Spats are a type of shoe accessory worn in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Spats as items of uniform

Spats are still used as a traditional accessory in many marching band uniforms in the United States.

French infantry wore white spats for parade and off duty wear until 1903. Italian soldiers wore a light tan version until 1910 and the Japanese Army wore long white spats or gaiters during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.

Spats continue as a distinctive feature of the Scottish dress of Highland pipe bands, whether civilian or military. The modern Royal Regiment of Scotland, into which all Scottish line infantry regiments were amalgamated in 2006, retain white spats as part of their uniform. Prior to that date most Scottish infantry units in the British Army wore spats. For Highland regiments in kilts spats reached halfway up the calf. For Lowland regiments in trews spats were visible only over the boots.

Most regiments of the modern Indian and Pakistani Armies wear long white spats into which trousers are tucked, as part of their parade dress. Other full dress uniforms which still include spats are those of the Finnish Army, Portuguese Republican National Guard, the Carabiniers of Monaco and the Italian Military Academy of Modena. In the Finnish Navy, spats are part of the winter uniform. They are colloquially known as Scrooge McDucks. The U.S. Navy Honor Guard and Rifle Guard still wear them while performing ceremonies. .

Spats for safety

Spats are still used today in certain industries for safety reasons. In foundries molten metal pourers often wear leather spats to keep splashes of molten metal from burning their feet. Even a small splash that lodges in a shoe or between the shoe and ankle could cause a severe burn. Many welders also wear leather spats for protection from sparks and metal splash. Some chainsaw operators wear protective leather spats to prevent injury from accidental chainsaw contact with the foot or ankle.

In Japan, the term "spats" refers to leggings.

In American football, the act of taping the outside of one's cleats using athletic tape is known as "spatting."

Spats in popular culture

In the popular movie, Some Like it Hot, a mobster was nicknamed "Spats" because of his tendency to wear them. In addition, the recent ITV series Poirot featured this article being worn by the title character. P.G. Wodehouse used this to a large extent in his books to typify the young men of the age, e.g., "Young Men in Spats."

The Disney comic and cartoon character Scrooge McDuck, a stereotypical capitalist, wore a top hat and spats—but no shoes.

Spats were also worn by the Swedish rock band, The Hives.

The classic 1929 jazz standard "Puttin' On the Ritz" by Irving Berlin features a lyric describing the wealthy men of New York City: "High hats and Arrow collars, white spats and lots of dollars..."

The Nicholas Brothers are seen wearing spats during their famous tap-dance-off over Dorothy Dandridge to the strains of Chattanooga Choo Choo in the 1941 film, "Sun Valley Serenade."

Spats are also mentioned in the musical Chicago when Billy Flynn is singing the song All I Care About he says "I don't care for wearing Silk Cravats; Ruby studs or Satin Spats...".

In the animated TV show The Simpsons, C. Montgomery Burns owned shares in a fictitious defunct company "Amalgamated Spats". In the 19th season premiere episode He Loves To Fly And He D'oh's, Mr. Burns has a shopping list on which "spats" is second on the list, along with: "laudanum," "cotton gin," "cell phone" and "Brooklyn Dodgers."

In the Smooth Criminal segment of his film Moonwalker, Michael Jackson can be seen wearing spats.

In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Francie's younger brother Neely is proud of having bought a pair of spats.

A character called "The Rat in Spats" is a rat wearing spats who will angrily step on anyone who mocks his shoes; based on the Cat in Hat from the Fairly Oddparents episode "Shelf Life."

The Count (Count von Count) on Sesame Street wears spats in some illustrated books.

The rather surreal lyrics of the song Cleopatra's Cat by the Spin Doctors mention Cleopatra's favorite cat coveting Julius Caesar's spats.

In The Honeymooners episode: "Twas The Night Before Christmas," Ed Norton (Art Carney) buys Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) a pair of spats for Christmas.

The second or third line (depending on the version) of Woad features spats as one of many articles of clothing inferior to woad.

In the musical Cats, a fat, upper-class cat named Bustopher Jones dresses in a snappy tuxedo and white spats. He is also the topic of a song in which the phrase "Bustopher Jones in white spats" is repeated as part of the chorus.

In State College, Pennsylvania just off the campus of Pennsylvania State University, there is a restaurant named "Spats." It is named as such in honor of the Blue Band, Penn State's large, award winning marching band which traditionally wears spats as part of their uniform.

Wrestler Jeff Hardy is always seen wearing spats.

Batman's greatest enemy, the Joker, wears spats as part of his 1920's mobster-type costume.

Another of Batman's enemies, the Penguin, wears spats over his black shoes as part of the black full dress tailsuit he favors.

See also

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