Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vitality Shoes (1950-1953)

Good afternoon!

I'm a little late on posting today, but with good reason. The reference floor staff here at the library surprised me with a mini-work-wedding-shower! A copy of Betty Goes Vegan, a pretty card, and a gift certificate to Bed Bath and Beyond were all waiting for me in the east workroom. My friend Amy even got an enormous vegan cake from Whole Foods! Beautiful, non-dairy yellow and sage rosettes decorated the edges, with "Congratulations, Lisa!" iced across (many coworker asides of "What's in it?!" and "It's actually good!"). It was super sweet. Weddings, dude-- the whole process continues to bowl me over with the outpouring of kindness from friends and relations. If I live through this next week without bawling my eyes out for one reason or another, I think I'll be in good shape!

In non wedding related news-- shoes. Ohm'god, shoes.

Vitality Shoe Company, running out of good old St. Louis, MO, was an American shoe manufacturer-- I tried, in vain, to find more information about the brand, but only turned up a few instances of advertisements dating back to the late thirties', and these GORgeous paid panels in Life magazine, circa 1950-1953. LOOK. AT. THESE. SHOES. I know these are bound to be the "choicest" of selections from their spring and fall lineups those years, but note that there is a nary a dud in the entire spread. And that's rare! I can't think of a series of shoes I've seen in a magazine where ONE didn't command unfavorable comparison to chopped liver. I think the little off-kilter straps on those black heels above are nothing short of spectacular, but heck, they're all cute!

Here again a series of heels. Something I notice about fifties' and earlier shoes-- those stout, stylish talons on the back of 'em! I feel like everytime I go shoe-shopping, I'm being forced into one of three shoe-silhouettes-- the flip flop, the ultra-wedge, or the stiletto. Now, wedges I can wear with aplomb, but I sure do get tired of Sharon Stone movie murder weapon like teetering footwear, or the beach wear staple that allows one to hear me coming from a mile off (inelegant! INELEGANT!). I'm not a huge fan of flats because, like every other woman alive, I'd like my pins to appear as slim and fine-turned as possible, but I also know I'm not wasting an evening's foot pain on making myself six four for no reason. I would welcome this kind of shoe, but outside of vintage reproductions, I feel like there are few and far between to be found! When someone mentions Ginger Rogers doing everything Astaire does but backwards, in heels...heck, if I had a heel like this to support me, maybe I wouldn't be as wary of evening footwear as I am!

A spring display:

Oh, that red slingback. OHHH, those strappy black centerpiece shoes! Do you ever see anything like this out and about? I see sixties' buckled flats out all the time at Goodwill (in impossibly small sizes, natch), and I see some pretty, hard-lived busted leather pumps from the forties' every once and awhile, but I think I've hardly-next-to-never seen a pair of late forties' or early fifties' shoes that didn't look like they'd been drug under a tractor out in the wilds of non-Ebay, real-life vintage shopping. Maybe if I had smaller feet, I'd be on the hunt more often and thus see more examples of what I'm talking about...have I turned a blind eye out of spite? Or are they just not around?
While prom dresses and wedding dresses and good, well-cut coats are something a woman might hold on to her entire life due to the sentimental factor or the cost of these items, I guess shoes are more something, barring deadstock, that are worn and worn and worn, and then discarded? I was thinking at the desk today of all the shoes I'd really loved in high school, from a battered pair of Mary Janes to a peeptoe pair of sandals, to mid-calf biker boots I wore until the actual heel was trying to flop off-- none of these early 2000's shoes were made to last! I wore them for a year or two, and as they started to look too shabby or as parts became worn and then actually missing-- well, you had to toss 'em. I still have a pair of black low top Converses from year of our Lord 2003, but I think that's the eldest of my shoes. Do you have a similar situation with your shoe wardrobe? Or do you buy quality that will last (I am obviously not guilty of this)?

I will say I spied some larger sized shoes on the Ooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Shop facebook page (I haven't pulled the trigger on anything from these lovely vintage collectin' ladies, yet, but MY have I been TEMPTED, again and again)...see this listing for more from the seller. Size nine is still too small! I wonder if I'd been my same age in the fifties', and nourished with 1925-1950 food, if I would have grown to my gargantuan size? Maybe 1951 me could have worn a nine! My six-foot tall grandmother wore that size in the forties' (a 9 AAA, at that), but grew into a 10.5 by the time I was around to notice her similarly oversized feet.

So! What do you think about vintage shoes like this? Have any of the real deal? Good reproductions? Where do you look for vintage or vintage inspired footwear to go with your best circle skirt or patio dress? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.


  1. So, with all this interest in vintage reproduction dresses, you'd think they'd come out with "vintage repro" SHOES! I too hate all the overly-high hooker heels that are so popular these days; twenty years from now there are going to be an awful LOT of middle-aged women limping around with victoriabeckham deformed feet! Three inches is high enough for a heel, IMOHO; maybe a tad higher if the sole has a BIT of a platform (half an inch is sufficient, thank you!) One can see here that one does not need a hooker heel height to look pretty and feminine! I adore "waisted" heels like those on the blue pair, myself; so pretty!

    1. PREACH, SISTER. I agree! I'm going to be on the hunt for some not-granny, but also not-hooker heels in the not so distant future, these ads have convinced me!

  2. Check our Indigo by Clark's. They make some very nice quality shoes that pass for vintage. I've worn some of them for close to 5 years and they are still in very good shape.
    I wish you'd do a post on Famolares. Those were THE shoes of my heart in the 70's.

    1. I am going to get a pair of those Clarks, by Godfrey. You're right, they're perfect for this style of shoe!!

      Also, yes?! Famolare! I have seen these kinds of shoes out but never knew what they were called. The wavy wedge platform! I used to have some Target knockoffs of the oxford-style, brown suede shoes, I wish I still did. I think they were the victim of a closet purge. But what is had once can be had again!



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