SHOES THROUGH THE CENTURIES

We were at Nordstrom’s to fit Jack in a new pair of Clark’s desert boots for his trip to New Zealand.  Jack didn’t know they were desert boots, just like he does not recognize any apparel brand except Levi.   In fact he is not aware of what he wears unless it is uncomfortable.  So when he drew my attention to boot on display it really surprised me.

“Why would anyone wear that?”  he asked in a horrified tone.  Being a smart mouth, I answered “maybe  a working girl “.   North Dakota Jack replied, “how could you work in those?”.   Right.

But I understood his awe.  I’d had a similar moment at a little museum inside Chenonceau  Castle in France.   Some of Francis I clothing had been preserved and was displayed on a mannequin.  Right there I was struck speechless, and for me that is an almost miracle.  Wow, the king and I at that very moment were wearing the same model shoes.  Mine had a Velcro closing and his a buckle, but that was the only difference.

Had he shopped at Footsmart  for his orthopedic  Mary-Janes?   This set me off on a European shoe discovery tour.  At every museum and every castle I looked for paintings where nobility revealed their footwear.  There were no paintings of ladies revealing anything but their bosoms, but the royal males displayed  such vanity in their apparel.

Why do I always come back to old Louis XIV?  But just look at those sweet numbers on his feet.

When he really wanted to look swell, he wore his dress shoes:

This is Charles V of England about 1530.  Who can look at  his shoes when his costume boasts such a ridiculous codpiece?

What was he thinking?  Looks like he could trip the light fantastic in his soft little slippers.

Next on the runway is Louis XVI the guy who lost his head in the Revolution.

Maybe the masses wouldn’t have hated him so vehemently if he’d not worn the royal bedspread and those pointy toed slippers.

Henri  II of France.  Doesn’t it look like he could be wearing  a pair of the modern athletic shoes that substitute elastic for laces?

King James I of England.  King James version of the Bible sound familiar?

Besides wearing glitzy shoes to show that he was above the common man this guy thought he was appointed by God to dictate every phase of his subjects’ lives.  The one thing I always remember is:  A female subject was trying to give birth to twins.  It was a long and agonizing labor.  She cried out ,when she felt she could not bear up, to bring in a witch and see if she could do something  to cut the pain.  The midwife tattled.  Righteous King James I had the mother burned at the stake.  He admonished women-folk that they were meant to suffer in childbirth, part of their original sin.  So there.

This is Spanish royalty, a Ferdinand.   Like those boots?  Thought so.  And the spurs…thought that was our cowboys’ invention.

This Charles II of England.  He must have chosen to sit for his portrait.

His feet were killing him.

We don’t have American royalty, but our first president was urged by some to become king.

When he married Martha Custis she wore these slippers to her wedding.  Purple is good.

King of the Dance Floor specials.

These little slap-soles were the property of a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. For two left feet?

The Roman sandal. How far could a soldier march in these  without getting fallen-arches?

Here’s authentic relic from the Middle Ages, sort of Mary Jane-ish.


What about the ancient Egyptians?  Here are some carved in stone.  (Not to be confused with the Mafia terminology ‘cement shoes’.)


Famous footwear.  The Maid’s night out and she had to run in high heels.


Preserved from the wardrobe of a French Queen.  No glass for her.

Platforms are back right now.  But these from the seventeenth century are scary.

Fall off those killer-shoes and go to the ER.

These  Klompen resonate with me.  Love ‘em.

Shoes.   We all wear them, some of us out of necessity, some with flair, some to make a statement, and some to say “made you look!”.

Vincent Van Gogh: Well, I still prefer Starry Night, but he thought shoes interesting enough to paint them, on  canvas that is.

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~ by dottiedoright on February 20, 2010.

One Response to “SHOES THROUGH THE CENTURIES”

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