Dance Shoes, Shanks and Ferragamo

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Late Victorian shoes made by Gooch London; Shoe Galleries, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery.

If you have ever looked at historical shoes they all have one thing in common. Take these two pairs from the 1890’s what do you notice? They are floppy right? There is no arch support, they are literally like a flat shoe with a heel stuck on. The part that is missing? The shank, a piece of metal which runs from heel and along the arch to support the foot, first pioneered by Mr Salvatore Ferragamo.

“‘I discovered’, he wrote,’ that the weight of the bodies
when we are standing erect drops straight down on
the arch of the foot. I constructed my revolutionary lasts,
which supporting the arch, make the foot act like an
inverted pendulum.’

-Salvatore Ferragamo


This X-Ray of a high heel shows the metal shank running along the arch,

Since the shank was invented, by paying attention to the anatomy of the foot, we have been able to enjoy wearing high heels – I’ve no idea how anyone every managed to walk in those antique shoes! But if you take a look at dance shoes you will notice they bear a resemblance to the historical shoes, why? Well dancers need their feet to be flexible so the last thing they want is a shank or hard sole. In fact you can usually bend most dance shoes in half! Dance shoes need soft soles which slide across the floor so suede is a popular material for ballet shoes and Latin dance shoes, where as Hip-Hop shoes require more bounce so rubber is used but with a break under the arch for flexibility.

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Dance trainer images from Dancmania

You don’t make Fame without flexible shoes!fama_el_remake

Fame image from Cinemarat

Being lucky enough to study footwear I am always pleasantly surprised with how shoes have developed, things which have changed, stayed the same and developed.


Shoes from the past 100 years including those by Salvatore Ferragamo from 1955 and 1970, Shoe Galleries, NMAG


My column Fancy That! for STYLE.etc magazine delves into the history of the heelless shoe this month – hint it didn’t originate with Jeffery Campbell.

Project Walk-In Wardrobe


After weeks, long weeks which seem like years I’m coming closer to finally have my walk-in wardrobe finished. I can’t wait to show you the finished thing including my dream shoe wall! Here are some shots of the whole process: starting with my crazy mess, the first stage of construction was the wooden frame, this was then covered with plaster board and skimmed over. Next went in the Billy bookcases and some shelves, followed by a paint job. The electrics need finishing and the whole room repainting then we are good to go. Hopefully the last few bits won’t take too long and I can spend many happy hours filling it!

PicMonkey Collage

I couldn’t resist trying out just one pair of shoes on my lovely shelves. These are SS13 Vivienne Westwood ankle boots but I think they will be really great for AW too. I particularly like an ankle boot with a calf length skirt, I think awkward proportions really compliment each other. These are a sample but if you are on the look out for something similar these Lollipop Papas boots would be fabulous I also have my eye on these incredible Love Moschino wedges – both of these boots have a tiny heart detail in the design which I think is adorable.


Making Shoe Art – Some of My Vintage Boots


Whilst I’ve been emptying my bedroom I had to confront the pile of old boots lurking at the bottom of my wardrobe. I can’t remember the last time most of these saw the light of day but you never know when things will come back into fashion! I haven’t quite decided what to do with these old pairs, I can’t even bring myself to wear the two fur trim ones as I am so against wearing fur – yet they were given to me and I love the design, so I feel bad that they would go to waste too. Sigh, emotional turmoil. The cowboy boots brought me many summers of boho as did the black and grey leather ones in the winter, its nice to have reminders of those memories when I don’t have any photos of the outfits. It’s funny as I’ve always loved cowboy boots, even if they aren’t as on-trend these days. I have fallen for these Johnny boots by Sendra, wow they are incredible! The over-the-knee pair I have a feeling I might get back into wearing, I think they are always going to be a bit of a classic. This pair is by Bronx who don’t do this exact style any more but the Niatu is a very similar design in a lower height. Bronx were my favourite shoe brand for years and always remind me of my uni days. I will always have a soft spot for my orange suede ‘Stevie Nicks’ boots. They made me feel very 70s, Cow Vintage always has some good original boots in if you are looking for some this winter.┬á I took these photos on the frame for the new separating wall to my walk-in, it was that perfect time of day where shadows are cast dramatically. I figured it would be nice to have some great shots of my old boots, that way if I do decide to part with them I can still enjoy them every once in a while.

Do you have any hard to part with oldies?

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Joy & Trauma of Sales Shoe Deliveries


I picked up two pairs of shoes in the Spartoo shoes summer sale, they have some pairs at 70% off so amazing prices. The first pair are by Michael Perry and I have had my eye on them for some time. They have a really cute cherry design on the front, a nautical striped back and a red heel. I think they have a vintage vibe about them and they will look lovely with my vintage summer dresses. They fit perfectly and are very soft leather so will break in nicely.


The second pair were Rupert Sanderson Jean pumps, bright red with a black bow detail on the toe, a real pair of heart breakers. I especially liked the beautifully curved down toe. Alas more bad lucky with this brand for me, I got the wrong size again so I have asked for the size down to be sent, fingers crossed they fit as I am utterly smitten with these shoes. They are just so gorgeous and will looks fab with ankle socks and 80s frock for summer, then with thick tights and knitted dresses in winter.


Tour My Closet – My Revamped YouTube Channel

I decided it was about time my long abandoned You Tube channel was revisited. I’ve had a few requests for vlogging content and I agree it does make some things easier to explain. My first video is a companion to one of my most popular posts ‘Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots: History & How to Spot Fakes‘ where I can show details that genuine Vivienne Westwood Pirate boots have.

Next, the launch of my new regular shoes feature ‘Shoe Closet Tours’, I aim to eventually show all my shoe collection, each pair at a time! You can have a look through my channel, there are also some runway videos, but if you just want the new shoe action I have compiled them all into a Playlist, entitled ‘Shoes!’ Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to get all my new videos. I will be doing some haul and review vlogs too. Of course if you have a channel, drop me the link so I can subscribe x

Shoes! Playlist:

Gone Roman

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 I admit I have a very cool job, but some days it seems even cooler than usual. Above you can see my Vivienne Westwood toe shoes, directly above is the leather sole from an archaeological Roman sandal- notice anything similar? Yes it too has a toe shape cut out, some of them just have the first toe and others have all five toes defined. These sandals would have had leather straps attached to the sole just the same as our sandals today. Fascinatingly both my shoes and the Roman shoes were made in London.

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In fact the popular ‘Gladiator sandals’ are inspired by their original Roman counterpart. At the Museum of London they have recently included some modern items in the cases to illustrate their purpose. Personally I think this is a great idea, especially for children to help them gain perspective. We often forget that simple, every day items and steeped in history.


Not Quite Snow Boots


Snow in March, snow in March and what looks to be snow continuing into April. For a change we have been quite lucky up North and have just had constant blusters with nothing settling. I have to confess I really love it, its like movie snow! All the pretty flakes and none of the trudging through sludge, ruining my shoes. Which means I can revel in my snow-movie outfits of flowing capes and towering high heeled boots just like Carrie Bradshaw! My favourite look at the moment is tall boots and knee length dresses. These Vivienne Westwood boots are surprisingly comfortable for such a high stiletto, I adore them.


The Kind of Winter I do Like – Vivienne Westwood Shakespeare Boots


Vivienne Westwood ‘Shakespeare’ newspaper print ankle boots AW 2000 ‘Winter’ collection

Needless to say I’m pretty made up snagging these guys. The ‘Summertime’ and ‘Winter’ collections of 2000 are some of my favourites, especially since that was when the animal toe shoes were launched. They are even more beautiful in the flesh, made from the softest suede. I think the print will be rather delicate, so much as I want to, I don’t think I will be able to wear these every day. That is the only thing with being a collector, sometimes you have to put preservation before sartorial pleasure. I have always liked the stiletto heel and wish it was still an option as much as I like the chunky heel, it would be nice to have options.

Worlds End just put a new post up featuring John who makes all the Gold Label shoes. It is nice to read about the small, family run businesses still going in England and makes me feel proud to get my shoes from there. I know I say it often, but it is true, the Gold Label shoes are worth every single penny. They last for years and are so comfortable. A testament to real craftsmanship.

Shoes With Laces


All shoes Vivienne Westwood

If I had to choose a style of shoe which I always go for it would be court shoes. Yep courts would win hands down, most of my shoes are courts. Lately however, I have been favoring lace ups, perhaps it is because they are a little more wintery? A little more formal? That satisfying feeling of tying a perfect bow? I am still in the process of ‘wardrobe re-jig’ but can’t seem to focus. I’m not sure what mood I am in fashion wise right now. My brain is longing for spring, alas we had snow again today, even if it was a light dusting it was bitterly cold. Which also reminded me another winter has gone by without me getting out any of my tall boots. This is┬á a job I like to do each winter no fail along with my heavy coats but neglected to this year with all this unpredictable weather. One thing I do like are shoe laces and the fact you can change them around. I absolutely adore the yellow laces in my tan Tracey trainers (bottom right) so might try swapping some of my laces around.

Leg Warmers & Red Shoes

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(Wearing Vivienne Westwood Japan label leg warmers, Gold label Mary Jane shoes)

This was after getting a soaking on Sunday. It was freezing but I wanted to wear my Red Label velvet shorts so I pulled out these leg warmers, I hadn’t worn for absolutely ages, had them years. Are legwarmers still cool? In fact were they ever cool? Who knows, I love them anyway. Make me come over all Flashdance.They are a nice alternative to wearing boots.