A century of shoes

April 10, 2024

These are NOT from the exhibition.

Here’s more from the Fashioning San Francisco: a Century of Style, the retrospective of San Francisco fashion that opened at the deYoung Museum in February. These shoes were quite something! (see the fashion post, HERE.)

As I said in my prior post, many of these designer items were either donated by the families of San Francisco socialites or on loan from those who are still living. The whole exhibit was colorful, fun and evocative, but some of these shoes were… well, you come up with the adjective.

These truly did not seem like shoes a female socialite would wear. But I was wrong.

To my surprise, these were women’s shoes, worn by the late Dodie Rosencrans, a San Francisco socialite known for her fashion sense. And apparently, her parties. Such interesting shoes, though!

These were also hers. I was struck by Dodie’s long, narrow foot, because these really did seem like “canal boats.”



I have never been delicate enough to pull these off. But they’re stunning, no? credit: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

On the other side of the spectrum—from 1972 and I’d wear these today. Under a midi skirt or with jeans. Wait. Would I? Nahh, not the patchwork. But the style for sure.  No, not particularly feminine. But…

I remember this era as it first happened. I was a late teen and these shoes definitely scream 1969. I did love the clunky shoe era. They were comfortable. I can still remember my first pair. Brown leather, sort of a medium brown. I wore them my freshman year in college: 1969.

These Pradas look like they got some wear. Love the heel. Was the strap included so they didn’t come off while dancing? Or was it a design feature?

I can picture Jackie Kennedy wearing these. Don’t they perfectly depict the 1950s and early 1960s?

From 1940 —but wedges came back in the latter half of the 20th century because they are so comfortable. And they’re still in style. I do love a wedge shoe and these are lovely. I can see my mother wearing them. Heck, I’d like to wear them, myself!.

I love the Edwardian era so much. These remind me of all the Edwardian period pieces that are so popular on the small screen today.

This is just a small taste of the shoes on display through August 11. I’ll be returning to spend more time there.

So–what kind of shoes do you like? Do you have a favorite among these?

8 comments on “A century of shoes
  1. What a fun museum. I’ve been working from home for nearly 30 years and have become so so lazy about shoes! Especially since I spend most of my time barefoot. If I start putting together a shoe wardrobe again, I think I want to be a little whimsical, like some of the shoes in your post. 🙂

    • The exhibition is one of their best and I will go at least one other time because really, it’s a lot and so gorgeous! Yes, Dodie loved her whimsical shoes, definitely an expression!

  2. Alana says:

    I’m no fun. I wear Brooks running shoes almost all the time. I have an extra-wide foot and I have to mail order shoes that I can fit into (plus no more heels or backless shoes for me) but wow, those grey shoes. Those are works of art.

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    Love the old-fashioned shoes that are so tiny. Like a quick glimpse into the far past.

  4. Dawn says:

    These are lovely and so well made. I’ve had to be so much more careful about my shoes since I’ve sprained an ankle and injured a toe. I’m sad about that but I now have a fabulous array of sneakers to choose from and also low healed booties. That means that many backless shoes will be donated and I am having trouble doing that as my wide foot is hard to fit. I do have an impractical fondness for shoes without the budget.

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