I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
I've been thinking a lot about shoes lately. (Nothing new there, I guess.) It strikes me as interesting that when we talk about retro shoes, we often seem to mean those influenced by the 30s and 40s: t-straps, babydoll pumps, wedge sandals, etc.—even if we favor fashions of the 50s. I personally tend to pair 50s inspired clothes with 40s-style shoes, like platform pumps. But the most popular shoe of the early to mid 50s was the pointed-toe stiletto, a shape that strikes me as very modern. (And sometimes, unfortunately, very 80s.)
But the research I've been doing into 50s stilettos has turned up some real beauties, like the pink satin pair above. They were designed by Roger Vivier for Dior. According to the V&A and this excellent article, Vivier is credited with inventing both the stiletto and the comma heel, pictured below.
The comma heel is quite unusual even to the modern eye, but isn't it amazing that the stiletto heel didn't exist until the 50s? The silk pair below are from Herbert Levine, another classic and coveted brand of the 1950s.
The shape seems so timeless now. Interestingly, though, it's quite difficult to find shoes that emulate that curvy stiletto shape of the 50s (believe me, I've looked through pages and pages of shoes looking for something similar). Our heels are much more straight and columnar now. The closest I could find were these:
See the curvy shape of the heel?
I do love this look, though I can't say I see myself wearing something like this regularly. I love round-toe pumps with a bit of a platform for comfort. And if I'm doing a moderate amount of walking (which is pretty much everyday since I live in New York and don't have a car), I opt for flats to get me to and from the office.
What do you think of the 50s stiletto shape? Any recommendations for comfort and where to find a good modern equivalent? Please share!