Shoes of the Revolution – More About “Dunmore” 1770s Shoes

As most of you know, yesterday we opened for pre-order our latest 18th century shoes, “Dunmore,” named for Lady Dunmore, and developed with and for Colonial Williamsburg.

“Dunmore” has been a year in the making, starting with references and conversations with Brenda, the head of the Costume Design Center at Williamsburg, along with the ladies of the Milliner’s shop, and resulting in what we feel is a very faithful reproduction of a 1770s style.

This period of footwear is very interesting because it departs in silhouette rather greatly from designs only a decade earlier. Primarily this is in the heel shape, which went from a rather thick and sturdy “French” design to a narrow, almost modern-looking “Italian” heel.

Shoe Icons, c. 1780s
Smithsonian Libraries – illustration of a 1770s-1790s shoe, by T.Watson Greig, 1885
Glazed Wool (Calimanco) 1770s-1790s shoes, eBay listing (dead) from fiddybee

This type of heel provided minimal support with a considerable wedge shape extending under the arch of the foot. The shaped last was no longer in use, and shoes were made as flats with the heels applied, resulting in the wearer being pitched forward and having to adopt a sliding gait. This method of construction would not change for heeled shoes until the late 1880s!

Two matching shoes, one heeled, one flat – these were made exactly the same, but with different heels applied! Originally from

In developing “Dunmore,” we had to consider these issues of original 18th century construction and work around them while maintaining the correct silhouette. Luckily, adding in modern arch support achieves the comfort and balance without altering the design too much. To keep the silhouette, we omitted the toe boxes and created the Italian heel in modern, strong materials, to prevent breakage and instability. I wore Dunmore for our photo shoot last week, and was pleased to find no discomfort or weird balance at all. We went back and forth with the factory several times to make sure the toe was roomy enough without the toe  boxes, and the balance of the heel worked.

The result:

I’m also incredibly proud to tell you that “Dunmore” will be available to purchase in the shops at Colonial Williamsburg later this year! You will also see them on several interpreters, including the apprentice milliners at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop!

“Dunmore” Pre-Order is open through May 4th at

Dunmores are available in black wool (which can be waxed to create your own mock-calimanco), or dyeable white sateen, to match your dress. While the pre-order is on, we’re having a sale – your choice of free buckles, free stockings, or a $10 discount, as a “Thank You” for ordering ahead of time.


  • Cassidy

    April 17, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Well, now I'm torn, because these look great but I've always wanted some red Kensingtons. I may just have to get both at some point!

  • Chelsea

    April 28, 2015 at 11:29 PM

    Brenda is such a cool lady. Have you gotten a tour of the CDC from her? If not, you should make sure you do on your next visit.

    I love the heels on these shoes! They look soooooooooo uncomfortable, but I have no trouble believing that they are not, given that all of my AD shoes are incredibly kind to my feet. 🙂


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