Feet connect us to the world and help us move through the world. Bare feet are seen as humble, but shoes are vehicles for mobility and therefore linked to status. Different forms of footwear across the world are sometimes limited to members of certain classes by law, social taboos and financial cost. Putting one’s best foot forward involves wearing shoes that signify one’s status, class and ambition.
These women’s ‘City Mules’ are made from wood inlaid with mother of pearl with a leather strap. They came from Syria in 1968.
Amongst the rural nomadic Bedouin tribes, women and children would often not be able to afford shoes, going barefoot or at most owning simple sandals. Only women who considered themselves wealthy enough to be ‘city ladies’ wore shoes. The more women at a Bedouin wedding wearing shoes, the higher the status of the marriage.