Warning: gzinflate() [function.gzinflate]: data error in /home/ssowner/public_html/wp-includes/http.php on line 1787
Necessity compelled our primitive ancestors to invent a method of protecting their feet from rough forest floors, jagged rocks, hot sands, cold snow and rugged terrain. Early footwear was made from layering leaves together and later from animal skin. Then came the sandal, whose early form was a simple piece of plaited grass or rawhide strapped to the feet. Eventually, sandal making became a recognized art in Egyptian history.
Records of the Egyptians and Chinese as well as other early civilizations all have recorded references to shoes. The shoe is mentioned several times in the Bible and it held legal significance with the Hebrews, notably in binding a bargain. There have also been ancient hieroglyphics found in caves depicting men wearing shoes.
The Egyptians favored beautiful and artistic sandals. The Greeks stressed design and beauty while the Romans created a military sandal that enabled their armies to travel throughout the empire.
In many ancient cultures, shoes held social status. Shoes allow us to experience the ideals of beauty and culture from the era they were crafted in. The krepis was a soldier’s shoe of ancient Greece and a carved tongue indicated a free man or citizen. A Roman officer’s rank was noted by the height of the shoe; the higher the shoe, the higher the rank. A Pharaoh’s sandal had a long, peaked toe to denote a king, prince or priest.
In the 16th Century, only nobles and well-to-do people could wear shoes in East India. Also during this time, women in Florence were wearing platform shoes known as chopines. The chopines were worn to increase a woman’s height. They were often 24 inches off the ground and ladies had to be escorted through the streets. Some historians believe the modern day high heel originates from the chopine.
The first Oxford was worn by Oxford University students in the 17th Century.
By the 18th Century, satin pumps with high heels and pointed toes became fashionable for women. Toes became rounded and heels became lower so that by the end of the century, low cut slippers were in style. Women used a noisy metal device to walk on cobbles and mud, in order to protect delicate slippers. The jack boot also became a popular boot for men. The heavy jack leather boot was worn over slippers or shoes.
The Chinese had a custom in the 19th Century of binding women’s feet from infancy, resulting in stunted feet and tiny shoes. A Japanese Geisha wore shoes on stilts. European evening shoes were usually court shoes with a small, Louis heel and often embellished with embroidery or metallic thread, glass, or jet beading on the toes.
During the 20th Century, the two World Wars did no just change people’s lives in dramatic ways, but also the shape and style of footwear. As men went off to fight in Europe, women were left at home to run factories. As women’s independence increased, so did their levels of activity and the desire for more practical shoes. People were encouraged to be less frivolous and men’s and women’s shoes began to look similar.
When the turbulent 60’s and 70’s rolled around, shoes began reflecting the rampant experimentation with color, texture, shape and style. Young people bought up all the boots, sandals, and shoes that designers could throw at them. Everything from citrus colored sandals to spacey, iridescent rainbow platforms to classic colonial or Edwardian style pumps were in demand.
Today, just about anything goes where the shoe is concerned. From stilettos to platforms to sneakers to flip-flops to ballet shoes and more, people use shoes to express themselves.
The history of shoes and their meanings is celebrated and preserved and shoes are carefully stored and put on display in countless museums around the world. The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Ontario houses over 10,000 shoes and highlights over 4,500 years of footwear with exhibits ranging from Chinese bound foot shoes to Egyptian sandals to chestnut crushing clogs. The TUPSM Shoe Museum also housed over 900 shoes.
Today, shoes can tell the economic and social status, values and style of the wearer. By looking at a shoe, one can pick up certain personality traits of the owner. The shape of the shoe can help determine how the wearer stands and walks. Shoes also show how the individual feels about fashion. Looking at the monetary value, brand name, and condition of the shoe can help tell about the owner’s fashion.
The ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz inspired the shoe that holds the world record for being the most expensive shoe. The shoe is stored in a locked, bulletproof case with a full time guard at Harrods in London. The shoe is woven from platinum thread, set with 642 rubies, and cost $1.6 million.
Because shoes hold meaning and insight into the wearer as well as to society, preserving and taking good care of ones shoes is important. In the United States, it is not uncommon for a woman to own a closet full of shoes and perhaps hundreds of pairs over her lifetime. Shoes purchased for special occasions such as weddings or high-class events can become heirlooms and valuable treasures. Where to put a shoe for safekeeping has become an industry in and of itself.
There seems to be an impulse to walk in the door of our homes and kick off our shoes right where we stand. This urge to get comfortable might leave our piggies feeling free but shoes can become lost or damaged if they are left lying carelessly about. Not to mention the hazard a stiletto left on the stairs can cause.
There are several options in shoe storage. Popular options are shoe racks, over the door organizers, shoe sized cubby holes, shoe boxes, rotating shoe racks, shoe trees, shoe benches, shoe armoires and more.
Proper shoe storage will extend the life span of your shoes and keep them in good shape. During a normal day your feet produce over ¼ cup of moisture and up to ½ cup when active. Cedar shoe trees have been proven to extend the life of leather shoes for up to three times their expected life span. The cedar shoe storage draws moisture out of the shoe, keeping it from wrinkling or cracking.
A recent survey showed that eight out of ten women polled by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons said that their shoes were painful. Nine out of ten women wear shoes that are too small, according to the same survey. American women’s feet are also becoming larger. In 1986 12% of American women had shoe size 9.5 or higher. In 1994 that number increased to 17%. In 1998, 30.4 of all women’s shoes sold were size 9 or above.
Shoe shopping is quickly becoming America’s favorite pastime. With more shoes destined for your closet, consider a more suitable shoe storage solution.
There are also several shoe care tips that can expand the life span of your shoes.
Rotate your shoes and avoid wearing them for consecutive days.
Add a rubber sole protector to the bottom of your shoe. This will protect the shoe’s sole from wear and tear. Sole protectors can be water resistant and also skid proof.
Use a shoe horn when putting on your shoes. This will save the heel collar and counter from unnecessary wear.
Clean your shoes on a regular basis. Cleaning methods depend on the shoe’s material. Leather can be polished and conditioned with a leather lotion. Suede looks best when brushed. Fabric should also be sprayed with a stain guard.
Avoid putting your shoes in direct heat as this may allow some materials to dry out or become brittle.
When traveling, use a separate bag or suitcase for shoe storage. This will also help keep dirt from falling onto your clothes.
There is no mistaking the importance shoes have on our sense of style and culture. They reflect the conditions around us, including politics, religion, economy and practicality. Shoes tell a story about us. A favorite shoe is worth holding onto and worth storing in a safe place.