Unworn deadstock, these circa 1917 or 1918 ladies’ oxfords in glazed honey kid leather have long, slender toes with perforated tips and stacked Louis heels. Lined with matching leather in the heel and with ivory fabric in the vamp, the shoes have metal-tipped cord laces and leather soles.
Their muted color, “mannish” detailing and use of an aluminum plate to reinforce the wooden heel all reflect the “economy” restrictions on leather instituted by the US government when it entered WWI in 1917. In response to the regulation of ladies’ boot heights (which could now rise no further than 7”), both cloth tops to boots and the “low shoe”—worn with or without spats—became increasingly popular. In a shift away from the metallic and colored leathers fashionable in mid-teens footwear, utilitarian colors like brown, grey, and especially black surged in popularity as well. Brown leather shoes in the later teens ranged from shades of “champagne”, “tan”, and “hazel”, to “koko brown”, “chocolate” and “mahogany”.
Please see photo #8 for examples of “low shoe” styles in a 1918 newspaper ad, as well as a model (from the same paper) styled exactly like the one being offered here.
The shoes measure 9” from heel to the point of the toe inside the shoe, 2 5/8” across the widest part of the tread (bottom of the shoe), roughly the equivalent of a modern size 5, and have 3” heels.
Condition is good unused, with the leather supple and the gorgeous color rich as ever. The outer leather has patinated, with darkening along the bottom of the shoes where the uppers meet the sole and heels. The heel socks appear to be missing, exposing lightly soiled felt pads; there is an abrasion to the tip of the right sole; and the leather lining inside the back of both shoes is dry/fragile, with separation and cracking to the lining along the insole of the right shoe (photo #7 shows these issues).
Though these shoes display beautifully and are fascinating for study, they are extremely narrow as well as delicate and in my opinion unsuitable for actual wear.
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild