Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Feet, Shoes and Superstition : Shoes laces, wear marks, and odd socks

Shoelaces at first were viewed with suspicion, partly because as a shoe style, the Oxford shoe was a comparative late addition and worn by dandies. In the 17th and 18th century men wearing lacing Oxfords were considered effeminate and laces came to represent a moral decline. This may account for why a broken shoelace was thought to be bad luck.

Real macho men wore shoes with a rose, buckle or bow fastening and although ornate these were reasonable steadfast.

It took sometime before shoe laces caught on as a fashion. From the time of the Romans tripping was taboo and falling over loose laces was taken to represent a disastrous journey ahead. Later, after shoe laces became fashionable and were part of female footwear undone shoe laces took on a lighter meaning and was taken to mean a true love was thinking about them. Shoelaces which worked undone whilst walking confirmed a father’s love was greater than a mother’s. When the right shoe lace came undone then something good was being said about you and the opposite was true when the left shoe lace was undone.

Not only shoes but shoe-wear was thought to hold secrets of divination. It is well established that superstitious people believed wearing soles with holes in would foretell wealth. When shoes were worn under the toes this meant the person would spend money freely.

"If you wear your shoes out on the toe.
You will spend money as you go”

Toe walkers were more likely to wear their shoes frequently and in an area not easily repaired. Mean people were thought to wear their shoes on the medial side whilst extravagant types wore their shoes out on the lateral aspect. These may date back to the time when shoes were very expensive and cobbling was a cheap alternative.

Shoe makers and cobblers would gauge their clientele accordingly.

An old custom for luck was to leave stockings in shoes overnight. A hole in a sock or stocking indicated the arrival of a letter, whereas if a worm were to crawl into stockings this heralded a new pair was forth coming. Wearing stockings inside out was the sign of a present coming but this could also be associated with bad luck. To avoid this fate, you had to spit on the sock after removing it. Similarly, stockings on the wrong feet needed to be removed at noon and the heel spat on.

In Biblical times spitting in the face was an indignity and spitting in the face of evil (bad luck) was a form of breaking the spell. Later in the New Testament, Jesus used spitting to heal.

Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?"
Mark 8:23

In Greece it was common to spit to ward off evil spirits and in Scotland people still spit on the Heart of Midlothian, on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh for luck.

(Video Courtesy: PeterPiperPeppers Youtube Channel)

Actual spitting was later replaced with the sound "Ptew" and "Ptew, Ptew mi me matiasis", became a common saying to avoid the Evil Eye. Spitting in the hands is common to many sport related superstitions and is thought to bring luck.

Changing odd socks once on the feet foretold an accident, so superstitious people would keep the wardrobe malfunction. In times gone past when gentlemen made a gift of garters to a lady it was good luck to let them to put them on her leg. During World War II many pilots were reported to have worn lady’s nylon stockings around their neck for good luck.

Reviewed 5/09/2018


  1. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups
    thanks once again.

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  2. Hi Cameron

    I'm writing from the Samuel Windsor blog, I hope this finds you well. We're producing an article at the moment about how to get the most from your shoelaces, and would like to use a quote from this page.

    We will of course credit and link to you.

    I hope that's ok - if you have any questions please just drop me a line.

    I'll be sure to let you know when the article's published.

    Kind regards,


  3. I just wanted to let you know that the “How to get the most from your shoelaces" article I mentioned recently ago is now live on the Samuel Windsor blog at:

    Thank you so much for the use of your quote- it’s much appreciated.

    I hope you like the article - please feel free to share it with your networks; there may be something of interest for them there. If you like to use Twitter, there’s a handy tweet link at If you’re more of a Facebook fan, try this link:

    Thanks again

    All the best

    Samuel Windsor blog team

  4. Hi, this morning I noticed two men in front of me in the metro. Both of them had the shoe laces on one shoes undone and tucked away, while the other lace was done in a normal way. Would that be a new trend or secret sign? Have you heard anything about this?
    Thanks, Jens