What Makes a Historically Accurate Regency Shoe?
Before I got into making historical shoes for costumers and re-enactors, I spent a lot of time looking for modern shoes that would "make do." I did things like tie bows around my maryjanes, to try to make them look like 18th century shoes with latchets; I wore sequinned slippers made in India with my Elizabethan gowns; I sported round-toed, metallic pleather, rubber-soled flats from Target with a Regency gown. None of these things really worked. I'm not super sticky about authenticity, but even these shortcuts were too shortcutty for me.
Now a days, when I'm looking at historical styles to recreate for the American Duchess line, I look for the things that make a historical shoe historical. These are the hallmarks of a certain time period, the things that I will not compromise when it comes to prototyping and producing our shoes.
For instance, let's look at early Regency shoes, about 1790 into 1810. This is a perfect example because many people think of these shoes as modern-looking, as something that can be found at Payless, or Walmart, or Target...but they can't, and here's why...
Modern shoes exhibit some
but not all
of the hallmarks of a 1790s shoe, which are:
1) Pointed Toe
2) Small, Curved Heel
3) Side Seam
4) Natural Materials (Leather or Silk Upper, Leather Sole)
It's easy to find shoes that have one or even two of these things, but not all of them together. You may get the pointed toe, but have a spikey, too-high heel; or you may get the kitten heel, but have a rounded toe; and you will never find a side seam, and don't even bother looking for a leather upper AND a leather sole together.
These hallmarks are exactly the things included in the upcoming Pemberlies from American Duchess
. They've got the pointed toe, the side seam, and I've gone with a slightly thicker heel, but still curved, for easier walking on dirt paths and across grass. You're going to love them!
The American Duchess brand started as and continues to be a popular blog on historical costuming from the 16th to the 20th century. Our first style, the exclusive “Georgiana” 18th century shoes, developed from frustration in not being able to find 18th century footwear fit for an upper class persona.
With the invaluable assistance of our American Duchess blog readership, the Georgianas, followed by their leather sister, the Devonshires, were developed to fill the void, and present a ladies’ 18th century shoe that could be worn by Colonial reenactors and French courtiers alike.
The success of the Georgiana and Devonshire shoes has lead us to develop an early Regency style called "Pemberley," and also in development are lattice-strap pumps of the Edwardian era, 1920s spectator t-straps, and early 18th century Louis heels. Each style is carefully researched and painstakingly designed to bring you historically accurate footwear that is also comfortable and durable.