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For The Love Of Shoes – Building a Wardrobe

By Polly Polka-Dot of Pollydot Shoes blog

Image of Polly: James Horan for Sydney Living Museums – www.jameshoranshootspeople.com

Polly Polka-Dot is a polka-dot obsessed pin-up girl, store owner and blogger with a weakness for pretty shoes.

Shoes, glorious shoes! I am sure we can all admit to having fallen head over heels (do you see what I did there!?) for an amazing pair of shoes at least once in our life – declaring that we would stop at nothing to make them ours! Or, if you are like me, that is pretty much a weekly occurrence these days (this week it was the new Nita from Royal Vintage Shoes!). What is it about an amazing shoe that can excite our hearts and empty our bank accounts like no other? For me, as a short statured lady at only 5’1”, I love the bit of height that heels can give me, but I think more than that it is the look that they create. I always feel more polished and put together and just right, when I am wearing the perfect heel.
Yes, I’m definitely a heel lover, I probably have about 100 pairs, but I’m kind of afraid to count and find out for certain…

Obviously heels aren’t for everyone and in a vintage loving community like this, where people are interested in many different eras and styles, there will always be a range of tastes and aesthetic ideals. I love wearing true vintage 1950s and early 60s shoes, but to be honest I feel more comfortable in reproduction and high street purchases, so I don’t have to worry that I might destroy an irreplaceable piece of history.

shoe-close-up

For me, the most important thing about picking shoes is that I can work them into a matching set of accessories to go with multiple outfits. I wear a lot of patterned dresses so I prefer to have plain shoes and bags; if I want to wear a patterned shoe, I will make sure I wear a plain dress, as to me this is a more authentic 50s look.

These days I am all about future planning and what I like to call ‘building a wardrobe,’ which essentially means buying my clothing and accessories in a considered way knowing that I will want to keep them forever. When your style isn’t the current fashion, it doesn’t really matter how long you keep things! I try to buy shoes and bags that are one colour and I do the same with cardigans and other accessories. If I find a shoe, cardigan or bag in a particular colour I like, I first think about if I will be able to find the rest of the accessories in the same colour needed to complete a full look; if I can find them right away or if I know it is an easy colour to come by, then I will buy… but sometimes I will just buy because I love them and hope for the best!

cobalt-heels
In the 50s, finding a matching shoe and bag was somewhat easier as they often came in matching sets. If you can find one of those today, in good condition and with the shoe in your size, you have won the jackpot! I managed to procure one such matching set last year on Ooh La La (everybody’s favourite vintage haunt). I could not believe my luck and as it happens, they were in a magenta colour, in which I had been searching for accessories for about three years. Good vintage comes to those who wait!

Something else to consider is the practicality of what you are buying, be that vintage or repro; you should at least try to consider when, where and what you will be wearing them with. It probably seems like common sense, but I think a lot of us have ‘shiny object syndrome’ and don’t think through if the purchase is actually going to suit our needs. As an example, the beautiful magenta matching set that I mentioned above was an absolutely perfect accompaniment to a stunning vintage pink/gold/brown floral dress (pictured) and I decided to wear them to the Sydney Living Museum’s Fifties Fair in order to enter the very toughly judged best-dressed competition. As the judging is so thorough I knew I had to make my best effort but since the fair is held in the grounds of Rose Seidler House (a beautiful 1950s home, which is essentially ‘in the bush’) where the ground is very uneven, I knew I would also have to bring a pair of flats. Luckily, by some miracle I had a pair the same colour! I could not have walked around in my beautiful vintage heels all day, as I knew that for the terrain it would not be practical, but you also don’t have to compromise on style by wearing any old stand-in. I’ve actually started trying to buy flats in the same colours as my heels for this reason, and I really feel it makes a difference in my outfit confidence to know that if I need to wear flat shoes, or change into them, that my overall look will still be the same.

As modern, vintage loving ladies we have the privilege to be able to pick and mix which vintage and new elements we want in order to create our own personal look and maybe it isn’t even on your radar to match all your accessories together. Whatever your style, it is still important to think about those common sense shopping guidelines – when you will wear it, where you will wear it, what you will wear it with and does it help you “build your wardrobe?”

Lisa Harrison

Lisa Harrison

Lisa is the Deputy Editor of Vintage Life Magazine and Publisher at Dragoon Publishing. She is avid bookworm, collector of vintage homeware, loves travel, lazy weekends away and eats way too much cake!