Clogs are a type of footwear made in part or completely from wood. Clogs are used worldwide and although the form may vary by culture, within a culture the form often remained unchanged for centuries.
Traditional clogs remain in use as protective footwear in agriculture and in some factories and mines. Although clogs are sometimes negatively associated with cheap and folkloric footwear of farmers and the working class, some types of clogs are considered fashion wear today, such as Swedish träskor or Japanese geta.
Clogs are also used in several different styles of dance. When worn for dancing an important feature is the sound of the clog against the floor. This is one of the fundamental roots of tap, but with the tap shoes the taps are free to click against each other and produce a different sound from clogs.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a clog as a "thick piece of wood", and later as a "wooden soled overshoe" and a "shoe with a thick wooden sole".
Welsh traditional clog maker Trefor Owen identified three main varieties of clogs: wooden upper, wooden soled and overshoes.
These divisions are not fixed: some overshoes look more like whole foot clogs, like Spanish albarca, whilst other wooden soled clogs raise and protect clothing in the way that overshoes do, such as Japanese geta.
The type of upper determines how the clogs are worn. Whole foot clogs need to be close fitting and can be secured by curling the toes. In contrast wooden soled clogs are fastened by laces or buckles on the welt and therefore the toes are relaxed as in shoes. Half open clogs may either be secured like whole foot clogs, or have an additional strap over the top of the foot. Some sandal types, and in particular toe peg styles, are worn more like "flip-flops" and rely on the grip between the big and next toe.
Being wood, clogs cannot flex under the ball of the foot as softer shoes do. To allow the foot to roll forward most clogs have the bottom of the toe curved up, known as the cast. Some styles of clogs have "feet", such as Spanish albarca. The clog rotates around the front edge of the front "feet". Japanese and Indian clogs may have "teeth" or very high pegs attached to the soles. The clog can rotate around the front edge of the front "tooth" as the wearer strides forward. Some medieval pattens were in two pieces, heel through to ball and ball to toes. Joining the two was a leather strip forming a hinge, thus allowing the shoe above to flex.
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