Why Make Historical Shoes?

Lauren W. models a powder blue 1740s riding habit, surrounded by Kensington and Pompadour 18th century shoes

This month marks the two year anniversary of starting the Historical Footwear side of this whole “American Duchess” thing, and I thought it would be a good time to revisit the “why” of what we’re doing, and to get acquainted with many new followers that have joined us, who may not know what American Duchess is all about.

Once upon a time…I couldn’t find any shoes I liked, to pair with my 18th century ensembles.  I searched high and low, but when it came to the graceful curve of the French heel, the delicate silk fabric, and the beautiful colors and designs found in extant examples, there was nothing to slake my Georgian shoe lust.

Lauren R. (that’s me!) matches red Kensingtons to a red Robe a l’Anglaise, for Bastille Day 2012

When you spend so much time sewing a gown, getting all the underpinnings and silhouette details right, slaving away on just the right hat and hairstyle, making sure everything is perfect, why then should you have to “make do” with shoes that aren’t just as dazzling and correct as the rest of you?

And, simply put, that is why.  Because truly authentic reproduction shoes are near impossible to find, I’ve set out to create at least one or more examples from every period of dress from the 16th century to the 1940s, so that when it comes to appropriate footwear, you don’t have to worry that your shoes aren’t quite right.

You also don’t have to worry that they’re horribly uncomfortable and will fall apart after one season.  Part of my quest is to make *real* shoes – that means real leather inside and out, hard-wearing soles, and excellent fit, just like you would expect from a nice pair of shoes you buy at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s.  Balance and engineering are extremely important to me – the shoemakers of the past understood these things too.

Laurie T. trims Pompadours in pink ribbons, to match her pink brocade gown.

In short, American Duchess Historical Footwear is here to support the return of well-designed, comfortable, and beautiful shoes and accessories, through reviving vintage and historical styles.  We stand for grace, beauty, and dressing up, for exploring the past through clothing, and keeping history alive one step at a time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Most Sincerely,

For more information, visit AmericanDuchess.com, or find us on Facebook


  • Kathy

    April 5, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    I don't do any period events anymore, but even so I lust after your shoes. They're all gorgeous and very reasonably priced for custom designed footwear.
    23 Skidoos are on my birthday wish list, just because they're beautiful.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 5, 2013 at 4:14 AM

      Thank you! You will love the skidoos. I've been wearing them with all kinds of modern clothes, and can't wait to bring them out for all the Gatsby events this summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous

    April 5, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    I wear a pair of your Astoria Edwardian shoes frequently as "every day" shoes. I count them among my most comfortable shoes. They're all beautiful! You're doing an amazing job of producing beautiful, affordable reproduction shoes.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 5, 2013 at 4:15 AM

      Thank you! I love your feedback too, that you wear these as everyday shoes and find them comfortable. Mission accomplished. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Laurie

    April 5, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    Thanks for making these shoes!! I wore my tavistock boots all dau today, at some event for my job, and I can tell you I spent all day standing up and my feet aren't too bad (considering my day the only way my feet wouldn't hurt is if I was wearing plush slippers). Love your shoes, can't wait to find out your future shoe styles from all the eras!

  • Kiyotea

    April 5, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    I am so glad that you have started this business when you did. While I'm making my way (albeit rather slowly) into the costuming community I'm ecstatic to have access to such great companies that provide everything from patterns to fabric to shoes. And even though it would be great to live in the time period and have the real deal, I wouldn't change it for anything because 1. my being a gay guy who likes wearing dresses would not have flown at all until very recently, and 2.there are too many cool time periods.
    So thank you, so much, for doing what you do! This weekend I'm debuting a costume with period shoes for the first time but I've already worn them out twice because they're so nice! (They're tavistocks by the way!)
    Didn't really intend the long comment but I think it's worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, again!

  • Chelsea

    April 5, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    All I can say is keep it up! I look forward to each new offering, even if my wallet doesn't. :p Don't get me wrong – your shoes are very reasonably priced – it's just that I want ALL OF THEM. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Frances

    April 6, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    I think your shoes are absolutely phenomenal. My fiance and I are both singers specializing in music of the baroque and earlier, and I am making plans to save up for a pair of your shoes to go with costumes I might wear… no point in wearing a historical reproduction with character shoes! I'm sure my fiance will be jealous if I get a pair, though… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rosa

    April 6, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Three cheers to your mission! Even though I'm not a costumer per se – rather mostly wear a fashion inspired by various historical eras, particularly Victorian – I was overjoyed when I saw your Tavistocks. For a long time, I felt something is missing in my outfits, but I didn't know what precisely. And ta-da!, it's them!:-)
    Now to save up those $180… plus shipping. May I ask about the international low cost shipping option? How much would it be to Czech Republic, please?
    I tried the shipping estimate, but it gave me two truly horrendous sums…


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