Victorian Ladies Shoes

Shoes and boots of a golden bronze or black, ornamented with bronze, are becoming fashionable. Toilet slippers are this season more fanciful than ever, being made of red, green, and violet morocco, with heels to match, and ornamented on the toe with velvet bows full three inches long, and wide, in the centre of which are huge buckles of steel, gilt, jet, or variegated.

We see, also, black kid slippers, richly embroidered with jet, and trimmed with black velvet bows with jet buckles. Some of them have red heels. Other slippers have large, square flaps resting on the instep, and made of silks and satins richly quilted. With these shoes white stockings spotted with the same color as the morocco are worn.

For evening dress, though boots are in the ascendant, black satin slippers are the most suitable and becoming, as they reduce the apparent size of the foot. With dress slippers stockings with colored silk clocks should worn.

- Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1862

As you can tell from this short description of fashionable footwear in 1862, shoes came in many designs and colors! Evolving from the flat-soled, very pointed shoes of the Regency era, ladies’ shoes of the mid-Victorian era sported a decidedly square toe or slightly rounded square toe. The look also featured a completely flat leather sole or a small heel of approximately one inch to one-and-a-half inches tall. 

Shoes were slip-ons or could tie. Boots - which were only ankle-high or slightly above the ankle - tied, buttoned, or had elastic gussets so one could slip them on. Boots with gussets sometimes had non-functional, decorative buttons on them. 

The upper portion of shoes and boots could be leather, wool, or silk, and came in many colors or could be dyed to match an ensemble.

 At this time, shoes had straight lasts, which means there was no right or left foot. The shoes would simply conform to one’s feet over time as they were worn. 

Both shoes and boots could be casual for daily wear or dressy for special occasions. Dressier occasions generally called for silk-covered shoes or boots. Footwear could match one’s ensemble or not. 

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