Last week The Vintage Traveler reminded me that shoe illustrations, being fashion illustrations, are not always truthful. As a vintage buyer and dealer, she observed that real 1920’s shoes generally do not have super-high heels. That sent me to the ever-useful Sears Roebuck catalogs at Ancestry.com. And that is where I was distracted by these “Whoopee Booties” from 1929.
And before discussing heel height, I want to recommend one of the best articles on “Flappers” that I’ve ever seen; the Silent Film site Silent-ology devoted the month of March 2018 to Flappers and wrote this brilliant essay to set the theme. Click here for The History (and Mythology) of 1920s Flapper Culture.
And Now, Back to Heel Heights from 1929
Sears did offer one pair of 4 inch heels:
Women from the twenties (like my mother and my aunt) were proud of having small feet (or, more precisely, of wearing small shoe sizes, which is not quite the same thing….) It’s interesting that in 1929 “smaller feet,” not “longer legs,” was the selling point for higher heels.
But, as The Vintage Traveler predicted, in most of these ads showing high heels, the heel height — even when described as “spike heels” — is two and a half inches.
Ditto for The Parisian:
And, to return to those youthful Whoopee Booties, they have a 1 and 3/4 inch “military” heel.
Another sunny honeymoon,
For making whoopee.”“The chorus sings, “Here comes the bride.”
Another victim is by her side.
He’s lost his reason cause it’s the season
For making whoopee.”
“Another year or maybe less
What’s this I hear?
Well, can’t you guess?
She feels neglected so he’s suspected
Of making whoopee.”
“She sits alone most every night.
He doesn’t phone or even write.
He says he’s busy.
But she says, “Is he?”
He’s making whoopee.”
The song ends in the divorce court, where the judge says,
“You better keep her.
You’ll find it’s cheaper
Than making whoopee.”
You can see Eddie Cantor perform his 1928 stage hit song, “Makin’ Whoopee” in this movie clip from the 1930 color (!) film musical Whoopee!
Co-produced by Florenz Ziegfeld (Jr.) and Samuel Goldwyn, this film is as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a Ziegfeld show — with musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. Set “out west,” the film quality is poor, the plot is silly, but the costumes are fabulous — if you can stand dozens of half-dressed women of European ancestry wearing enormous feather headdresses, and Eddie Cantor wearing blackface….(truly nauseating.) If you’re designing a revival of Will Rogers Follies, it’s a must-watch bit of research. Besides, tap-dancing cowboys!