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. 🙂

Most Sincerely,

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


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