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Julian Tilbury's guide to modifying desert boots - find used ones
My hushpuppie latchets - $6 from Goodwill
Startups were farmer's boots, this pair made for me in the UK.
Gary Soame's handmade latchets shoes from the UK cost about $80 plus shipping
Hand-made latchets are the best choice, but often cost $100, or more from US makers . Don't buy new desert boots -- you can get custom shoes made for nearly the same cost. But if you can find used desert boots or hushpuppies or anything similar for a good price, consider cutting the sides to make them look like latchet shoes -- the shoe of choice for the English Civil War soldier. Despite what you may see in movies, bucket-top boots were worn mostly by officers and cavalry. Low shoes were a fashion statement, and only hicks wore startups.
Check the charity shops for all-leather shoes or low boots. Get them at least your correct size, but if they are a size or two larger you can wear heavy wool socks and/or add a thick innersole. Try to get shoes with dark or tan soles -- red rubber can be difficult to color. You don't have to trim holes in the sides of the shoes -- latchets were often made with closed sides. Trimming the shoe is easy. Get a strong pair of sicssors, trim back from below the top lace-hole towards the side-seam in a circle. Curve up toward the bottom of the tongue so that the remainder of the leather flap with the lace-holes is removed. You may have to trim back, remove, or color the lining if it shows in the cutout.
As you can see from the startups, square toes are period, but finding anything other than used boots with square toes is difficult. Be sure you have several pairs of long stockings -- Jason Townsend & Sons have the best selection. You can wear a second pair of short heavy wool socks over the stockings, and turn their tops down over the shoes for a comfortable, period look.
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