In the 1930s, as less of the leg became visible, sheer stockings were the dominant fashion. This issue of Ladies’ Home Journal from October, 1936, contained much fashion advice about wardrobe planning. Women were advised to select their winter coat first, and then to think about shoes.
“This year, . . . instead of just being a good supporting cast, they are stepping right out to the front of the stage and becoming principals. It happens this year, because shoes are usually made of contrasting colors, or at least contrasting leathers that take different lights. One of the colors in your shoes may match your coat. The other may set the color scheme for your dress — your other accessories — your hat. The only exception is all black suede . . . .
“Shoes mostly creep higher and higher up in the instep. If there are straps, there may be several quite close together, or one placed quite low over the arch — you find few wide-open spaces.
“After your shoe selection should come your dresses.” — “Now It’s Time to Get Your Wardrobe Together,” by Julia Coburn, Ladies’ Home Journal, p. 29, Oct. 1936.
The article “Stockings and Shoes Have New Color Harmony” appeared in the same issue. These shoe and stocking combinations appeared at the top of the page . . .
. . . and these appeared at the bottom, with descriptive text in the middle.
Starting from top left:
“On the left above, worn with a coat of black rough wool, is a monk type shoe of black and cinnamon brown reverse calf, the stocking matching the brown and completing the contrast. Just behind is a splendid simple oxford of brown suede, trimmed with reddish brown calf, the exact color of the hairy tweed of the suit. The same color is chosen for the stockings.”
“The grand dark blue-green that is so smart this fall somehow suggests combination with brown. So, for a brown wool suit, we selected the green service calf high-in-front shoe, with buttons and trimming of alligator calf. The stockings are a deep reddish brown, just a shade lighter. With the wine-colored skirt we show a monk shoe with a slightly higher heel, in a fairly dark gray reverse calf, with gun-metal calf. The stocking is a pinkish gray which takes on an even warmer tone over the skin. The three-strap oxford in tan calf, [far right] with stockings in a lighter tan shade, is suggested for a coat of green curly-surfaced wool. Can you see what a difference the right shades of shoes and stockings make?” [I’m having a hard time figuring out why the three-strap shoe is called an “oxford.”]
“Attending a tea party below are some shoes for afternoon silks and dressier suits.” Starting from the left:
[Left:] “A wine gabardine pump, trimmed with kid, is worn with a matching crepe dress. The little whirligig ornament can be turned to tighten or loosen the instep. The gray stockings have enough pink to harmonize with the shoes. [Center:] With a black rough crepe dress, next, we suggest a high-in-front one eyelet tie, piped in silver. A warm, bright, tan stocking for contrast. [Right:] The black-suede-and-patent two-strap might go with a fuschia-red crepe dress, in which case it might have gun-metal gray stockings, very sheer.” [This is the darkest stocking mentioned in this 1936 article. Women with thick ankles and calves generally look best in stockings matched to their shoes, but the strong matches of the 1920’s seem to be a thing of the past.]
[Far Left:] “The brown step-in pump, worn with a soft green dress . . . is calf combined with suede, gored to fit high over the arch. The stocking is a lighter brown, still on the reddish cast. [Center:] Dress shoes in darkest gray are very nice. We show them with a royal-blue dress, and gray stockings a little lighter and a little pinker. [Right:] The one-eyelet tongue ties at the right hand corner, worn with a red-brown dress, show the combination of red-brown suede with brown kid.”
“From hemline to heels, you have a chance to show the utmost discrimination in your use of color harmonies and color contrasts.”
Stockings came with either pointed or rectangular heels, as in the nineteen twenties.
Enna Jettticks Ad, October 1936
This full color advertisement for Enna Jetticks (not a real person’s name, but “energetic” — a little branding joke) shows some shoes in gorgeous colors. It’s from the same copy of the Ladies’ Home Journal. The image of a chic young woman is a way of persuading women that Enna Jetticks are not “old lady shoes.“
“. . . Shoes so comfortable that they require no difficult breaking in. For Enna Jetticks, you know, are designed for ease in the first place, and then they are thoroughly-hand flexed by master craftsmen before you ever try them on.”
“Sizes 1 to 12 and widths AAAAA to EEE. $5 and $6. Slightly higher in Canada.”
One Dress, Three Shoe Options
In December, the Woman’s Home Companion showed three different accessory choices for one claret colored dress, made from Companion-Butterick pattern 7115.
Black suede is shown on the model, but gray or dark brown shoes, bags, and gloves will provide “variety.”
Both the Ladies’ Home Journal and the Woman’s Home Companion agreed that, with a wine-colored dress, black suede or dark gray shoes were appropriate.
For examples and illustrations of shoe styles such as “monk,” “sandal,” and “oxford” in the 1930’s, click here. Then scroll down for a vintage article defining styles.
8 responses to “Shoes and Stockings, 1936”
In 1974 I bought a pair of black suede oxfords very much like the brown ones above, made by the Red Cross shoe co. Had a lower heel, slightly, and I wore them day in and out for a couple of years. WOW what a great shoe! Nice look with the maxis and wide leg pants of the era, and suited my hippie glasses and bun esthetic perfectly. I can see why these styles were so popular –nice almond toe, sturdy but shapely heel, and the ties made them adjustable. Some day I will buy Am Duchess ones — the Claremont, I think. Sooo cute. My old RC ones were 15 bucks at a thrift store, I think.
Thanks for the post, and the stocking review too. Great stuff for us costume obsessed folks,
They must have been great with trousers. (Enough heel to look good and to walk on!) And thank you for a new vocabulary phrase: “Almond toe.” I never had the legs for these styles, but I think the Gabardine pump with the adjustable “Whirligig” ornament is my favorite, just as “art.”
I love these shoes! Lets bring them back. Attractive shape, heels not too high, fabulous colors.
A little off topic, but what about all those size choices. Truly amazing!
I remember when a pair of dress shoes had two sizes — heel and toe box. You could buy a 7B shoe with a double (AA) heel or AAA heel. Shoe stores must have had a huge inventory room (perhaps with fewer styles in more sizes.) Size B pumps wouldn’t stay on my heel, so, when they stopped offering AA heels, I was stuck wearing sling-back pumps with elasticized heel straps. I don’t think I ever saw pair of Ferragamos in a thrift store that weren’t AA or AAA.
Oh I remember those AAA days too! My mom had Ferragamos with 4-A heels! Talk about NARROW. I can put them on now, but I have to soak my feet in ice water for a half hour first… Just kidding. But period shoes are just the best. You could probably wear those styles with a matching stocking color, an idea I didn’t know they got into back then!
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