The first third of the 19th century, the setting of my books, offers all kinds of entertaining & fascinating apparel. But not so much the shoes. So far as I can ascertain, they were all flat soled, and came in two styles: half-boots or ballet slippers. This was the case, even in the 1830s, when women's fashions became flamboyant to a nutty degree. As Rachel of the FIDM Museum blog explains in her post about these beautiful evening boots, flat shoes remained in fashion well into the century.
We often hear people decry high-heeled shoes as bad for the back and knees. But early 19th century shoes, with their thin soles, wouldn’t win any prizes from podiatrists, either. (Not long ago, I heard one lecture at length about the evils of flip-flops.) And as pretty as the flat shoes might have been, I would vastly prefer more variety in the up and down department.
The slap-sole shoes in particular fascinated me. If any historical dress experts want to hold forth about them, please feel free. And if any of you has a theory about why the flat shoe stayed in fashion for so many decades in the 19th century, you are in the unique position of having, here at 2NHG, the kind of audience who actually wants to hear it.
And for those who haven't had enough shoes, here's the antithesis of the Regency ballet-style shoe.
At lower right is a shoe I absolutely love, dated 1909-1914, and courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540. You can find the complete record here.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.