Friday, June 11, 2010

Vintage Shoe Spotlight- Wedges!

Here is the famous Carmen Miranda with her shoes! I am SO JEALOUS!

Shoes. It is a word that evokes feelings of fascination and wonder in almost every girl I know, vintage or not! Putting personal taste aside, I have yet to meet a girl who is not obsessed with shoes. I've had a passion for shoes ever since I was able to wear high heels. In high school, I would often steal my mother's heels and as soon as I got my first real job, I blew most of my earnings on clothing, makeup, and of course, shoes! The first high heels I ever bought were a pair of black suede platforms made by Sam and Libby. The shoes had a late-40s, New Look vibe about them. I was 17 and I felt like a vintage starlet as I strutted my way to Spanish class.

In 2006, I started wearing vintage on a normal basis. As I slowly built my vintage wardrobe, I realized my shoe collection needed to be updated as well. I had a few pairs of contemporary heels that 'looked vintage' as well as two authentic sets of late 1940s/50s deadstock saddle shoes. As I searched various websites for inspiration, I noticed several 40s looks were combined with wedge shoes.

Wedge shoes, are a category of platform shoes. In 1935, Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo designed the first prototype of the wedge. This primary model didn't have an obvious heel. It was almost like a flat-type of shoe. Ferragamo's inaugural creation was in the form of the traditional 'angled' wedge. In 1936, the designer introduced a higher, heeled version. In the following years, different kinds of wedges were made in a myriad of styles and heights. Some wedges were designed with heels as high as five inches!

In the late 1930s and into the early 40s, many shoe designers began to make wedges in a variety of colors and materials. Wedges made with cork, wood, rubber, and/or leather. However, cork became a widely used medium due to its light weight. Moreover, cork soles were long-lasting and sturdy. Women discovered that wedges were not only dependable, they were easier to walk than their high heel counterparts.

During the war years, wedge shoes became fashion mainstays due to comfort and rationing. Heavy restrictions were placed on rubber and leather. As a result, cork continued to be a major component in the wedges' construction. As for the upper balances of wedges, some were made with cottons, velvet, and raffia.

In the late 40s and into the early 50s, wedges were made with lower heels and were usually deemed for casual and summer wear ie, “play wear.”

In the 1970s, the wedge made a huge comeback. The wedge was found in every style from day wear to disco couture.

In the early 1980s, espadrilles (especially those made by Pappagallo) were extremely popular with the “preppy set.” (I remember my sister begging our mom for a pair of espadrilles.)
Throughout the later years of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, various forms of wedges have come and gone. I have noticed that in the last two to three years, wedges have been a major feature of the haute couture collections ranging from Gucci, Galliano, Yves Saint Laurent, Stuart Weitzman, Prada, Louboutin to Chanel. Even the 'retail' market brands like Roxy, Rocket Dog, and Volatile have been coming out with wedge designs.

In my shoe collection as it stand now, I have wedges from Punk Rose, Natural Comfort, Miss Sixty, CastaƱer, Re-Mix, and Ayers Allen. I would do anything to have the real thing but most of us vintage girls know how hard it is to find vintage shoes that are in good condition, let alone our size!

(Re-Mix Vintage wedges in red)

(me wearing wedges from Miss Sixty)

Despite fashion's fickle love affair with the wedge, I am going to keep wearing them! They are comfortable, cute, and so 40s! On the weekend, I love pairing my red ribbon espadrilles with my dark rinse, denim capris and plaid, 50s camp shirt. Wedges go with everything from 40s house dresses, 50s pencil skirts, sundresses, and vintage playsuits! Instead of flip-flops, I compliment my summer looks with wedges.

So, vintage girls, whatever your budget, be sure to include wedge shoes in your collection!


  1. the older i get, the more i love them. I have many pairs of wedges - all vintage repros - and they are my go-to shoe. they go with everything that I wear (except a suit) and are so comfy!

  2. I can't agree more! I have several pairs of wedges and I -adore- them. As a momma, I need something easy to walk in but flats make my legs look short and stumpy, so I find that wedges are my best bet for comfort and style. Thank you for the history on wedges- very interesting!! Have a great weekend, doll! xoxo

  3. Shrinky Inky,

    I could not agree more! Wedges are comfy and go with so many things! I love the Re-Mix wedges for their style and vintage accuracy but their prices are high. I have one pair of their wedges and they are amazing. I guess I need to save up!

  4. Thank you for the comments, Brittany! I agree that wedges are so much better than flats! Flip-flops and flats make my legs look bad!

  5. I adore wedges!! They are the best. And that picture? DROOL.

  6. BakeliteBebe,

    Aren't those pics, especially Carmen's, amazing? I would do anything to have a time machine so I travel to the 40s! I would buy shoes, clothing, and housewares like a mad woman!

  7. You know what surprises me? How comfortable they are.

  8. Yes, Blackberry, I agree! Wedges are indeed comfortable! When Ferragamo created the first wedge in 1935, it was actually intended to be a type of orthopedic shoe.

  9. Love these wedge shoes, I am going to get one at