Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Regency Accessories - Shoes

So I've had Regency on the brain a lot lately.  And one thing I've needed for a long time is some appropriate shoes, for both every day wear and for dances.  And I've found both!

First, I have been looking into jazz boots for a while now as a "half boot" substitute.  Half boots were the outdoor and walking shoe of choice in the Regency period.  At least for young ladies of leisure!  Most were kid leather but other materials were used (more info in the article link below).  The jazz boots I've been sourcing come in canvas (in multiple colors) or in leather (in black or white).  I've been waffling back and forth between leather or canvas and then colors for forever!  It's too hard a choice!  I kind of want them all.  But since I'm not sure they'll actually work, I decided I'd start with the less expensive canvas and then if I really liked them, I'd get a leather pair eventually down the road.

But once again I was faced with what color to get.  I'd found black, white, red and tan (or nude as they call it).  So I started to do some research in fashion plates and through extant boots to see what might have been most popular.  I found that in a lot of fashion plates they have either white or colored shoes, but most of them don't look like half boots.  But finally I found a reference to "Nankeen" boots being a very popular choice.  Here's a pair from an article about Regency shoes (I can't find the proper source for the actual boots, anyone?).
How sweet is that rosette?  Dresses up a more utilitarian shoe. :)

And it just happens I found some that look surprisingly similar to this pair!  All I need is to change the laces and add a little rosette to the front!  (Plus, the free 2-day shipping, free returns and super reasonable price from the website above made it seem like a no brainer.)

Nankeen was a yellowish cotton that was produced in China.  It's described as being pale yellow or buff.  I figure the tan is pretty close.  I also debated for a while about the white canvas and the possibility of dying them myself to some fun color, but I didn't want to risk the heel and sole leather.  And I think the tan is a pretty versatile color, it could go with a lot of things, and will match the pelisse I already have!

There's one drawback to these shoes.  They have a split leather sole.  It would be easy for a cobbler to add a sole to it, but I think I will wear them as is for now and see how they feel.  I bought them 2 sizes bigger than my regular size since as dance shoes, they are meant to be very snug.  I want to be able to wear a nice cotton sock with them and maybe even insert an insole that would add more support.  I'll report back on how they do once I get the shoes!

The other pair I am going to order for the ball I'm attending in February are also dance shoes.  These are ballet shoes, that are much more substantial than regular ballet slippers though.  They are sometimes called recital shoes or award shoes.  They have more substantial soles (still a nice suede leather!) as well as sides.  They too can be dyed, but I think I'll keep mine a nice white/ivory to guarantee they go with any dress I might make in the future.  I found them through the same source as the other shoes, here!  They actually have quite a few different kinds of these shoes that could work, all at different price range and sturdiness.  Some look more like regular ballet slippers.  I like the idea of just a bit more support though.  And these are pretty close to the extant ones below!
Just add ribbons!

From the Bata Shoe Museum - 1812

Anyway, I'm excited for my Regency shoes!  The other option that I'll mention since I want her to continue making historical footwear, is that American Duchess is coming out with a new Regency shoe, the Pemberly!  They are all leather and have a small heel.  They look very nice, but are a little out of my budget for now, so I'm going to go with these and see how they do!

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