And here I thought I was being funny. Here's an article from 1928, describing "Clothing of the 20th Century." (Wasn't it a little too soon to tell for sure?)
Anyway, they specify, in the following passage, that spats are used in wintertime, especially when the shoe is low. So I guess they really *are* for weather. Ah, well, what's old is new again, right? I mean, if the legwarmer fad can have a second go-around, why not spats?
From the article, a paragraph seemingly on weather and utility:
"The Rainy Day-Skirt.Meanwhile, a club was formed in New York City by women who, disgusted with the long and trailing unsanitary skirts, pledged themselves to wear short (that is to say, short for those still prudish days) round skirts on wet days. One called the "trotteur" was also launched by the French modistes for shopping and walking. But there is no doubt that the sensible women, the "rainy Daisies" early in this century, who ran the gantlet of ridicule, were unwittingly responsible for to-day's abbreviated skirts.
Dresses were almost Empire in line before the World War, with a high waistline, long, wrinkled sleeves and slim, clinging skirts fashioned of cepe de Chine, soft satins and georgettes. During the duration of hostilities, dresses of all kinds became short, the shoe top being decreed for a long time the right length. Footwear grew conveniently accommodating, however, and rose to surprising heights, boasting many buttons. So did the spat, of gray, fawn or black, worn above low shoes in winter."
Hahaha. But seriously, ok, it's the little thing on men's shoes. Super duper Victorian. I've never known what it's actually for, though. Maybe to keep snow out of the laces? The Victorian era was really snowy, right?