country going bankrupt. Sumptuary Laws were also used to help encourage domestic trade. One law which exemplifies this was a law concerning the wearing of woollen caps to be worn on Sunday and all holy days by all persons over the age of six (except those of high position). The caps had to be made in England and the law was thought to have succeeded by building up the woollen industry. As wealth began to spread to the lower classes people began to evade the sumptuary laws during the fourteenth century lower class women learned to embroider thus giving elegance to their clothing. Because this was handmade and not bought they did not breach laws relating to the purchase of expensive clothing. Avoiding prosecution by the law became a source of fertile innovation in clothing designs



In France the wearing of expensive hand muffs was restricted to the aristocracy, poor women avoided prosecution by wearing muffs made from cat and dog skin. Few could tell these apart from sable and mink.

References
Baldwin F E 1926 Sumptuary Legislation and Personal Regulation in England Johns Hopkins Press
Burckhardt J 1945 The civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy (2nd ed) Oxford: Middlemore.
Healey T 1977 History of costume London: Macdonald Educational.
Hurlock E B 1965 Sumptuary law In Roach ME Eicher JB Dress, adornment and the social order New York: John Wiley & Sons 295-301.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sumptuary Law in early Christian Times and other cultures




According to Brundage (1987) early Christians disapproved of luxury in dress.

“But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.” (Matthew 11:8).



St Paul’s thoughts on Christian women were, they should dress quietly and modestly.

"Sweet disposition and gentle piety, not gems bangles, and flashy dresses should be the adornments that holy women cherished (1Tim. 2:9-10: cf. 1 Peter 3:3-5; Isaiah 3:16-24).

So it would seem early Christians had strong opinion on dress and initially the high church shunned sumptuous clothing for themselves, and most certainly for the commoner priest and friar. All this would change quickly as expensive clothing became the mark of the new ‘Christian Emperors.’



In her essay "Sumptuary Law", Hurlock (1965) refers to the custom of primitive societies and their reliance on sumptuary laws. The Chibcha (indigenous people of the eastern cordillera of the Andes of Colombia) forbade any common person in the tribe from decorating their bodies with paint.



The Kaffirs (or indigenous people from the region of the Great Fish River) punished members of the lower classes who attempted to ornament themselves in imitation of their social superiors.



In ancient Peru the lower classes could not use gold or silver except without express permission of the ruling group. >



Japanese sumptuary law was the most severe in civilised society. These determined not only how everyone should dress, work, speak, walk, sit, but also pray. Provincial governors were required to enforce these laws and farmers with an income of less than $100 were unable to wear zori (sandals) made from leather. Instead they wore sandals made from straw or wood with cotton straps.



Sun shades or paper umbrellas were prohibited to the lower classes and they protect themselves by wearing straw raincoats or large straw hats.



The Chinese people were aroused to great fury and open rebellion in the 13th century when ordered by their Tartar conquerors (Mongols) to cut off their hair as a sign of servitude. Many preferred to lose their heads rather than comply.



In pre-Christian Ireland, laws relating to the use of colour by different ranks were in place. These were similar in character to those found in ancient Rome. The colour purple for example, was always reserved for the royal family. Scarlet could be worn only by royal family members and high noblemen. The cost of dying cloth in ancient times was expensive and economic factors alone would influence what was worn within the caste or class structure. By the Middle Ages this began to change due to a rising Merchant Class and the spoils of war.

References
Brundage JA 1987 Sumptuary laws and prostitution in late Medieval Italy Journal of Medieval History 13:4 343-355.
Hurlock E B 1965 Sumptuary law In Roach ME Eicher JB Dress, adornment and the social order New York: John Wiley & Sons 295-301.

Sumptuary Laws in Antiquity

In antiquity, efforts to control personal regulation were related to the general mode of living rather than of dress. The Greeks had some laws relating to clothing, such as; women could only wear three garments at a time. This may account for why most women went barefoot. The amount of money to be spent of clothing was also regulated by the wealth of the family. Sumptuary laws in Rome included the Lex Orchia which was passed in 187 BC. This related to the number of invited people who might attend a feast. The Lex Fannia was passed in 161 BC and regulated, the cost of entertainment. According to Brundage (1987) the Roman Lex Oppia, was adopted in 215 BC and later repealed 195 BC with the Lex Valria Fundiana. He described the action of Marcus Porcius Cato who argued lifting restrictions of women's dress would invite moral decadence and social upheaval. He was right and both followed in quick pursuit.



Colour and material were very important as a means of depicting rank in Roman time.. Laws were passed restricting peasants (plebs) to one colour; officers could wear two colours; commanders three; and members of the royal household up to seven colours. The colour purple was always reserved for the royal family. Scarlet could be worn only by royal family members and high noblemen.



During the reign of Claudius I (AD 41-54), his marines were ordered to go barefoot after some demanded compensation from the emperor for the marching shoes the marines had wore out. As a result the entire fleet were forbidden from wearing shoes.



At the time of Emperor Aurelian, (Lucius Claudius Domitius Aurelianus (AD 270 - 275) the colours yellow, white, red or green were reserved exclusively for women. The only exception to this was he reserved the right to wear red or purple for himself and his sons. He banned his wife from buying purpura-dyed silk garments because it cost its weight in gold. Only ambassadors to foreign lands might wear gold rings, and men were strictly forbidden from wearing silk garments of any sort.



When Roman soldiers returned victorious to Rome they frequently celebrated by substituting the bronze nails in their caligae (war sandals) with gold and silver tacks. The fashion caught on and patricians began to wear ornamentation on their shoes with gold and jewels.



Such alarm was raised with the fashion for shoe bling Emperor Heliogabalus (AD 218-222) banned the practice. Heliogabalus had his own shoes decorated with diamonds and other precious stones, engraved by the finest artists. During the more luxurious days of the Roman Empire, thongs were decorated with gold and precious stones.



Sumptuary laws and price controls were later imposed by Gaius Valerius Diocletianus (AD 245-313), in AD 301.



During Roman times footwear came in many styles and colours each reflecting class distinctions. Only male citizens were entitled to wear the toga and the calceus (a shoe or short boot). The colour of the calceus always indicated social standing. The reason for this had much to do with the cost of dying materials which was very expensive. Red was, at first, the colour for high magistrates (in the service of Edile); but later became the Emperor's prerogative.

Reference
Brundage JA 1987 Sumptuary laws and prostitution in late Medieval Italy Journal of Medieval History 13:4 343-355.