I don’t know about you, but I always find footwear the hardest part of vintage dressing. My UK size 8/US size 10.5 feet are fairly big by today’s standards and were quite literally non-existent during the mid-century. This means that true vintage is off-limits. Combine this with being a veggie (although I don’t mind giving second-hand leather a home) and finding shoes becomes an absolute nightmare!
Winter is fast approaching and my flimsy little flats aren’t really going to cut it in the cold and wet weather. So I’ve been doing my research and have put together a little mood-board of ideas to help me find exactly what I’m looking for.
Flats & Low Heels
While I love the aesthetic of high heels they won’t ever replace flats in my daily life – they’re just too comfortable! I tend to stick to ballet shoes which I can pick up from pretty much any high street clothing store so this list is something a little different for me!
Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly were huge fans of Penny loafers. There are lots of different types of loafer (slipper, tassel, mule etc) but the Penny loafer is one of the more classic shapes of the 1950’s. These mostly came in black, brown and white and were usually patent being made of leather or plastic with a small heel.
While Penny might be your girl if you’re into classic vintage, the moccasin is a good pick if you love a vibrant twist to your outfit. Bright colours, muted colours, bold stitching, hidden stitching, tassels, beading… you could quite literally have whatever you wanted when it came to moccasins. Although these were loved more by the younger generations in the mid 1950’s, you could definitely rock a pair of these at any age.
While saddle shoes have been around since the 1920’s, they became a popular addition to an American woman’s wardrobe in the late 40’s and 50’s. These were often teamed with white socks and were more for casual and sporty looks. They look as good with a pair of jeans as they do with a skirt and they come in a really wide range of colour combinations so there’s lots of flexibility with this style of shoe.
For the days where rain isn’t a problem and numb feet don’t bother you, the ballet flat is perfect. During the 40’s and 50’s the simple ballet shoe was seen as more of a house shoe than something you’d venture outdoors in. But thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s declaration of shoe love, their popularity boomed and endless combinations of colours, fabrics and detailing were born. These will go with pretty much anything and are a staple in my wardrobe even when the temperature drops!
Snow and high-heeled shows aren’t exactly good friends. Kitten heels are a perfect choice for a vintage heel in the colder months as they’re still elegant enough to compliment your outfit, but practical enough that you avoid any slipping hazards. These usually came with a pointed toe, although round toes became more popular during the late 50’s, and were usually made of very soft leathers or velvet.
So I’ll take one of all of the above please! While I’m yet to find my dream shoe store, putting this list together has actually really helped me know what to keep my peepers out for. Stay tuned for part two where I take a look at boots and waterproofs.