Footwear

Let Us Now Give Thanks for Square-Toed Shoes

A photographic (and shockingly revisionist!) history of that most reviled—yet thoroughly American—footwear shape.

On that first brutal American winter of 1620, a small band of English Puritans, beset by exposure, scurvy, and malnutrition, was greeted by a Pawtuxet Indian named Squanto who, armed with an intimate knowledge of the land, taught the weary travelers how to grow corn—an agricultural lesson that changed the course of world civilization. How did these disparate parties, divided on the cruel shores of Plymouth by language, ethnicity, and custom, manage to break the proverbial ice? We’d like to think it had something to do with their shoes. And specifically, the common shape of the toe boxes on their buckled Tudor-style man-pumps and artisanally-crafted leather moccasins, respectively. Square.

We know, we know: When it comes to being a well-dressed modern gentleman, pulling on a pair of square-toes is about as advisable as going pantless. But before you recoil and swear off Thanksgiving legacy entirely, we pose the following question: Would our country really be the same without them? And, are we really so lacking in national humility as to even entertain the (very real) possibility that the near future may herald the patriotic return of boot-cut jeans finished off by toe boxes as angular as Tom Dempsey’s? No, that’s not a threat; but it is occasion to bring you a brief photographic history that has long been in order. Happy Thanksgiving.

"The square toe is the surest sign of a well rounded man." Ben Franklin may well have said something very similar.

Saints placekicker Tom Dempsey's famous footwear.

Shaft. He ain’t no square.

Frye motorcycle boots, fully immunized against footwear trends.

Timeless.

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