The Edwardian era roughly spans 1900-1920. It was the time between the ornate Victorian era and the dazzling Roaring Twenties. Edwardian shoes saw more diversity as the years progressed — no longer were women in boots all day long with a growing choice of lower heel Oxfords, pumps, and even flats.
Between the recent Titanic anniversary and the fan favorite Downton Abbey TV show, there has been a renewed interest in this era, both for reenactors and themed event attendees. As I was browsing for new Edwardian styles shoes for my Edwardian Style Boots and Shoes shop page, I went back to my vintage catalogs to see just what styles of shoes were popular for women.
Here is a sampling of Edwardian boots and shoes that I found:
Just like the Victorian era before, Edwardian women continued to wear lace up or button up tall boots. They usually came to mid-calf or a tad lower and laced up 3/4 to all the way. While primarily made of black or deep brown leather, they could also have inserts of canvas or pretty embroidered fabrics into the shaft. Later styles included two tone boots of black and white/ivory. All white/ivory boots were popular for evening attire. The difference between the beginning and end of the Edwardian years was in the shape of the toe, arch and heel shape. These are details I will get into in a future article.
The pull-on boot is an early style of the Chelsea boot. It had one or two elastic panels on the sides and pull tabs on the front and back. It was easy to slip on and off, unlike lace or button boots. They were popular as a home or garden boot, as well as for the elderly.
Edwardian Shoes: Oxfords
Besides boots, the Oxford shoe was an Edwardian shoe era favorite. It featured a moderate heel that laced up the vamp. Most had a toe cap that was a bit taller on the ball so toes had room to wiggle. Oxfords were usually worn as a house or walking shoe with an informal suit or skirt and blouse. A very low heel Oxford with (or usually without) laces was a working woman’s shoe. It was the most comfortable and easiest to clean shoe of the group.
Edwardian Shoes: Slippers and Pumps
Edwardian slippers were not just for bedrooms. They were evening shoes for dinner, dancing and weddings. The most common style was the Mary Jane with a single strap across the vamp that ended with a button made of pearl, plastic, bone, mother of pearl, metal or crystal. Some slippers featured multiple straps or a single wide button on flap across the vamp. These were often heavily beaded for evening wear. Another style was the “colonial” slipper with a large tongue and buckle that mimicked the style of 18th century shoes.
A simple fancy shoe was the classic pump. Without a strap or lacing they were only worn for standing occasions. They did not do well for dancing or extended walking although I am sure some women did so just fine.
Just like today’s pumps, they were slip-in style with toe decorations. A pom pom, shoe clip, buckle or other sparkling ornament on the top added something special to the shoe, transforming it from day to night.
Edwardian Bedroom Shoes
Slippers also were named for bedroom shoes. Warm and cozy, they came in the colonial, opera, or pump style with a lining of fur, felted wool, or quilted cotton. Many came with a puffy pom pom on top of the the vamp. Other had embroidered designs on the vamp or all over. I wish my bedroom slippers were as pretty as these!