Inspired by Pam’s “shoe” theme, I started browsing the web and found some great sites on 19th century shoes. Being a visual writer, a picture can spawn an entire story so I thought I’d share some of the interesting sites, pictures and tid-bits I found.
First up are antique 19th century embroidered shoes, which I adore! These are my kind of dress shoes! (Site: Angel Fire)
I happen to have a bit of a green fetish and just love these suede 5-strap button shoes.
Some shoe history from My Vintage Sole:
- The 19th Century Shoes were lace-up styles and became popular in the late 1800’s and continued into the early decades of the 20th century. The lace-up shoes or boots are higher than the button-up shoes. The reason could have been that laces could be drawn tighter, giving more support for the high top.
- An interesting point regarding Victorian Morality (Victorian Era 1837-1901) is that women’s ankles were to be covered to protect them from men’s prying eyes. Ironically though, the intricate tight lacings of the ankle boots had a titilating effect.
- The higher, front-laced 19th Century shoes/boots had sturdier soles and became even more popular when Queen Victoria started wearing them at her Scottish castle Balmoral. The two-toned lace up boots have been known as Balmorals since then.
- Glimpses of the foot exposed while walking inspired bootmakers to adorn their creations with silk fabrics and metallic thread embroidery. For revealing shapely ankles, buttons were preferred over laces.
- In the 1890’s, ornately decorated boots with flowers and birds were worn by opera-goers and became known as “opera boots.”
- During this time period walking boots could be functional as well as fashionable. Sensible, utilitarian boots were a cold-weather staple in the latter half of the 19th century. The typical walking boot was lined with flannel, had a half inch heel and cost about $5.50.
- The early 20th Century is often referred to as the Edwardian Era (1901-1910) after Queen Victoria’s successor, King Edward VII. The elite of this day also referred to this time as the Belle Epoque, or “Beautiful Age”.
- In 1850 shoes become “crooked”, meaning they are designed so that there is a difference between the right and left foot.
- In the 1860’s the “Louis” heel (curved outline, flared at base) appear on shoes and are still commonly seen on shoes and boot to this day.
- In 1870 the high-button shoe or boot is in fashion. The most common high-button shoes that we associate with have the flap of leather that folds over the front and is fastened by buttons on the side.
- A button-hook (metal hook used to pull button through button hole) is an essential tool for everyone owning a pair of high button shoes.
How about you? What is your favorite type of shoe?
**I also found a great page titled How to dress like a gentleman– A guide on the history of the gentlman’s shoe-dress like a true gent—a fun site if you’re interested!