Shoe heels of the late 1700s gradually diminished and became more delicate in proportion, while toes became increasingly pointed. Buckles went entirely out of style by the end of the century. By 1800, flat slip-on shoes with pointed toes were in vogue, sometimes embellished with spangles, tassels, or printed designs. Pointed toes soon gave way to more rounded ones by 1805, and the length of the vamp (the upper part of the shoe) began to expand. Pictured here are, roughly in chronological order from “twelve o’clock,” a dozen shoes from the mid-1700s through 1820s.
Clockwise, from top: blue silk satin shoe with spangles and silver embroidery, 1780s, 78.65.3, gift of Marah Mccoy Anderson; ivory silk shoe with linen lining and pleated silk ribbon trim, 1785-1795, 60.74, gift of the George Clymer Chapter; blue and white printed leather shoe, 1785-1795, made by Bruckner, London, 98.56, gift of Helen Ostrander Stockton; white satin shoe, c. 1795-1800, 91.452, DAR Museum; pink and black printed leather shoe with blue silk cord tie, 1790-1800, made by M. Moggridge, London, 1685, gift of Mrs. James Lee; white kid leather shoe with tassel rosette, about 1802, possible wedding slipper of Elizabeth Bowie Davis, 47.61, gift of Ruth Worthington Bowie Houghton; stamped brown leather shoe, 1770-1797, possibly made by Abel Alley, Lynn, MA, owned by Samuel Warren Hackett, 56.77.1, gift of Beverly Bostick Dean; olive green silk satin shoe updated with silk ribbon insert at vamp and silk ribbon bow, c. 1805-1815, 82.138.13, gift of Margaret Merritt Broecker; black leather shoe, c. 1810, possibly made in Lynn, MA, 56.77.2, gift of Beverly Bostick Dean; ivory kid leather shoe with silk ribbon tie, c. 1810, private collection; tan leather show, c. 1830, 82.138.5, gift of Margaret Merritt Broecker; olive green silk velvet shoe, c. 1824, worn in Virginia, 68.186, gift of Mrs. William F. Hellmuth in honor of Elizabeth Calvert Taylor and Mary Moseley DeBree; white wool shoe, silk ribbon trim, rosette, and ankle ties, steel paillette, 1810s, 68.188.1, gift of Mary B. Hopkins .