Sunday, May 4, 2008

Clodhopping

I have previously expressed my anguish over my large feet. Having large feet is quite the cross to bear for a fashion junkie. Sometimes it makes me feel like a genetic mutant fluke, much like this gentleman:

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This new group on Flickr is dedicated solely to the celebration and exhibition of vintage shoes. Only once in a haley's comet am I able to cram my bull hoof into a vintage pump, but I can't help but admire the photos and dampen my thighs with envy-drool. Here are a few examples:

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I did get to thinking, though - why have women's shoe sizes become so much bigger? Toward the end of the 19th century, the average woman's shoe size was about a three...these days, the only person I can think of who would wear a size three is someone with a wooden peg for a leg.

This charming artcle, originally published in The New York Times in 1911, discusses the increasing sizes of women's shoes. The article's title, "Sure Sign of Woman's Emancipation in the Increased Size of her Shoes," summarizes the article's findings. It boasts that women (drum roll, please...nay, 1000 drum rolls,) actually use their feet now. They golf! They hold certain sales jobs! It is no longer vulgar for those of genteel stock to walk! These revolutionary developments in the feminine lifestyle meant that women could no longer exchange comfort simply to have dainty feet. Like the oft-cited Chinese foot binding ritual, turn-of-the-century American women faced similar pressure about the stature of their feet: "Several women of forty who are daughters of gentlewomen recalled that when their mothers were girls it was really not considered ladylike to wear a larger shoe than 2 or 2.5. No girl could do it and still be considered a belle. Certainly she could not so consider herself if she were unable to squeeze into a shoe of about that size."
(Note: if a 2.5 or less is required to be a belle, I suppose that makes me a gong.)

I think it is interesting that people were discussing the increasing shoe size of women even 97 years ago. Based on other souces, rising shoe sizes are based on several factors: increases in average weight, more effective nutrition, the decrease of practices like foot binding and the tendency of women to buy shoes that actually fit them.

Or, a cause that I champion: bum luck.

22 comments:

Liberty said...

Tell me about it! I'm about an US 9.5 vintage shoes are a very rare find for me :(

jason said...

hey, here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash, I was making about $900 extra a month...
check it out ..

K.Line said...

Those orange shoes, and the oxfords at the end are awesome. I've got pretty big feet too - 8.5 - big enough that finding vintage shoes is almost an impossibility. Not that I can't enjoy just looking... For the most part, I think one should wear new shoes so that they can conform to the shape of one's own foot upon wearings. Having said this, I just bought a pair of vintage sandals (half a size too small) because I couldn't pass them by...

Hailey @ stylesymmetry.com said...

I have size 10 feet (or 9 wide), bigger feet = better balance.

Alline said...

eerm... I`m a size 3! And no, I don`t have a wooden peg for a leg! But if it makes you feel better, it`s horrible for me also to shop for shoes as I hardly ever find anything nice in my size (talk about being told the only Converses available in size 3 are the kids ones... the shame!).

Lady Smaggle said...

Hey love I used one of your photos on my site www.smaggle.com
Hope you don't mind! :-)

rybka said...

Well, I've got european 42, which is about 10.5 US, but I'm 185 cm tall and I agree with Hailey - I should take care of them, because they give me the balance. My mother has smaller feets than I, so I don't have a chance to wear her shoes, but lots of companies nowadays produce shoes in rare size and vintage cut. I even know one girl, who decided to produce shoes on her own - using sometimes the old ones and new materials, but this is somehow expensive and requires special tools.

Aurelia said...

I am an extreme shopaholic and i got it from my mum and my mum got it from my granny, who is THE shopaholic. And she has all these amazing vintage shoes from the 50's, 60's and 70's. And i CAN'T WEAR THEM cos my size 7 flippers and her shoes are all size 5. So depressing. To think of what i could have had....

laura said...

i love the photos from that flickr-groups - such lovely shoes! just as you, i'm having problems finding vintage shoes that fit me (i'm about an us 11) which is quite sad.
well, it's not just the feet that are getting bigger, the height of people is increasing in general. have you ever tried to walk through a door built some centuries ago? it's impossible.

Miss Woo said...

Those orange shoes are beautiful.. its funny how shoes sizes varies between countries, whenever I went home all the girls are a British size 3 or 4!

fash said...

bum luck indeed. i've grown to love my feet and the canoe shoes that house them....even if sometimes i buy from the men's section.

Chocoholic said...

I completely understand the big feet issue. I wear a 9.5 - 10 and people always ask me how I can have so many pairs of shoes. I have a lot because if I do find a cute pair that fits, I buy them! :)

Leilani said...

What a timely post, I too have a massive foot (9 1/2-10 US) and have recently been lamenting the lack of vintage shoes in this size. My grandmother actually had the same shoe size as me but unfortunately she didn't keep any of her shoes from the 1940s-1970s. :( I've been fortunate enough to find a few pairs of vintage shoes but they mainly date from the late 1970s and '80s.

The Clothes Horse said...

Average size in all ways has grown too, women are taller and taller women need bigger feet.I have two friends the same height as me though and their feet are two sizes smaller! So jealous...

Imelda Matt said...

me thinks it's bum luck...shall I start unwrapping my bandages?

August said...

Those shoes are all so cute!

Isabel said...

The best vintage pumps are always in size 6! Life's a bitch.

Lady Language said...

Ahh! The curse of big feet - I know, I am a size 10 and mine are narrow, yuck! Did you know that was a pic of Teen Wolf??

Eleh said...

having small feet has its downs as well. often small sizes gets sold out fast.

(R)evolver74 said...

The orange ones are sweet!

Natasha said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

alline: I am glad to hear that your legs are in tact. :) I was just exaggerating out of jealousy, I swear!

lady language: it is indeed Teen Wolf. I am relieved someone noticed and that I am not the only one with a soft spot for the 'high schooler turns into werewolf basketball star' tale.

Ash1314 said...

wow I LOVE all the shoes...especially the last ones...so much better then the "wannabees" they are making now in stores.....