A History Of Shoes From The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Jan 19, 2015

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, plan to be there for an entire day – there is simply so much to see. From mummies to knights, famous paintings to long hallways of sculptures, a person can truly get lost among the many wonders. While some of 2016’s popular exhibits include architecture from the Ancient Americas and Veronese art of the 16th century, the exhibitions at the Met are changing all the time. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of collections kept in storage, some of which can be viewed online here.

One of those collections has over 5,000 pairs of shoes, hailing from all over the world. The variety of craftsmanship, styles and designs are a fascinating look back at what people have deemed “fashionable” over time. Just think – what looks good to us now may one day end up at the Met!

1. In the late 1500s and early 1600s, these wedge heels were not only fashionable, but helped keep women’s long dresses and petticoats clean. 

2. Leather and silk sandals were all the rage in 1600s Italy. The open toe was perfect for warm summers – although walking on that tiny heel must have been a challenge! 

3. By the 1700s, colorful shoes with a small heel, pointed toe and lots of embroidery were popular all over Europe. 

4. So popular, in fact, that they were worn by men and woman alike. It would be many generations before delicate, floral patterns like these were thought of as “girly.” 

5. It doesn’t get any more classic than these wooden clogs from the 1800s. Based on the design, the Met believes them to be from the Netherlands. 

6. These boots were commonly worn by American brides around 1875. There was even a special tool known as a “button hook” to help women quickly pull the buttons through the holes. 

7. This intricate clog dates back to 19th century Turkey. Made of mother-of-pearl, metallic thread and metal, a shoe like this would reveal the upper class status of its wearer.  

8. Also from the 19th century are these red leather Hungarian boots. Anyone else wishing they had a pair?!


9. During the late 19th century, the Manchu ethnic minority group wore high-wedged slippers. Much like the wedge heels of 1500s Europe, they were as much for fashion as they were keeping the hem of long garments clean. 

10. Ghanaians designed these leather lion sandals sometime the 20th century. If Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones saw these, she would be green with envy. 

11. Small heels and a pointed toe made a comeback in Italian designer Pierre Yantorny’s 1925 – 1930 collection. The wooden block was meant to help the leather shoe retain its shape – nearly 100 years later, it seems to be working. 

12. These Parisian sandals look like they belong in the 1970s, but they were designed in 1940 by Maniatis Bottier. Clearly, he was ahead of his time. 

13. Although they are covered in silk, something tells me that these Italian ankle boots from 1949 would be really uncomfortable. 

14. Nothing says glamour like these cobalt blue pumps from 1960 by Roger Vivier. 

15. Did Aladdin lose a shoe? In Emilio Pucci’s 1964 – 65 collection, these were thought to have an “exotic flair.” 

16. 1967 was a time for experimentation, as you can see from French designer Andrea Pfister’s zebra-print boot. 

17. In the 1970s, colorful wedges like these were a standard in Italy ...

18. While ’75 introduced Americans to funky “hippie” boots, available at the popular department store, Kaufmann’s. 


19. Vivienne Westwood designed these comfy-looking boots in 1981. At the time, they were thought to be “futuristic.” 

20. I wouldn’t wear them every day, but I would definitely rock these banana ballerina flats on special occasions! There’s something very Andy Warhol about French designer Isabel Canovas’s unique design. 

21. The House of Channel designed these snow boots for their 1993 – 94 winter collection. With a name brand like that, I doubt many people used them for jumping in puddles. 

22. Stiletto heels were all the rage in the late 1990s. Luckily, most women soon realized it’s not cute if you can’t walk. 

23. However, that fact doesn’t stop us from drooling over these ombre red pumps from the same time period. 

24. Helmut Lang took shag to the next level with the design of these 2004 horse hair boots. 

25. It’s hard to know what to call a heel without a heel, but that’s exactly what Manolo Blanik designed in 2006. No wonder the Met wanted the gravity-defying creation in its collection! 

Via: Lifebuzz | Metropolitan Museum of Art

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