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Everything you ever wanted to know about shoes, but were afraid to ask...

Discussion in 'All About Shoes 2004 Jonathan' started by Jonathan, Oct 31, 2004.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    As for costs in producing widths, that is exactly what it is all about. Shoe companies are not going to invest in weird widths and lengths if they can't sell the merchandise.
    Expensive shoes are offered in a wider range of widths, which is one reason why they are expensive shoes. The costs of unsold merch is figured into the sale price.
    You can still buy two pairs in different widths or lengths, no salesperson should be stupid enough to talk you out of doing that!
    Most people have one foot slightly larger than the other. Right handed people tend to have slightly larger right foots, and left handed, larger left foots, but hopefully the difference is minimal and can be compensated for by finding the right pair of shoes to make up for this difference.
  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Let me come back to the dating of Victorian boots a bit later...

    The pair of stiletto heeled shoes you posted Linda are early 60s. The heel is straight and thin and the toe pointed and shallow. I would date those to 1961-63.
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    The felt slippers pictured are a style of house shoe, or slipper that has been around since the the end of the 19th century and were made well into the 1960s, maybe even 1970s.

    They changed very little over the years and were commonly made in Czechoslovakia in huge quantites for export. With the rubber heel and high throat I would guess these would date from the 1930s - 1950s, but can't be anymore specific.
  4. Thanks, Jonathan! I am surely going to save this thread to my Favorites!
  5. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Just putting this picture here so I remember it for when you explain the differentiation between 50s/60s and 70s/80s. I am assuming regular pumps followed closely the silhouettes of the stillettos...they just didn't have the stilletto features. what other things should we be looking for (aside from the colors and the look of the labels.) to seperate the "revival" from the real deal. (this are from the 80s but i am sure i didn't have to say so.)

  6. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Okay, so now we will do the return of the stiletto...

    THe stiletto came back in the mid 70s, at first still fairly thick, but by 1978 a thin stiletto re-emerged. There were outcries about how it was going to be the downfall of the woman's movement and civilization as we knew it, but let's face it, high heels do wonders for the foot and leg from an aesthetic point of view, and vanity is always a powerful source.

    The first stage of the stiletto is representative in this pair from 1978 (worn in June 1978 with a prom dress). THe heel is thin but not overly curvaceous. The platform, ankle strap and pleated leather decoration on the outside of the vamp are all typical features of the 1970s and overpower the stiletto as a dating tool. In fact you will find that the stiletto is often historically identical to the stiletto of the late 1950s and early 1960s and can be very difficult to use it as a tool to date a shoe alone, so you must rely on other features.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a1.jpg>

    The next three examples are from 1979/80 and the stiletto is now thinner, but still not too curvaceous, almost straight. The garnet colour is a give away, as well as this type of ankle boot, and the vamp ornaments which are typical the 1980s. In the case of the sandals, the heels are just SO high, and no shoe outside of fetish wear was ever that high in the 1950s/60s, and the open toe is too open. Open toes in the 1950s are usually smaller peep styles.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a2.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a3.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a4.jpg>

    This next example is typical of most stiletto heels in the mid 80s, more triangular in shape. The printed suede, assymetical throat ornaments, and the "V" shaped opening all make this typical of 80s wear. The pair patentleather pictured in the post above also use this "V" shaped throat, which is typical of the 80s and wasn't used at all in the early 60s, or at least I can't think of any examples...
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a5.jpg>

    The next two examples from the mid-late 80s have early 60s style stiletto heels, but other clues in the shoe date them to the 80s, including a scalloped top line and back seam bows.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a6.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a7.jpg>

    This shoe by Roger Viver from the late 1980s looks like it could be from the early 60s, but again the open toe is too open for an early date, and the material used to make the shoe is window screening. Novelty materials like this are kept to a minimum in the late 50s/early 60s, although you will find all sorts of new and experimental synthetic materials, like corfam and neolite, as well as some plexi and clear vinyl used.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a10.jpg>

    I don't think anyone would confuse this shoe for an earlier time period, but its interesting that the metal rod was made a feature in this pair. The first time I saw this type of heel was on the feet of a playboy centrefold in 1979 (I guess I should have known something was wrong since I remember her shoes better than her boobs) This pair though is from about 1990 and very cheap. It seems the style of shoe remained popular with a certain type...
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a9.jpg>

    And these last two examples of stiletto heels are from the early 1990s.
    They are both playing around with the shape, curving it under or flaring it. In the mid 90s I kept reading fashion writers proclaim the high heel was dead, and then the next week say it was back in again. Back and forth, Back and forth. Stiletto's did subside a bit, with louis heels, chunky heels, and platforms making a comeback, but they never really went entirely away. By the late 1990s the stiletto was back in and they still can't seem to get rid of them.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a8.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/a11.jpg>
  7. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Okay, what about the 90s then as you brought them up? There has been mention of describing 90s styles (common mention, not specifically mentioned here...) as "90s doing 40s"..."90s version of 60s whatever"...in your opinion was there any truly novel shoe idea or sihouette that occurred in the 80s/90s or is the decade to you more fin de ciel (sp?) fin di siele? Okay...i will try not to spell it,....end of century and an eclectic review of various earlier styles of the century...and =yawn= nothing truly new.???

    and then tomorrow i will post my "90s doing 40s" platform heels as it is late and i don't want to wake someone up to get em out of the closet and photograph them.....to ask Qs

    ...and on to ask more in depth about one of my favorite shoe genres...the PLATFORM
    (but i want pics to back up my q's)....
  8. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I am just beginning to collect the 90s now myself, so my own collection is far from complete. Certainly variations of the louis heel and the platform were both important trends in the 1990s -- both revivals of past styles, but tweaked just a little to make them very 90s in style.

    Two examples of the louis heel: an almost academic revival of an early 20s shoe, but with an elastic vamp, by Walter Steiger c. 1992:
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/b1.jpg>

    A John Fluevog version of the louis heel, but over-exagerrated and used with a platform sole, c. 1995:
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/b2.jpg>

    And two variations of platform shoes from the mid 1990s - one a little Goth, the other a little Girl power...

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/b3.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/b4.jpg>
  9. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    sorry for all the more modern shoes guys but inquiring minds want to know and I think it is good from a "vintage inspirations" perspective.

    Okay..lets see if i have applied my new knowledge. the shoes in the middle have a Louis heel, is that correct? (i bought these in about 91-93 i want to say.

    The ones in the background are platform heels...obviously.. and I want to say i bought them 1996ish.

    The ones in the front i don't know if they are 80s or 90s..bought em from a vintage store but because of the rubber heel cap thought they were newer and just ended up there. I bought them to wear, not to sell and i just liked them... i am going to review somemore and see if i can guess by the toe shape et al..


    And speaking of platform pumps and platform shoes...ta da!!! 1970.

  10. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    The dates for the first two are bang on, the third one is probalby about 1990ish on the nose. And that green platform pair is probably just a titch later, maybe 1972ish. The platform shoe didn't really get started until 1971/72.
  11. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Okay, so the boot question from Hollis...

    It seems any laced or buttoned boot is sold as 'Victorian' but they are almost never Victorian. A good rule of thumb, although there are a few exceptions to this rule, is that the height of the boot corresponds to the length of the hemline. The shortest boots are usually the older boots and the taller boots, the later ones, dating from the late 1910s, and even early 1920s.

    This first example is a buttoned boot and dates from right around the turn of the century, c. 1897 - 1902. The boot ends just above the ankle and the button closure is scalloped, which is typical of the earlier styles. The heel is also quite low. You rarely get a heel higher than 1 1/2 inches befoe 1910.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c1.jpg>

    This is an advertisement from Eatons, Spring 1901 catalogue showing the exact same type of boots, with the elongated toe, scalloped button closure and low heel.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/1901.jpg>

    THere is just the slightest of change in boot styles over the next 10 years. The toe becomes less elongated, the heel a little bit higher and the scalloped button closure disappear. Two tone boots become popular, but usually done in two dark tones, so the difference between the two colours or textures are subtle. Keep in mind that for the most part, the boot is invisible under the long skirts. Boots for walking and sports costumes are a little bit higher, as the hem exposes the ankle. The topline of the boot was considered unsightly so it was always tall enough to be hidden undeer the skirts.
    Here is a pair of boots from c. 1910, and an advertisement from the Simpson's fall 1908 catalogue:
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c2.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/1908b.jpg>

    THe tall boots begin to come into fashion in 1915 when the hem really begins to shorten. There is a difference between European and AMerican boots at this time. The bulbous toe is briefly fashionable in about 1914 - 1916 this side of the Atlantic, at the same time as round toes, and a revival of the pointed toe so all three styles were available at once. Europe preferred a round toed boot and pretty well stuck to that style until 1918. The louis heel begins to come into fashion around 1916 but it is available at the same time cuban and stacked heels.

    Here are three examples of American and Canadian made boots from about 1915 - 1917 and a couple of pages from Simpson and Eaton catalogues dating 1916/1917. Boots are often now available in more interesting colours, so they compliment the dress or suit, and the two toned styles are usually contrasting in colour, again because the boots are now visible.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c4.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c3.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c7.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/1916.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/1917a.jpg>

    THe final stage of the boot after WW1 is when boots are their tallest, reaching mid calf, and corresponding to the length of the skirt.
    Here is a scan of a catalogue page from Sears, 1919, and a very similar pair of boots of the same year, as well as a louis heeled pair of brown boots from around the same time.
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/1919.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c6.jpg>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/c8.jpg>
  12. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    So Hollis, the two pairs you pictured are both mid 1910s. THe button pair are typical of c. 1917ish, button styles are less popular than laced pairs, only because they take more effort to put on in the morning, so they tend to be worn with dressier outfits. The second pair is a little earlier.
    Scalloped toplines are an option available at the same time as flat toplines. They are generally less popular after 1915, so your brown pair are probably from around 1914.
    It isn't easy to date boots accurately because heel shapes, toe shapes and closures, as well as topline shapes overlap and are available at the same time, but if you keep in mind the height of the boot and heel, and the attention to detail and colour, you will generally find the lower the heel, the lower the boot, and the plainer the style, the earlier the date.
  13. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    "The dates for the first two are bang on, the third one is probalby about 1990ish on the nose."""

    I guess those high reading comprehension/retention scores i was tested for in the first grade are coming in handy! !!

    ..but...What makes them 90sish on the nose so ..ir doesn't have that cut out ltriangle like the 80s heels.....the toe (vamp?) is coming up higher again , but it doesn't quite lean into the squaredoff heel yet or am i just grasping at straws?

    okay...moving on....

    About these victorian and edwardian boots...how do boot silhouettes and features for the menfolks boots compare the the womenfolks you are mostly showing???
  14. Here are some 40s green platforms I have.

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/40sgreenplatforms.jpg><br><br><img src=/shoeworkshop/40sgreenplatforms5.jpg><br><br>
  15. bret

    bret Registered Guest

    I was wondering if you could give us a few tips on conserving foot wear.

    A former consevator of the Natural History Museum in NYC once recommended that I use "Butcher's Wax" on my older leather goods. I have used it successfully on some older leather goods that had started to crock, or sluff off. Are there different products that I should use on different types of leathers?

    Also, is there any product that can retard the crocking on older suedes? I have seen some sprays available in archival cataloges, used by book conservators and was wondering if they would work on suedes?

    What is the best way to store footwear? Should I stuff the toes to retain shape? or is it best to leave the cavity open to allow for ventilation? I know clothing and textiles store best at 50% relative humidity, does this work well for leathers, or should it be higher or lower?

    Thanks in advance for any tips you can give us.
  16. bret

    bret Registered Guest

    Okay, one last quick question...

    A friend's mother was raised in the south. She has always said that patent leather, leather and lizard are day shoes. Fabric and gilt leathers are evening shoes. This is all understandable, but the one part I have always had an issue with is that she also includes suede as an evening shoe. To me suede has always said day shoe. Was there a time when suede was only acceptable as an evening shoe? Is this just an example of how 'the rules' change through out the generations.
  17. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Your sandals that I said were c. 1990ish was due to the heel. It has the slight flaring out at the top lift which is leaning into the louis heel, and yet the toe is still quite pointed in the 80s way. It's a bit of a cros-over period, so that is why I said 1990. It may be as late as 1993, but then the toe is bit old fashioned, and it might be 1988, but then the heel is cutting edge style.
  18. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Those green platforms are fabulous -- I can think of an outfit or two they could go with in my collection...

    However I think that your pair could be as late as 1950ish.

    The platform was originally used on Greek actor's mules, called cothurnus, and were revived at the very end of the 16th century, when they were known as chopines. They were popular in Italy and Spain but found little favour elsewhere, although they were known as far away as England, where Shakespeare comments on them in his play Hamlet "Her Ladyship has returned, altered by the altitude of a Chopine" (or something like that... I am going on memory for that quote)

    They didn't come back again until the very late 1930s. Ferragamo who returned to Italy in the early 30s from his early career in Hollywood, California revived them from his interest in the Italian Renaissance. Fascist Italy looked to the glories of old Rome and the Italian Renaissance for style inspiration the same way Nazi Germany looked to the ancient Germans for inspiration.
    He introduced the idea in a cork soled sandal for beachwear, and as Italy was at war with Abyssinia before the rest of WW2 began, discovered that a shortage of materials also proved the platform to be handy in making up soles of substitute materials. Leather was necessary for making military boots, so civilian women's and even some men's footwear used cork and wood soles.
    In the States after 1941 the platform also found favour, but not in great heights. A new form of construction invented in California, and not surprisingly called "California Construction" in the shoe biz, used a filler platform over which material was glued and stitched creating a small platform foresole. At the end of the war platforms began to increase dramatically and the tallest platform shoes are those made between about 1945 and 1948. After that, the height began to decrease again slowly and was offered along with a variety of other shoe styles. Many women preferred the round toed, high heeled baby doll pump, but the platform was available as late as 1953 in some store catalogues.

    Your green pair are definately after 1948 because of the heel shape, which is more typical of high heel shapes from about 1949 to 1955. The toe is very round which suggests a late 40s date and that "V" cut throat was pretty much out of fashion by 1952. So, your pair of platforms could just be 1940s, 1949ish but it could also be as late as 1952ish.
  19. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Conservation of shoes...

    I worked closely with the conservator at the Bata Shoe Musuem and while she always erred on the cautious side of any treatment of footwear, more than my liking at times, she did have some very good rules.

    1) We always kept our shoes stuffed loosely with crumpled acid free tissue paper, however regular tissue paper is fine for most shoes for a personal collection. You want to keep the shape of the shoe when there isn't a form inside of it to help keep its shape. Wooden lasts are dangerous for shoes or any stretchers as they can mishapen the shoe if they are too tight, since leather shrinks at a different rate than wood and you can end up with a damaged shoe. By the way, these are rules for antique and old shoes, shoes you buy new to wear are fine as the leathers and other materials are still supple.

    2) She never applied wax to any shoes, although I apply wax to my shoes. Her rule was to never introduce anything to an artifact that can not be removed without harming the original surface. I say waxing is good because it protects the leather and makes them look good, but always use a clear wax. Cololured waxes rub off easily onto other surfaces and other shoes, if they are kept in close quarters. Butcher's wax is a clear wax and an excellent choice for waxing your leather shoes. Chemically, all leathers are the same, so one wax for all leather is the same.

    3) Leathers are more susceptible to moulds than cloth and although 50% humidity is fine for shoes, once the humidity passes 65% you may begin to get mould growth. If anything, err on the slightly drier side. Anything down to 40% is fine. Any drier and you may find your leather shoes start shrinking and cracking. The most important factor is consistancy. The worst thing for leather and textiles is a volatile climate where the relatice humidty jumps up and down every season.

    Ideally, shoes should be stored covered, away from light and dust, an buffered from any hard surfaces, so wrapped in felt or cloth is best.

    As for sprays for suede shoes, I don't know about that. I know it was stricty verbotten at Bata, but I must admit I have been known to use it on some of my own suede shoes, but only when absolutely necessary. You certainly don't want your suede shoes to shine.
  20. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    From the older suede shoes that I have seen in collections and catalogues, suede is kind of a bridge between the two extremes, perfect for after 5 wear, but not formal evening wear. I would call it an "afternoon' shoe. Perfect for the theatre, dinner, or fashionable shopping in the afternoon. Most older suede shoes I have seen that date from 1910 to 1960 I would put in this category.

    Of course the rules on suede were tossed out in the 80's when most shoes made between 1985 and 1995 were suede. Because suede is a little more fragile than leather and not as easy upkeep, I think of it as more appropriate for gentler occasions. I remember seeing a lot of dusty and scruffed suede shoes on the subway in the morning and thinking how tatty it looked.

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