VINTAGE SHOES – worn in or worn out?

The trend for vintage clothing has grown and grown over the past few decades. It can be an affordable way to buy good quality garments, and to avoid contributing to the increasing culture of throw-away fashion. The question remains though, would you buy Vintage shoes?

If you have owned and worn a pair of shoes for a long time, you may be familiar with the feeling of developing a close relationship with your footwear. I am not just being romantic when I say that shoes can become an extension of the wearer. They in fact usually mould somewhat to the wearer’s foot shape and gait:

  • Any padding in the insole/footbed will usually become flattened by your foot, and will remain padded in the gaps between your toes, under your arch, and around the foot. This creates a sort of cradle for your specific foot.
  • The creases which form across the front of the shoe, form exactly at the point where your feet flex when walking: creases at the ankle form in the same way on boots.
  • The sole and heel will be more worn-down in particular places depending on your posture, how you walk, and if your feet pronate (roll inwards) or supinate (roll outwards).
  • The footwear will wear in (essentially meaning a softening of the upper) to the contours of your feet.

It is still possible to purchase what is known as “Dead Stock”: Vintage clothing which was never worn or sold, but has usually been stored in a warehouse since its production many years ago. Dead Stock shoes can sometimes be purchased complete with the original box. Buying such items enables the wearer to wear in their shoes, whilst still achieving the genuine Vintage look.

Some footwear, for example stiff work boots, can benefit from being pre-worn, as the discomfort of wearing in such a product is alleviated.

On the whole however, the more a shoe has been worn, the less wear it will have left to offer. A good shoe repairer can resurrect footwear, by re-soling or fitting new top-pieces (heel-tips), but cannot perform miracles where for example the upper leather has cracked.

Be aware that ladies Vintage footwear tends to be quite narrow in width, and therefore is not suitable for all feet.

Also, ensure that any Vintage footwear you purchase does not have an unpleasant odour: this will not fade with time.

If you want your shoes to wear in to your specific foot-shape, and to last for a long time, buy new.

If the shoe fits, is pleasant to smell, looks fabulous, and the price is right, why not buy vintage? 

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