I paid $2.99 for a battered copy of McCall’s magazine, July, 1938 issue, and definitely got my money’s worth just from this full color Kedettes advertisement on the inside back cover. “25 styles (6 for children) 22 color combinations. At the better stores — $1.65 to $2.50. Children’s lower.”
I’ll break the ad up into many smaller images with legible text size. In the background, there are black & white sketches of women boating, holding a tennis racquet, and walking a dog.
The first thing that caught my eye was the floral print open-toed shoe in the center, but then I became fascinated by the colorful striped soles on five of the shoes: so much more fun than many shoes I see today! Starting at top left of the page:
“Of course little girls adore their Kedettes moccasin oxfords — they’re just like mother’s and the soles are striped like stick candy. Made of whipcord twill and peachskin, they come all white; white with blue; and red, blue, or brown with white. They’re washable.”
The green shoes below are described as “subject to change” — they have removable flaps:
“Subject to change are Kedettes peachskin Swiss oxfords [above right]. Minus their removable flaps, they become trimly tailored bluchers and show off their perforated vamps. All white; white with blue, red, or green; and blue or brown with white. Thick, square-edged soles and wedge heels.”
This ghillie style was available in a wide range of colors and with a choice of heel heights: wedge (low) or college (this mid-heel). Several of the shoes pictured come in a range of color combinations and also with either low or mid-heels, which accounts for there being just eight illustrations for twenty-five styles. This ghillie was also available in white with blue or green trim; or brown, blue, or red with white trim, like the blue version pictured.
Near the top center of the ad was this simple white shoe:
In the middle of the page was this eye-catching summer shoe:
“Flowers on the feet for astonishing color accent, thanks to Kedettes printed open-toe oxfords, designed to dramatize the demure and dainty summer costume. Made of a fine mercerized broadcloth that’s easy to wash, they come with white, blue, or red binding. Cuban heels.” What fun! and you could coordinate the binding to a solid colored red, white, or blue dress.
A dashing shoe available in two different heel heights was this oxford for “spectator sports.”
Peachskin must have been a specific cloth used by Kedettes, since it appears often in shoes described as washable. “Perforations, stripes, and pipings join in triple accent on Kedettes peachskin oxfords for spectator sports. And being Kedettes, they wash beautifully. All white; white with blue or red; and blue or brown with white [like the illustration] in college and wedge heel models. White with green, wedge heels only.”
In other words, white with green had “wedge heels only” because it was this shoe, without the removable flap! (With the flap, it reminds me of a golf shoe, without spikes.)
These two shoes were shown at the lower left of the ad:
“Some wear them dark, some wear them light — Kedettes moccasin oxfords [above right] are summer favorites. All white; white with blue, green or red; and blue, brown or red with white in both college and wedge heel models. Green with white; brown with yellow; and red, white and blue — college heels only. Wedge heel models have candy striped soles. [At lower left:] Peachskin flaps, stitched to reflect candy striped soles, supply the big interest in Kedettes peasant tongue oxfords of whipcord twill…. Wedge heels. White with red or blue trim; blue with white trim. Washable.”
Kedettes shoes were made by the United States Rubber Company, as far back as 1916, according to The Vintage Traveler. (Lizzie, this post’s for you — I hope you find some of these for your collection!)
I wrote about a 1917 Keds ad — for a surprisingly modern looking flat with a bow on the toe — here.
You can see more vintage Kedettes ads at the Vintage Inn blog. Click here.
Shoe Prices 1938
Note: These attractive Kedettes were very reasonably priced, and I suspect that, being cloth shoes, most of them were worn out by their owners. (I.e., they’re they kind of everyday fashions not likely to show up in museums.) In 1936, several sources agreed that a young woman college graduate could expect to earn about $18 to $20 per week. The same 1938 McCall’s magazine that ran this Kedettes ad ran another, for Royal Baking Soda, that said, “You can’t afford baking failures when you’re raising a family on $25 a week.” (McCall’s, July 1938, page 54. )
Rivals to Kedettes
Summer sports shoes from the Sears catalog were even cheaper, and, in some cases, very similar — except that they were not described as washable, and styles and colors were far more limited:
The Sears descriptions for those shoes — half the price of Kedettes — usually say “crepe-like soles,” but this pair — very like Kedettes and priced comparably — have “crepe rubber soles and heel:”