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A timeline history of Shoes and Fashion

THE 19TH CENTURY:
WAR, WAR, WAR. THIS WAR TALK IS SPOILING ALL THE FUN AT EVERY PARTY. I GET SO BORED I COULD SCREAM.


WHAT'S GOING ON? 
So many things happened in this century it is impossible to detail them all, so I’m going to give the abridged version and hope I don’t leave anything important out.  The first thing to mention is The French Revolution.  (although technically it began in the 18th century in the year 1792, it's ramifications were justly felt in the early 19th century which is why I mention it here) bonaparte




<Left: Detail. Bonaparte, Calm on a Fiery Steed, Crossing the Alps. 1801. Jacques-Louis David. Oil on canvas, Musée National du Château de Malmaison, Rueil




The extravagance in architecture, furniture and costume came to a screeching halt and snapped back to sensible, practical, sober reality.  George III went bonkers (poor George) and had to be put away in 1811. His son (who was a bit of a rebel rouser) became regent for 9 years until he became king himself in 1820. 

Along with a mad king and a rebel rouser regent, there was Napoleon Bonaparte who crowned himself Emperor of France. War, war, war.  Napoleon was banished and everything topsy turvy again - or shall I say still?  In America the gold rush was in full swing and so was The Civil War which coincides with the first romantic, then prudy Victorian Era. Despite all this, the economy rose.  More people could afford more things. Sewing machines and factories, employed for the first time, made textiles easier and cheaper to produce.

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WOMEN’S FASHION:
At the beginning of the century the Empire Style was in full swing.  Sense & Sensibility big time with high waisted gowns, the low décolleté square necklines, the short narrow bodice with the small barely capped puffed sleeve. 

What was happening here? No boned corsets? No hoops? Suddenly one could breathe? You could actually see women's limbs under those skirts! For shame! empire dress




Right: Detail. Portrait of a Woman
1810. János Donat. Oil on canvas,
Private collection>






But apparently the whole breathing thing was tossed aside as temporary insanity and the stay came back with a vengeance. For an hour-glass figure, you needed stays. Cinch that waist. Suck in that breath. Cinch that waist again.

And as the waist kept getting smaller, the skirt got wider and wider and the sleeves got poofier requiring wires to retain their poofiness to the utmost and more and more petticoats rustled beneath. Everything became overloaded with all sorts of trimmings, heavy plaitings, puffs of ribbons and ruffles of lace.

victorian dress


<Left: Detail. Princess de Broglie. 1851-53 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York





By 1880 the jersey and the kilted skirt became fashionable. Adopted from England, it had been originated by Lily Langtry, the "Jersey Lily," to show off her beautiful figure. The trend went wild and was worn by practically every woman and child.
lily langtry



Right. Lily Langtry. c. 1890>









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WOMEN’S SHOES:

To go with all the breezy less structured dresses during The Regency were breezy, less structured shoes.  No more heel. No more discomfort. No more squashing toes into rigid up turned points. Let's talk, slippers! Sure they still had pointed toes but they were made of soft materials and came in romantic pastels like lavender, pink and robin's egg blue.
1800's slippers


<Left: Detail. Portrait of Catherine Worlée, Princesse de Talleyrand-Périgord. François Gerard.
1804-05 Oil on canvas,
Private collection






Later in the century as the stay was reeling it's ugly head once again, shoes hardened as well and because they were always hidden under a dress not much attention was paid to them. When demand is low, variety lacks . In fact, there were only three styles of shoes to choose from in the later part of the century:  the boot, the clog and the dress slipper.  The boot became the everyday wear, durable and practical but took a long time to break in.
1830's boot




Right: English boot. 1830>








Once the sewing machine was patented in 1850, the boot was accessible to more women and it eventually became the footwear for the working class.  The dress slipper and clog were worn only on special occasions and were made of satin in many luminous colors and intricate designs to match the dress that the women was wearing.

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MEN’S FASHION

The Revolution really shook things up in the men's fashion world and all flamboyant and frivolous styles went by the wayside. Black and dark colors replaced the snazzy vibrant colors. Plain cloth and leather replaced the silk and velvet. No more ruffles, lace and ribbons. After all, dressing like a dandy was not appropriate for a democratic citizen. Breeches lengthened to the ankle, coats grew high collars with large lapels and sleeves fell way past the wrists. The tricorn was replaced by the top hat and everyone who was anyone carried a cane. 
1800s man


<Left. Detail. Portrait of Pierre Sériziat 1795 Jacques-Louis David.
Oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris






By the end of the century, men’s fashion became steadfast and conservative with only small unremarkable changes periodically.  Like in the later half of the century, the daytime and evening coats were replaced by the morning coat which happened to have a curved waist but other than that the style was not much different. 

manet


Right: Detail. Portrait of Zacharie Astruc. 1866; Edouard Manet. Kunsthalle, Bremen>





Tailcoats became popular for eveningwear throughout 1880-90 and although prints and plaids were stylish during the daytime, black remained the only acceptable eveningwear.

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MEN’S SHOES:

Like men's clothes, men's shoes became steadfast and conservative and basically stayed that way for centuries to come. Black became the only color for shoes and the low heeled and practical riding boot became fashionable for a time at the beginning of the century.

The laced up shoe became popular at the beginning of the century and has been with us ever since. Men's shoe styles changed and developed until the end of the 19th century when perfection was attained and the search discontinued. You won't find much variation from this time on with a brief detour in the 1970's with the Anything Goes era.

For more images of 1800's shoes, please visit my Styles Gallery.

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~KBCreations. Copywrite 2006.

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