Ancient Footwear
Although people tend to think that glamorous footwear is a modern idea and assume people in the past shuffled about in simple sandals, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had the technical ability to make practical and comfortable footwear which also looked stunning.

In ancient Egypt, flip-flop type sandals were the most practical option. Usually made of plaited plant fibre or leather, the footwear of the wealthy was embellished with delicate filigree gold and studded with lapis lazuli, carnelian and feldspar. Even the soles could be decorated, with images of bound enemies waiting to be crushed, quite literally, with every step.

By Tutankhamen's time, around 1330 BC, the first shoes (so-called 'enveloping sandals') had just come into Egypt from Syria. And among the 40 or so pairs of footwear found in Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 was a pair of imported leather shoes, studded with gold and lapis lazuli buttons. The king's mummy even wore a pair of solid gold sandals, although these were clearly a special, if impractical, touch for the afterlife, with comfort more a concern of the living.
Ancient Footwear
Fast-forwarding over a thousand years to that other 'big name' Cleopatra, footwear was certainly still a key part of dressing to impress and a means of enhancing status. And with Cleopatra herself a big fan of pearls, from her pearl tipped hairpins to her enormous pearl earrings, the fashion soon developed for attaching pearls to footwear to create matching ensembles among the super-rich. Another ancient invention was the heeled shoe, from the 'soccus' low-heeled slipper to the 5 inch built-up sole of the 'cothurnus' boot. Usually worn by women and actors, Cleopatra's sworn enemy Octavian made up for his puny stature by wearing thick soles to make him look taller, while her strapping husband, Roman general Mark Antony, favoured imported footwear, from his French Gallic sandals to his white Athenian shoes known as 'phaikas'.

But for many ancient people, shoes were far more than simply items of clothing. As far back as Egyptian times when the gods were portrayed on footwear to bestow protection on the wearer, the Roman god Mercury the messenger could be identified by his winged sandals. Yet as the god who also guided dead souls into the next world, his magical sandals were regarded as so important they were made into small bronze brooches decorated in blue enamel to be worn by the devout.

Clearly the ancients loved their footwear in all its many shapes and colours, and were just as passionate about achieving the perfect combination of beauty and comfort as we are today.
Joann told Comfort Club: "As someone who spends a lot of time trekking around some pretty far flung locations, often being filmed at the same time, it's essential to have shoes which are not only comfortable but which look good (and obviously in my favourite colour black). Hotter shoes definitely tick every one of those boxes - I love them!"
Ancient Footwear
Professor Joann Fletcher of the University of York specialises in ancient dress and adornment and recently wrote and presented the BBC2 Series 'Ancient Eqypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings'. Her books include 'The Search for Nefertiti' and 'Cleopatra the Great' (both by Hodder & Stoughton).