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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. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    Jonathan - this has been great.

    Now, if you don't mind, several unrelated questions:

    Could you define doeskin for us?

    Is there anything that can be done about gold leather or metallic lame/brocade shoes that start to turn green?

    And speaking of suede - your thoughts on these green suede and gator shoes would be appreciated!


  2. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    I have a little "add on" to Hollis's question...

    also on metallic,etc, shoes one can't just touch them up with shoe polish. Is there any way to repair or correct them once there is a little scuff or rub?
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Doeskin is literally the skin of a doe -- a very thin buttery suede. However, the term was applied to any fine suede that simulated the same quality. It is rare to find doeskin suede after 1965 but on extremely fine footwear. I have found it more often in fine shoes of the 1920s - 1930s. THe suede that was typically offered in the 80s and 90s was much coarser. Real doeskin looks like the finest velvet. ALthough a very fine quality, it doesn't put up with wear very well and takes on a shine easily.
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Hollis: Your green shoes are end of WW2. First of all, the cuban heel is typical of the early-mid 1940s although you can find it used from the 1910s to 1980s. Also, the 'Dutch' toe, so called because it resembles the snub toe of the Klompen, or Dutch clog. It is also called a 'walled toe' and was commonly used in shoes around the end of the war. Also, the use of exotic leather was typical during the war because suede and reptile leather wasn't used for military use because it was too fragile. Most of the good quality shoes one finds at this time use exotic leathers. Alligator of course could be had easily within the U.S. and even in Germany reptile shoes are far more common than leather shoes during the war.
  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Regarding metallic leathers and brocades.

    FIrst of all, when you get green it means that the shoes have been stored at too high a humidity. It is verdigris, the natural oxidation one finds in copper based metals. You can clean off the green with alcohol (the rubbing kind, not rum... although vodka works well if you are in a pinch, your shoes will just smell like a martini)

    The only problem is that when you remove the green it is more than likely you might also remove the metal as the metal surface of leather is so thin that any oxidation usually goes right to the leather. Brocades are the same problem. When you have real gold thread, you won't get the verdigris, it is only when you have a thin gold plated copper core metal fibre that this will happen.

    A conservator can disguise the loss with gilding the lost colour area, but there is no quick and easy solution.
  6. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    When did shanks start to be put in the soles of shoes?

  7. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    SHanks, for those not familiar with the term, are a metal support placed between the inner and outer sole. Their purpose is to support the arch of the shoe and foot when the shoe utilizes a heel. The leather sole can sag, and your feet hurt when a shank isn't used in the construction.
    In the 18th century, when heels were high, shanks were not used, but deportment of the day had ladies walking toe heel, rather than heel toe, as we walk today.
    When heels came back into fashion in the 1860s, and became quite high in the 1870s, the problem of the lack of a support in the sole was noticed. I can't remember the exact year that shanks were re-introduced into footwear and I can't find my reference, but it was in the early 1880s. You can tell when they are used because you can't bend the sole, it is stiff and unforgiving. This is part of the movement towards making sturdier footwear, the re-introduction of left and right foot shapes, and the introduction of width sizing.
  8. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    Shanks in the arly 1880's eh? Well that helps narrow down the dates of my shoes then! :)

    I have a parade of weird shoes that have me puzzled..I asked about shanks as 3 pairs don't have any.

    The first pair I thought at first may have been mid 1880's BUT they don't have any shanks in them at all.
    Also, the shape of the toe and soles is confusing me as I recently got a pair of those typical c. 1840- 1860 white kid leather elastic side booties that have an identical shape sole and toe as these weird black shoes.
    Are these 1860's then? Day wear shoes? They obviously have been worn outside as the soles have pockmarks from pebbles and stuff. They have a suede heel stiffener at the back of the heels and a wool type fabric inner sole.

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes1.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes2.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes3.jpg">

    These Fuschia? Wine? silk satin boots don't have shanks either. I'm thinking about late 1870's for these but the soles and toe shape seem a bit earlier. Are those Pinet heels? I can't imagine walking on these as the heel doesn't sit flat on the ground but juts out at the back.

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes11.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes12.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes13.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes14.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes15.jpg">

    Then I have these that at first, thought they were 1880's but they have no shanks and have that stubby, short look that 1860's boots tend to have. The toes are square and the soles perfectly straight. The toes and the toe seam remind me of that first pair of weird black shoes. 1865?

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes8.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes9.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes10.jpg">

    And then there are these....

    Now this pair has shanks so i know that they are after 1880's then and probably after 1900 because of the heel height? My question is, what the heck are they??!! I'm getting a riding boot kind of vibe off them but they aren't like any other antique riding boot I have seen (mind you, the only two I have seen are mine!). They have those weird Louis heels too that don't quite sit flat on the ground.

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes4.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes5.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes6.jpg">

    <img src="/shoeworkshop/weirdshoes7.jpg">
  9. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Okay, your first pair are sport's shoes, and have no heels, so a shank is not needed and not wanted because you will need the flexibility for activity in wearing them. I would think they are Edwardian, but they might be as early as the 1880s.

    The second pair are, I would think, early 1870s when the heel has come back, but the shank is not yet part of the construction of shoes. The shape of the heel is the newest element of the boots, as they could be late 1860s, but with that shape heel, which isn't quite a Pinet heel (Pinet heels are a little taller, thinner and usually use top stitching), places them into the 1870s but not much after the mid 1870s. I wouldn't think post 1877 at the latest.

    Your third pair are typical everyday boots of the late 1860s up to the early 1880s. Again, they are low heeled, so no shank is required, but they also most likely predate shanks. They look to be made of fustian, which is a wool cotton blend and very durable (although moths often love this material)

    And your 4th pair... hmmm.... a bit of an odd duck pair. They do have a bit of riding boot look about them, and they may be, but they are definatley not an urban pair of boots. They look like something made in the country by a hand shoemaker, or maybe they are even something middle European, but again country made, perhaps Czech or BUlgarian or something like that, maybe even German... They sort of resemble folk wear boots, but being completely devoid of decoration makes them look very every dayish, not for dress-up. I don't know.
  10. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    but deportment of the day had ladies walking toe heel, rather than heel toe, as we walk today.

    I bet they didn't get very far very fast! But, maybe that was a safety feature as walking fast heavily corseted, etc would put you out of breath. You wouldn't want to have to fall on your fainting couch, would you? Kind of like hobbling a horse at that time.

    A bit of a culture supposition here and please correct me if i am way off.... . I am just sort of thinking aloud. I would imagine the countryside gals would walk heel to toe just like natural instinct and the upper class ladies and the urbane, au courant stylish ladies would look down upon them as ill bred with their mannish strides (although of course a regular woman's walk is different than a man's due to anatomy even if the are clumping along).
  11. rjroni1

    rjroni1 Registered Guest

    Hi I was wondering about a date for these. Says "FlexRay" Last 22? <p>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/40sh323.jpg><p>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/40sh324.jpg><p>
    <img src=/shoeworkshop/40sh326.jpg><p>
    I have really enjoyed reading all this information about shoes, thank you Jonathon for sharing it!<p>
    I was also wondering if you have any shoe cleaning do's and don’ts. These shoes have a material feel and I am afraid to try to clean then, any suggestions?
  12. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    Jonathan, I have really enjoyed this workshop.

    I have a couple of questions about platforms.

    The first pair, I'm guessing is early 50s. They are snakeskin and suede. When exactly would sandals like have been worn? The materials seem to say "day" and "winter", but the styling says "night" and "summer".

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/MVC-005S.JPG>

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/Mvc-006s.jpg>

    Sorry the pictures are a little dark. The toes are open.

    The second pair I really just need you to explain what distinguishes them from earlier platforms. I'll admit that one of the things I use to tell 70s from 40s is the label and font, but these shoes are Evins, which did seem to change much. Please tell me style-wise the difference between this shoe and its earlier sisters.

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/MVC-001S.JPG>

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/Mvc-004s.jpg>

    And totally unrelated:

    These little white boots with the square toes would be how old? I know from the shank question that they have no shank.

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/Mvc-007s.jpg>

    <img src=/shoeworkshop/MVC-008S.JPG>

    Again, thanks for such an informative workshop!

  13. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Firstly, regarding deportment, you are absolutely correct. The manner in which ladies of quality walked toe-heel was entirely fabricated to make them appear more noticeably genteel and aristocratic. A well bred lady was certainly not in a hurry to go anywhere fast and walking in her high heeled shoes in a toe-heel step was not intended to get her from point A to point B in a hurry. This studied way of walking fell from favour in the lae 18th/early 19th century, when real walking became fashionable (called pedestrianism at the time).

    The highly mannered movements were invented in the mid 17th century when the ruling aristocrats wished to appear more noble. In England, the plummy Queen's English accent was invented, in France Louis XIV invented ballet and soon aristocrats all over Europe were bowing and tip toe-ing all over the place.

    Most of the dances invented or perfected during this period all took place on the toes, as they were early ballet moves used in dances like the Minuet. The common people continued to walk normally and danced country dances that didn't rely on toe-heel steps. Toe heel steps in dances continued right up to the 20th century, even though walking in that manner was considered a little too studied and snotty after 1800. However, fashion models continued to walk in that manner well into the 1960s as it continued to be though of as the proper way to walk when you were on show.
  14. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    The Flex Ray shoes are mid-late 1930s.
    The peep toe develops in the the early 1930s, as does the evening sandal, but this pair has a very high cut vamp and heel, and the vamp is cut to simulate a sandal even though it's actually a peep toes pump.
    I would say they dated between 1935 and 1938.

    CLeaning tips... hmmm....
    One thing that many people don't do, which is a really excellent way to clean textile shoes is a vacuum. A low powered vaccuum with a brush attachment can remove amazing amounts of surface dirt and sometimes totally clean a pair of textile shoes. If you have a mark on a pair of shoes you can also try an art gum eraser, they work great many of the times. You know, its those big beige erasers that are used to clean pencil and charcoal marks. Just use it very gently as it will rub through a pair of old silk shoes pretty quickly if you are not careful.

    Armed with those two tools, I bet you will find that most of your textile shoes clean up really well.
  15. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    That first pair of suede and snakeskin shoes are really yummy. You are right on about the date, c. 1950 - 1952 would be my bet. I would definately say they are perfect for a cocktail length dress or suit that are dressy, but plain. Maybe a black velvet suit, or black wool open neckline dress -- something very New Looky. I would say they are for winter even though they are summery because of the open toe and sling back, but let's face it, when you are going from a taxi into a restaurant with a canopied entrance, you don't need gumboots!

    The white boots are typical wedding boots of the mid 1860s - mid 1870s. THey didn't change much for a very long time. I don't think you will find that heel much before 1865, although it continues afterwards, but that square toe and height of boot are very typical of the late 1860s and early 1870s. I have seen maybe 20 pairs of boots that look almost identical to this with writing on the bottom of things like 'My Wedding boots, 1874', and 'Grandma Jone's wedding boots, Jan 1867'...

    That leaves the hard question last...Your David Evins shoes. DAvid Evins is one of the star American shoe designers and his career spanned a long period of time. He started in the mid 1940s and was very active until the early 1970s, but was working as late as the mid 1980s. He made the inaugural shoes for Nancy Reagan in 1980 and 1984. He worked for I.Miller, and also had a long list of private clients, in fact that is where he is best known, in his one off, or bespoke footwear, essentially couture shoes.

    I dont' know when his label changed, if ever. I have seen early 50s shoes from Evins with that exact label in them, and I have seen the same of his shoes from about 1975. Whether he had a different label earlier, I don't know.

    THe shoes are not screaming one period or the other, but there are some clues that do point to a date. The inside of the shoes is typical of fine shoes that you find from the 1930s to the 1980s, so that isn't very helpful. The colour of the interior, the style of label and numbering is a bit old fashioned once you get into the 1970s, but still around.

    So, we have to go to the style of shoe. The small platform is typical of the mid 40s - early 50s, and also most of the 1970s, so again no help. The colours used are also typical of either period, although the combination of those colours suggest the later date. It is rare to find a shoe THAT colourful from the 1940s, the colour sense tends to be a little more subdued in the 40s, or at least not more than 3 colours max.

    The other clues for making this a 70s shoes are the width of the straps. Although you find wide straps on sandals in the 40s, these are REALLY wide and the back straps of the 40s shoes are usually either narrower, or are instep straps with a heel quarters. This type of wide back strap just isn't used in the 40s. Also the heel shape isn't quite right for the 40s. The heel is just too blocky and straight. A 40s heel would be more tapered towards the top lift, not so straigh up and down.

    I daresay that Evins was heavily influenced by earlier styles in this pair, as many early 70s shoes were influenced by 1940s styles, and that always creates a problem. The style of label is a good thing to use for dating a shoe when you aren't sure, but in this case its useless because Evins had been around forever, and using that label for a very long time.

    I have problems telling the difference between some 1970s platforms and 1990s platforms and have to rely on the labels to help give me a clue as to which one is which.
  16. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    Jonathan, I still haven't gotten around to diggning out a couple of
    turn of the century shoes/boots I have, but wanted to thank you for this
    workshop. Totally enjoyed reading all the posts and have learned such
    an incredible amount - now to try and retain some of the info! :)

  17. theopshoproc

    theopshoproc VFG Member

    Hi, I just spent the last hour reading through this workshop and I learned so much so far!!

    I'd like to really ask that the people who posted pictures please leave those pics up on your photo hosting servers indefinitely so that we can continue to view this thread in the future and actually "see" what Jonathan is talking about.
  18. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Can they be transferred to the site's server? you never know who will change photo hosting services someday and might forget about the individual picture. Just a thought..or everyone use "attach photo" instead of a url?.
  19. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    We might be able to save this onto the server... I will ask Debs, or maybe she is lurking and can answer...
  20. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Dear Mr. Shoe guy,

    I have shoewearaphobia and I need your help! (Dear Abby and Dear Ann Landers and Dr. Phil would just laugh at me so I am writing in to you. LOL) I am the proud owner of mirror heeled pumps. I am afraid to wear them to an occassion for fear of damaging them (I am not the most graceful type. Should I just look at them and not wear or only wear them indoors? besides looking freakish with wrapping bubble wrap around the heels when i walk...how should i proceed to care for these? Or do they belong only in the closet ?

    80s Charles Jourdan pumps..though when in the 80s i know not. Its very sunny out so you might not get the full heel effect as the sun is directly in them:)

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