Monday, July 13, 2009

The lure of the shoe

This weekend, I attended the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) Conference in Penrith, in the beautiful Lake District. Saturday night is the Gala Dinner, so suitably attired, I left my room to head for the restaurant.

Only to go back again. I wore a beautiful pair of lavender coloured shoes, with flowers on the toe strap, decorated with pearls. I’d fallen in love with them in the shop, and bought them on the spot. But by the time I’d managed 50 yards, I hated them and I knew that by the end of the evening, I wouldn’t care about anything but how much my feet hurt.

Now I know that Shoes of the Devil have a habit of hanging around. I’d reason that maybe another time they wouldn’t feel so bad, that it was just a bad night. Then I’d put them on again and it would be the same. So I left them in my room, in the hope that someone would find them. The cleaning staff found them, and in front of the whole conference, Katie Fforde, our illustrious Pres, flourished them. So I had to own up. And yes, my Shoes of the Devil found another owner. Well, in a room full of shoe lovers, they were bound to. I just hope they are Shoes From Heaven for their new owner.

And it started me thinking. I think women have adored shoes since the first cavewoman wrapped a few jungle leaves around her feet and then stood up and decided that they might look better with a twig between the toes.

In the Georgian period, women could have shoes to die for. My books are mostly set in the 1750’s, and the shoes they wore then were mouthwatering. Gorgeous diamond-encrusted buckles decorated shoes with two or three inch heels made of brocade, silk, or even the softest leather. They had boots, too, to wear with their riding habits. Even the practical, everyday wear, leather buckled shoes are extremely pretty.

And the men weren’t far behind. Masculine versions, with a fashion for red heels in the 1750’s and 1760’s, the leather shoes set off the flamboyant, peacock fashions with a vengeance.

Later, in the Regency period, the ladies wore low-heeled shoes in what we would consider ballet-style. Comfortable and pretty.

The men also wore shoes, pumps for evening wear and shoes for town. And boots. Daywear for the fashionable man about town included extravagantly decorated, highly polished boots of mid thigh or knee-length variety. But no boots in the ballroom, ever!

1 comment:

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