Monday, April 10, 2017

Let's Bring Back Spats!

"What are 'spats'?" many of you may well ask.  They became popular in the 17th century and were designed as shoe protectors in those days of running sewage in the streets, horses powering carriages and were cost effective as they were disposable rather than having to buy a new pair of shoes. 

I saw a pair yesterday afternoon at the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club ('jazz club') on a member of the Wolverine Hotel Jazz Band.  The band uniform was:  dark shoes, black pants, white dress shirt and a necktie.  One member raised the bar for crisp dress with the addition of bright white spats.

Spats is short for "spatterdash" or "spatter guards" and consists of a piece of saddle-shaped material - fabric, leather, suede - that fastens via buttons down the outside edge of them with a strap under the arch of the shoe to hold them in place.  For a quick mental visual, think of Scottish bagpipers - they wear spats to this day.  And they also stick a knife down their socks so it is not a good idea to criticize their music.  Unless you're armed and I could have helped you out Wednesday, but the garbage guys got mine. 

Spats in Britain were largely discarded after King George V opened the Chelsea Flower Show and he was not wearing spats.   So post-ceremony, when everyone had gone home, groundskeepers discovered tons of spats under the bushes!  As lagniappe, morning coats were discarded, too.  Just in not wearing them; not under bushes.

More than a King's fashion sense, the everyday spat was discontinued because they were no longer needed as protection from the trash in the streets.  With automobiles came thoroughfares and paved streets.  Horse droppings were a thing of the past.

Today spats do exist as additions to vintage looks or perhaps costume balls.  The site carries a variety with a price range from $158 to $218 - for slightly more material than your average bikini.  They also have a nifty line of "pocket squares" and bow ties.

Otherwise about the only spats effect you can put on your feet are saddle shoes or golf shoes.  A poor substitute say some. 

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