In addition to the lotus shoes themselves, there were various accessories that were regarded as essential elements in the complete ‘look.’ They were so important that many women would feel ‘naked’ if their ankles and feet were not properly dressed. The accessories included socks, sashes or wrappings, leggings and anklets. They were used to emphasise the lower part of the legs and in particular the tiny size of the feet.
The shoes were sometimes worn with embroidered socks, which were worn during the day. They were usually made from either silk or white cotton and decorated with simple embroidery, usually with a simple floral or geometric design. The importance of socks can be seen by the fact that sixteen pairs of socks with raised and pointed toes and six pairs of shoes were found in the tomb of Huang Sheng (1227-1243) in Fuzhous, Fujian. Madame Zhou (1240-1274) had six pairs of shoes and six pairs of socks in her tomb at De’an Jiangxi.
Lotus bandages or bindings
Lotus bandages or bindings were worn over the top of the foot and up the leg. They were made of either silk or cotton and varied in size depending on their origin, but between about 300 x 5 cm in size was not uncommon. These were often woven to size on the loom. The bandages were wrapped around the legs in various ways. But basically, the foot and leg were wrapped between five and seven times.
Lotus sashes (jiaodai)
Over the bandages were wrapped lengths of silk cloth in various colours. Their colours were chosen to compliment that of the shoes. They were also used to define the lower part of the leg and to help support the foot.
Lotus leggings and anklets (outfu, ziku)
Leggings were used among some women to cover their leg bandages. They also made sure that only the tip of the lotus shoes could be seen. These leggings consisted of an open ended sheath made from silk lined with cotton. They were normally up to 10 cm wide and as long as 30 cm in length. They were usually made up of bands of coloured silk decorated with embroidery or woven braids and with a cotton lining.
Women from the northern regions would often tuck the leg of their trousers into the top of the leggings and then secure the two items with a long sash. The aim was to accentuate the slenderness of the lower leg and ankles. In contrast, southern women tended to wear the leggings underneath the loose trouser legs or they would wrap their ankle with a long strip of dark coloured cloth rather than wear a legging of some form. Sometimes the leggings were sewn to the top of a lotus shoe, turning it into a boot.
Sometimes round heels sewn onto a piece of cloth, were worn. It is not exactly clear exactly how the heels were worn and there are various theories, such as they were bound to the outside of a pair of lotus shoes to give extra height, or that they were worn inside a pair of lotus shoes for the same purpose. Another suggestion is that when a woman got out of bed she might wear these heels until she got dressed.