What's with the boots that the handmaids wear? They look like a World War I design, but they don't seem to be fit for the purpose of the role, in terms of the functionality.

  • Is there any functionality in particular you're expecting from the shoes of breeding slaves? Jun 3, 2021 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


According to Ane Crabtree, costume designer for The Handmaid's Tale,

Designing the color-coded uniforms for various classes of people in the totalitarian theocracy in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale presented several challenges for costume designer Ane Crabtree. Symbolism was paramount, since even the smallest details (like the handmaids' laced boots) give viewers clues. "The boot symbolism, all the laces, shows a kind of mental oppression," she says. "The wings, or bonnets, on the heads of the handmaids, as birthed by Margaret Atwood [who wrote the novel on which the series is based], were a way to control their gaze. It is also a kind of mind control — making them feel like little girls in bonnets to take away their power."

So, using those boots was a conscious decision made by the costume designer for the series, to represent the mind control, or mental oppression, ever-present, of the maids.

  • Since I don't watch the series, I had to google the costumes. Where are the laced boots? (All I see are "slouchy" suede hiking boots.) And the bonnets are slightly over-sized versions of bonnets I've seen before in pictures; very effective at shading the Sun. If anything, they're more like blinders,
    – RonJohn
    Jun 3, 2021 at 12:59

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