18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century

There is just something about red shoes

I just love red shoes.  They are like happiness for your feet.

Amazingly, I’ve owned very few red shoes, because the modern ones just aren’t as pretty as my historical ideals.

Want to see some of the ones I lust after?

This pair is darling, but so practical.  If a modern shoe company came out with a replica, I would buy them in a heartbeat!

Red leather shoes, American, end of 19th century, Museum of FIne Arts Boston,51.1997

This pair may not be quite as practical, but, oh, that fabric!

Shoes, 1732—59, British, silk, leather, metal, Metropolitan Museum of Art

And just imagine how gorgeous these shoes would have looked when worn, with the little tassel swaying jauntily with each step.  Darling!

Slippers, 1790—1810, European, leather, silk, metal, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Actually, now that I think of it, that tassel and buckle is something I could do myself.  I must make it happen!

I like the juxtaposition of the tasseled pair and this much more recent pair.  I’d wear either in a heartbeat.

Shoes, Albion, 1956, Italian, leather, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Speaking of red and black shoes, the next pair is more red than black, but I think we can agree they deserve to be featured.  They are embroidered in strawberries after all!

Shoes with strawberries, 1760-1770, Hampshire City Council Museum

Speaking of patterns, was I ever not going to like a shoe in red and gold with a Greek key variant?

Shoes, French, leather, 1920-28, Paris, Musee international de la Chaussure

The shape of the next shoe doesn’t make my heart flutter, but the overall effect does.  Red stripes!  Happiness!

Shoes, 1845—60, French (probably), cotton, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I’ve shown these sandals before in my Regency sandal post, but they are too fantastic not to post again:

Sandals, 1800-1825, leather, Manchester City Galleries

My late 1930s wardrobe is much sadder for not including these shoes:

Shoes, Delman, 1937—39, American, leather, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

And finally, for the most fabulously ridiculous pair of red shoes ever:

Slippers, Rosenbloom’s, ca. 1892, American, leather, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Do you like red shoes?  Or do you subscribe to the idea that they are ‘common’?  Which is your favourite?



  1. I would buy the second-to-last pair from the 30s in a heartbeat! I wonder if there’s some way to make something similar… maybe I could to take regular heels and add on so they look like they have a wedge with a hole and then cover them…

    • I’m a big fan of American Duchess, but unfortunately her shoes don’t fit my feet. All the pairs I have tried on, including the narrowest cuts, have been way too wide for my feet. I actually own the Astoria, but I can only let models wear them and wish I could. When I do the fit is frankly ridiculous.

  2. fidelio says

    I’ve seen some wonderful red shoes shoes, and some that were wonderfully trashy. I had a pair of high-heeled pumps in red snakeskin back in the 1980s that could go either way, depending on what they were worn with, and another wonderful pair of more moderate height, with narrow Cuban heels in black, and the leather wrapped in a little twist at the throat. The latter were wonderful at making anything they were worn with more chic, without looking tacky ever.

  3. Demented Seamstress says

    metmuseum.orgThey are fabulous! I don’t think red shoes are “common” because I hardly ever see them on peoples feet.
    I love all the shoes in this post, except the weird 30’s ones with the holes in the heels.
    Thank you so much for including the black ones with strawberries, I had never seen them before and I love them! Strawberries! They fill me with joy and remind me of my favorite pair of pockets ever.


    (I WILL own a reproduction of those pockets someday.)

  4. I love red shoes. I always try to have at least one pair. My last were red leather mary janes. I’ve got some red patent heels (you no the improbable stacked shoes that are in fashion right now). They are what I call my sitting down shoes. I only wear them if I’m sitting down 90%+ of the time. lol!

    • I’m not that organized with my red shoe owning, but I can understand the feeling!

      I had to give up on ‘sitting down shoes’ once I moved to Wellington – it’s just too hilly!

    • Demented Seamstress says

      Wow. Those are insane. Who has ankles that far forward on their foot?

    • Miss Joie de Vivre says

      These I want with an almost physical longing. This will surprise no one who knows me.

    • I think I’ve posted about those shoes, but I can’t find it. I’m not a fan. Too extreme. A little subtlety is a good thing!

      • Daniel says

        Oh, I agree – too extreme – but at the same time, rather marvellously sculptural.

  5. I love them. today I wore my red victorian lace up boots that kevin garlick made for me

    I like those greek key ones too

  6. I always stare at red shoes when others are wearing them. Either because they make the wearer look strumpty or stylin’. I have one pair of red flats but I never think to wear them. They seem to garish and loud for work. And the rest of the time I worry about looking trashy. I doubt I’d be mistaken for stylish. I also worry about clashing with the rest of my outfit and moving into the tacky genre.

  7. Elise says

    I used to ONLY wear red shoes. I thought I looked amazing. I’m sure that I still do, but now I like better to blend in than stand out in much of any way.

    I always admire red shoes! (Even if I don’t wear them, now)

  8. Miss Joie de Vivre says

    I love red shoes and have 3 pairs (although one is verging on burgundy so maybe shouldn’t be counted.) But I always think of a friend of MrsC’s who told me (on a day we were both wearing red shied) that a friend told her that it was well known that women who wear red shoes don’t wear underwear. We checked. We were both wearing underwear. Maybe we are anomalies.

    • Is this like ‘Women who have black knickers will sleep with you?”

      Can you imagine me not wearing underwear? I’m sitting with you on the (probably extremely crowded) anomaly bench!

      • Miss Joie de Vivre says

        I’m sure you’re a firmly ensconced member of the knicker wearing section of society 🙂

        • I think the problem is going to be finding anyone for the non-knicker wearing, red-shoe flaunting bench – or at least anyone who will fess up to it!

  9. karenb says

    I like the greek key shoes best. I love the colour red in a shoe but I have big feet and skinny ankles so wont wear red shoes as all I can see when I look down is these red feet shouting out look at me! and that’s just what I don’t want.
    Shall I admit I got a new pair of red shoes dyed black?

    • But if you have skinny ankles red shoes would just emphasize how dainty they were! As someone who doesn’t have skinny ankles, I envy you!

  10. Four pairs here, ranging from the oxblood heels which live under my desk at work to the cherry-patent lace up flats (they wouldn’t fit you, Joie deV) and I always have at least one. No better way to relieve the unrelenting tide of Wellington public service black.

  11. I love red shoes, and so did my mother. Her take on them was that since they usually didn’t match anything, you could wear them with EVERYTHING!

  12. I agree, there is something about red shoes. In fact, I’m wearing red shoes today. When I was little, I always subscribed to the shoe version of the sports car theory – red shoes always made me run faster!

  13. I haven’t owned a pair of red shoes in a long time. I keep buying neutrals because I never know when I’m going to be able to afford a new pair, so whatever I buy must go with everything, but I love red shoes. I owned quite a few pairs in the eighties. Back then I had a few jobs in shoe depts. and shoe stores. At one point I had 150 pairs of shoes, about 15 of them red. The 80s had amazing shoes and most of the styles seemed to be made for my narrow foot.

    I would kill for the Delmans in any color.

    • Goodness, 150 pairs of shoes! Mr Dreamy would not be pleased!

      The Delmans are beyond scrumptious aren’t they? As much as I like them in red, I’d probably faint of happiness if I saw them in bottle green.

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