Court shoe
Court shoes or pumps (American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

) are shoe
A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot while doing various activities. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function...

s with a low-cut front and usually without a fastening. However, some have ankle
The ankle joint is formed where the foot and the leg meet. The ankle, or talocrural joint, is a synovial hinge joint that connects the distal ends of the tibia and fibula in the lower limb with the proximal end of the talus bone in the foot...

A strap, sometimes also called strop, is an elongated flap or ribbon, usually of fabric or leather.Thin straps are used as part of clothing or baggage, or bedding such as a sleeping bag. See for example spaghetti strap, shoulder strap...

s. They are usually worn by women, but are still traditional menswear in some formal situations, when they are sometimes called opera slippers or patent pumps.

As women's shoes

Court shoes for women are usually heeled. The shape is as dictated by the fashion of the time. In the UK, in 2007 a closed toe and wide (non-stiletto) heel were worn by the very fashion-conscious, but most still wore stilettos
Stiletto heel
A stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel found on some boots and shoes, usually for women. It is named after the stiletto dagger, the phrase being first recorded in the early 1930s...

 of mainly 'kitten' height
Kitten heel
A kitten heel is a short, slender heel, usually from 3.5 centimeters to 4.75 centimeters high with a slight curve setting the heel in from the edge of the shoe. The style was popularized by Audrey Hepburn.-Definition:...

 to medium height. Outside the fashion trade in the UK, the term "pumps" would normally imply flat or low-heel dancing or ballerina pumps
Ballet flat
Ballet flats or Dolly shoes are derived from a woman's soft ballet slipper, with a very thin heel or the appearance of no heel at all. The style sometimes features a ribbon-like binding around the low tops of the slipper and may have a slight gathering at the top-front of the vamp and a tiny,...

, or even rubber-soled canvas plimsolls
Plimsoll shoe
A plimsoll shoe, plimsoll, or plimsole is a British English word for a type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole, developed as beachwear in the 1830s by the Liverpool Rubber Company. The shoe was originally, and often still is in parts of the United Kingdom, called a 'sand shoe' and...


Court shoes can be made from any material, but traditional patent leather
Patent leather
Patent leather is a type of japanned leather that has been given a high gloss, shiny finish. The process was brought to the United States and improved by Newark-based inventor Seth Boyden in 1818, with commercial manufacture beginning September 20, 1819. Boyden's process, which he never patented,...

 is popular. Court shoes are mostly worn with a suit or a uniform, but are also worn with formal and informal dresses, skirts, trousers, and jeans. White, stiletto-heeled court shoes are the standard attire with swimsuits in beauty pageants.

Court shoes are also part of the costume of a ballroom dance
Ballroom dance
Ballroom dance refers to a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television....

r. They are made of satin, usually tan, though other colors are made as well, and worn on both the competition and practice floors.

As men's shoes

In the Regency period, during the day men wore dress boot
Dress boot
Dress boots are short leather boots worn by men. Built like dress shoes, but with uppers covering the ankle, versions of the boots are used as an alternative to these in bad weather or rough outdoor situation, and as a traditional option for day time formalwear....

s, and boots or court shoes by night, which accompanied silk knee-high stockings and breeches. The shoes originally had silver buckles, but these were removed by the influence of Brummel
Beau Brummell
Beau Brummell, born as George Bryan Brummell , was the arbiter of men's fashion in Regency England and a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV...

, and a square grosgrain
Grosgrain , also gros-grain and, rarely, gros grain, is a type of fabric characterized by its ribbed appearance. In grosgrain, the weft is heavier than the warp, creating prominent transverse ribs. It is called a "corded" fabric since the weft resembles a fine cord. Grosgrain is a plain weave...

 bow was added. By Victorian times, evening footwear was the court shoe when there would be dancing or music (hence the name opera shoe or opera slipper), and patent leather dress boots otherwise. Court shoes remained as standard for wearing with full dress
Full dress
Full dress is a category dress codes that refers to most formal clothing available in Western society.-Civilian:For a civilian, during the Victorian and Edwardian period, this corresponded to a frock coat in the day, and white tie at night...

 until the 1930s. At that time, the dress boot was also going out of fashion, as laced shoes began to be worn at all times.

Even though it now survives in much the same form as it was at the start of the 19th century (though it is occasionally now worn with plain, not patent, calf), the court shoe has been largely displaced by Oxfords, perhaps because of an effeminate image and the declining use of white tie
White tie
White tie is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. It is worn to ceremonial occasions such as state dinners in some countries, as well as to very formal balls and evening weddings...

. It remains acceptable (though rare) with black tie
Black tie
Black tie is a dress code for evening events and social functions. For a man, the main component is a usually black jacket, known as a dinner jacket or tuxedo...

, and, since formal boots are now hardly ever worn, court shoes are standard with white tie, their only remaining common use. They can be also seen today on British High Court Judges, and are still preferred with formalwear by many leaders of style.

The construction of the court shoe is simple, using a wholecut leather top lined with non- leather cloth. The sole is either glued onto the bottom, common on cheaper styles, or sewn, as on more costly bespoke styles still made traditionally, using a shallow slit to lift a flap of leather around the edge to recess and hide the stitching. The sole is, as on ordinary shoes, several layers of leather put together. The bow, not always added, is made of grosgrain silk.
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