The Vintage Styles Behind Alpen

The sun is setting sooner, the air is turning crisp, and crunchy leaves are falling (and begging to be stepped on). Our very favorite holiday (Halloween, of course!) is just around the corner, and beyond that…winter is coming. With our sandals tucked safely away until next year, the time has come for warmer and cozier footwear.

Our Alpen Vintage Booties are a beloved cold-weather style, and with good reason! With fur-trimmed velveteen, snuggly houndstooth lining, and pretty pretty colors, how could it not be? Plus, it is SERIOUSLY comfy. Our Alpens were originally inspired by some vintage overshoes from the Montgomery Ward catalogue, and reference other booties from the 1930s-1950s with similar silhouettes.

Let’s take a look at some historical examples!

Back in the 19th century, carriage boots emerged as a means of protecting delicate indoors-only shoes from the elements. These boots were usually overshoes, which would be tied over the indoors-only shoes while travelling. Carriage boots were often made in darker colors and out of a textile like velvet, trimmed with fur, and tied on.

Carriage boots from the collection at the Metropolitan Museum, c. 1880-1895

Some unusual and very stunning peach and mink carriage boots from c. 1900, from the collection at the Bata Shoe Museum.

Some very lovely brown carriage boots, c. 1895. From the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The trend for carriage boots continued into 20th century and the era of automobile usage. Early 20th century carriage boots were often still textile-soled. Rubber-soled versions came later, around the 1940s.

These carriage boots are from the Sears 1903 fall catalogue. Though the drawing is in black and white, we will have to imagine it in blue!

These carriage boots are from the fall 1917 Sears catalogue- and the same ones were available for purchase in the 1916 catalogue as well. These boots had a felt sole, and ‘furlike’ trim (i.e faux).

Offerings from the fall 1919 Sears catalogue included some darling options- see the carriage boot on the lower left, which was quite similar to the pair offered in 1917, only with mohair trim and a soft leather outsole.

Though the trend for carriage boots faded a bit in the 1920s, they returned to popularity towards the end of the 1930s, when we start to see styles with a lot of similarities to our Alpen Booties.

These galoshes have fur trim, a Cuban heel, and tie laces. They were, in fact, meant to go over your shoes. These are from the UK and date to the early 1940s.

A similar pair in brilliant blue velveteen, with white trim!

Here is a pair from a 1930s Von Lengerke & Anton catalogue. Just like ours, they had velveteen uppers, fur trim, and rubber soles.

These overshoes from the fall 1935 Sears catalogue come with slip-on and snap-on fastenings. Notice their recommendation to pick your overshoe based on the heels of your regular shoes. Why aren’t these popular anymore?!

By now, ‘motor boots’ had began to replace ‘carriage boots’ as the names for these types of shoes..

Winterwear options from the fall 1949 Sears catalogue included some beautiful velveteen, fur-trimmed boots with rubber soles.

Look how cute these boots from the fall of 1950 were. The wellies and zip-up fur-lined boots are lovely too! On the bottom right, you can see a lovely velveteen and fur-trimmed motor boot, available in two heel heights.

We’ve already noticed an uptick in sales for our own Alpen Booties, so if you are after your own pair, we recommend you snag them soon!


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