"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Spats were short formal fabric shoe coverings worn over the instep and reaching just above the ankle, usually fastened by a strap under the foot and buttons. Spats were designed to stop mud getting into the side of your shoes. Around the First World War and into the twenties they were the height of fashion. They had gone out of fashion by the time of the Second World War, surviving in the law slightly longer than in other professions.

Nowadays, spats for girls are occasionally seen.

I have heard it said at one time that a man was all barefeet and spats and I never really understood it though the character in question was noted for abusing his position and for taking credit for the works of others. I don't know if that was a purely local expression or a more general one.


  1. So a bit like the modern-day water proof gaiters people wear with hikhing boots to "stop mud getting into the side of your" boots. Although gaiters tend to extend to the calf rather than just above the ankle.

  2. I have heard the term spats, but always thought they were the shoe itself. :)

  3. I have a photo of may dad's brother wearing spats. He thought he was the cat's whiskers!