An excerpt from The Good Wiccan Guide – Part One: Introduction and Popular Mythology.
Once again, the typical shoe worn by the quintessential fashionable witch is pointy. When making simple shoes out of leather the most basic shape is triangular. Such shoes were worn by men and women of the early royal courts. At some point in the high Middle Ages the shoes became longer and longer. They were called pigaches, or poulines, or poulaines. They were considered to be quite provocative and phallic. Young men would stuff the long ends with wool to make them even more obscenely “erect,” with curled up ends. They were considered quite mischievous. Long pointy shoes with bells on the end are associated with court jesters and elves.
They were nicknamed ‘winklepickers’ and ‘Satan’s Claw’ shoes by the 13th century. The churches eventually intervened in the wearing of them, saying such shoes prevented men from praying on their knees. Can you believe that they started to regulate the length of shoes! Next time you get upset at your government for silly laws, imagine these! You had to have a certain level of income to wear certain shoes. Commoners could only wear shoes 6” long; Landowners up to 12.” Knights could wear a foot and a half length. A baron had it made, and was able to wear shoes up to 24”. The Prince was allowed to wear shoes as long as he like. In the 1400s, Pope Urban V banned all of these winklepicker shoes.
Women in the 15th century picked up the long pointy “man” toe fashion for a short time. And later, as witches became associated with sexual/sensual imagery and anti-church activities, the pouline style pointed shoes got attached to them permanently.
Black buckled Edwardian shoes are also often associated with a “witch look.” Along with the 17th and 18th century fashion look that ascribes the hat to the witch wardrobe, this witch fashion trend has lasted well up into the 21st century.