Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Well Heeled Lady's Guide to 1930s Shoes

At the request of the lovely garofit, here is a little peek at what early- and mid-1930s Sears catalogue images show regarding what women in this era might have been wearing on their feet during more active or casual occasions. I'd love to tell you that flat shoes were the norm, but I must say that it does not look like there were a vastly wide number of public settings where unheeled or flat footwear was abundant. Still, I have previously shown post cards from the 1920s, wherein bathing beauties at the beach are captured wearing canvas beach shoes (indeed, the pair I own is very flat and quite comfy!).  I also did a post in which I noted that flat "gladiator" or "Tropez" sandals were showing up in early 30s fashion periodicals as appropriate and fashionable resort and beach footwear.  (I believe the 1930s Girls About Town over at The Painted Woman have a sandal/beach footwear post in the works, so don't want to step on their toes (hehe) by going too much further on these subjects).  Nevertheless, here are my latest footwear findings (albeit in sometimes blurry, tilted form).

First, I found an image from the Sears catalogue for 1930, depicting rubber soled "Awning Stripe" canvas shoes which are very much like the ones worn by Renee Perle in my previous post.  According to the copy, the shoes were meant to be "especially appealing with those brisk sports ensembles so much in favour."   I imagine one of the brisk sports referred to would be tennis?  To the right of these early tennis shoes is a pair of "canvas slippers" done in a sort of Mary Jane style.  Apparently, these were designed to be worn by "housewives" "for morning wear about the home" and women "who must be on their feet long hours" (assumably about the house). These canvas and rubber shoes seemed a more utilitarian house shoe than the more luxurious Daniel Green slippers.


By far the most commonly sighted "sports" shoes for women in the 30s seems to have been the oxford shoe.  These shoes are heeled, but the height and width of the heels were much lower and boxier. As shown in the above image (top left), there were some oxfords made out of canvas and rubber. However, more often, it seems leather was the main material for the upper.  The "Ginger Rogers" shoes below at left have the look and styling of a "kiltie" shoe.


Another popular style of "active" shoe that was touted as being both comfortable and lovely was the Mary Jane-esque "Kid shoe."  Again, the lower boxier heel was meant to symbolize more comfort and mobility than a spike heeled dancing shoe or dress pump.  I always get a kick out of images of 1930s "walking" and "sports" shoes.  These sure are a far cry from the Nike air sneakers worn by power walkers today! They kind of remind me of the Cole Haan brand shoes designed for working women that look like a dressy shoe but are meant to feel like a sneaker.



One last set of images: these white shoes are what, in the mid-1930s, were also defined as summer  and resort "sandals"--these, clearly, are of a higher, heeled variety than the late 20s and early 30s flat beach and resort shoes previously discussed.

6 comments:

Sea Witch said...

Love this post. I have a pair of 1930s walking shoes...black patent leather with the "proper" box heel for support. Gotta tell you, the are as comfortable as can be. The leather breathes, your foot is supported evenly and I can wear them all day in a shop without any pain. Love vintage shoes. Sea Witch

Nancy said...

SHOES!!! My favorite topic!!! Dear Baroness, you have had several pairs of shoes on your feet that I would have felt compelled to steal, had we met in person. We seem to share very similar tastes. I love the styles in this post.

And I love that you included Ginger in this post - I have always coveted her shoes!

Darlene said...

*faints* Oh man...

Stefanie Valentine said...

Fantastic! I love all these shoes, I wish they still made shoes like that, and I wish the few shoes that are still around would be big enough for my paddles :)

garofit said...

thank you for the great images and informative post, very helpful! a great source of inspiration for when I'll be choosing some walking shoes for my hill strolls!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Good to know these walking shoes are as comfy as advertised, Sea Witch!

Nancy: oh yes, think of the shoe and frock swaps we could do if we lived closer ;)

SHOES, GLORIOUS SHOES!!!