Let's talk about shoes?!?

NurseErin

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So I am gathering my supplies for the battle of Shiloh.. the only thing is that I don't have any period appropriate shoes! Where does everyone buy them? I know American Dutchess has some good ones but I'm not really able to spend $200 on a pair of shoes. Any recommendations on where to get the best value and most accurate shoes would be awesome!
 
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MaryDee

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Many recommend Fugawee. The #1 shoemaker, Robert Land, is out of business. Some suggest that a modern jodphur boot (one without zipper) is close enough. Compare a jodphur boot with the first item on the Fugawee site, and you'll see what I mean. You might find a similar model ankle high boot at a discount shoe store. If yours is a "lower working class" impression, and if you can wear men's shoes, a pair of brogans would work. Do make sure that, above all, the shoes fit comfortably, or you'll have a miserable weekend!

I haven't done much recent research on period-correct shoes because I cannot wear them. CW era shoes have a very low, tapered and narrow toe box, while my deformed feet require a wide and (especially) high toe box, considerable pronation control, and a very narrow heel. So I wear black leather oxfords (New Balance walking shoes) and go to considerable effort to keep them hidden under my skirts. If I were living back in the CW era, I'd probably be confined to the house wearing slippers.
 
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Most people in the hobby will recommend Missouri Boot & Shoe, while they do make a good shoe they start at $200. I actually like Fall Creek's brogans, most reenactors scoff at anything from Fall Creek, but they make their own brogans and they're the most comfortable ones I've tried.
 

NurseErin

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Many recommend Fugawee. The #1 shoemaker, Robert Land, is out of business. Some suggest that a modern jodphur boot (one without zipper) is close enough. Compare a jodphur boot with the first item on the Fugawee site, and you'll see what I mean. You might find a similar model ankle high boot at a discount shoe store. If yours is a "lower working class" impression, and if you can wear men's shoes, a pair of brogans would work. Do make sure that, above all, the shoes fit comfortably, or you'll have a miserable weekend!

I haven't done much recent research on period-correct shoes because I cannot wear them. CW era shoes have a very low, tapered and narrow toe box, while my deformed feet require a wide and (especially) high toe box, considerable pronation control, and a very narrow heel. So I wear black leather oxfords (New Balance walking shoes) and go to considerable effort to keep them hidden under my skirts. If I were living back in the CW era, I'd probably be confined to the house wearing slippers.

So I purchased the ones below as they were in my budget. I know the elastic isn't historically accurate but I plan on making gaitors to go over them. Do you think that will work?
 

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D.H. Hill

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Well since you've already bought them I guess gaiters would be the best way of hiding their inaccuracy...
I don't really know much about women's footwear, don't really know how common gaiters would have been for them. They weren't common for soldiers (in general) at least but then army clothing has different priorities in mind. I don't really see any other practical way of making them look better but I would suggest upgrading at some point.
In any case people shouldn't see much of your shoes all that often... I get the feeling reenactors tend to see way too much ankle these days as many women don't seem to know how to walk in long dresses without pulling them half way up to their knees... probably would have caused a riot back then.
 

MaryDee

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If you don't hike your skirts up too far (as @D.H. Hill says) or stick your feet out in front of you when sitting (very unladylike), you should be OK, if the elastic is the same color as the leather. You could try rubbing shoe polish (if the appropriate color) on the elastic. That's how I covered up the "New Balance" writing and logo on my black oxfords. I wouldn't bother with gaiters.

If the elastic is only on the inside of your foot, chances are it will never be noticed. Keep them hidden under your skirt. It appears that the shoes also do not have the period squared off toe, another reason for keeping them hidden as much as you can. With that caveat, you should be fine.
 
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James B White

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As far as I know, congress shoes, as I've heard these called for men, were perfectly accurate. {See below} The elastic itself may not be perfectly accurate--too stretchy, wrong weave, I dunno--but that's going to be almost impossible to upgrade, and what's most apt to be wrong will be things that would be found in any <$200 shoe. What looks odd to me are the leather (is that suede?) the shape of the sole (too wide at the arch), the kind of sole (that's not rubber instead of leather, is it?), the visible stitching on the top of the sole around the edges. I mean, the shoe is clearly wrong, but not because it's a congress gaiter.

Let me see if I can find an example of a period one. Well, here's never the way to judge what's accurate, but NJ Sekela is selling them and he's known for his accuracy. But you want to look at originals. http://www.njsekela.com/product_info.php?cPath=46&products_id=744

It looks like there's some talk about congress gaiters in this forum, especially if you do an edit-find to see what's on the very long page: http://www.thehcc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1054&start=25

Just don't see more info quickly, and I'm not sure how much it's worth it. I've seen them in political cartoons too, because stuff political types tended to wear them.

Note that the term "gaiter" has nothing to do with the gaiters that look like spats that reenactors use to cover up inaccurate shoes. I didn't know they were still doing that, honestly. But anyway, I agree that those shoes that you bought are inaccurate at a glance, but not because they have elastic on the side.

Oh, wait, you're female. --slaps forehead-- I didn't realize because congress gaiters were worn by both men and women. When I needed to dress up fancy, I'd sometimes borrow my wife's. Fugawee sells cheap but sorta authentic congress gaiters for women, or used to. Yeah, here, http://fugawee.com/civil war shoes.htm , about $129, plus shipping probably.

I have no idea if women wore gaiters, I mean the spats-type gaiters, not the shoes they called gaiters. Certainly they'd be smaller and more delicate than the big old things that soldiers wore.
 

NurseErin

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I would have suggested these high quality ladies shoes from NJ Sekela for $110 but you posted an image of a pair of men's brogans, creating confusion about what you were looking for.
View attachment 121624

Well since you've already bought them I guess gaiters would be the best way of hiding their inaccuracy...
I don't really know much about women's footwear, don't really know how common gaiters would have been for them. They weren't common for soldiers (in general) at least but then army clothing has different priorities in mind. I don't really see any other practical way of making them look better but I would suggest upgrading at some point.
In any case people shouldn't see much of your shoes all that often... I get the feeling reenactors tend to see way too much ankle these days as many women don't seem to know how to walk in long dresses without pulling them half way up to their knees... probably would have caused a riot back then.
The funny thing about the picture is that I didn't post it... a moderator edited my post and put that in there. I don't know why.


I did purchase the shoes that I posted but they were a really good deal and I figured if they were too inaccurate I would wear them normally anyways so no loss...

I was referring to spats when I mentioned gaitors I thought they were the same but apperently not lol!

Anyways thanks so much for all of the helpful posts! keep up with the suggestions and I'm going to continue to investigate.
 

NurseErin

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This was the photo off of the fugawee website under civil war women's shoes. This is what I based the second picture of shoes off of. The site stated that this would be appropriate for a working woman I.E. a nurse.

Anyways I am so thankful to have so many wonderfully helpful people to help me find the right pair. With so many different sources on the internet it is often difficult to discern whats accurate, what's close to accurate and what is just plain wrong! Eventually I will splurge and get a really nice pair but for right now I need something midrange.
 

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JPChurch

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Fugawee is in Florida IIRC. I have a pair of the men's stovepipe boots. They're really comfy. No break-in was needed with those. I also have a pair of the men's high over the ankle lace up boots for my Minuteman impression 1775. They're real nice too but were narrow and needed to be loosened up by soaking them with rubbing alcohol at their suggestion. They design everything and their products are made in Mexico. I ordered a pair of the ladies fancy dress shoes for a girlfriend of mine for the 150th Anniversary here in Manassas. The ladies shoes are narrow in width and as such can create for a tight fit. One shoe had its sole get loose up by the toe end after that one day. I returned them to Fugawee and they sent me back a new pair no charge in a different size. Customer service is great. The leather is very high quality. Check their website out.
 

James B White

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I was referring to spats when I mentioned gaitors I thought they were the same but apperently not lol!
I think one could tell from context, but yeah, it's confusing. There are the gaitors that are like shoes without soles, that go over the foot and up the ankle or lower calf a bit, buckle or lace or somehow fasten on the side, that zouaves and such wear, and that men wore in smaller versions as spats.

Then there are the shoes called gaiters, that as modern people we'd just look at them and say, yup, those are shoes. I don't enough about the origin of the word "gaiter/gaitor" to figure out why they were called that in the past, especially thr lady's shoes. Lady's shoes that come above the ankle seem to be called gaitors in the past, no idea why.
 

zburkett

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Question. I thought spats went around the ankle and gators were like leggings and went up higher with a strap under the arch to keep them in place. In other words, gators are functional and spats are decorative. Am I misinformed?
 

James B White

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Spats are short for spatterdashers, to keep mud from being dashed and sp(l)attered on your shoes. So I always assumed they were functional, just not as high as gaitors, but they might save you from getting your hands all gross when untying and retying shoelaces. Don't they also have a strap under the instep? They were most common a little later than the war, so I've never worn them.

Are these real 1920s? Genuine all wool what--cotton, or polyester? https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/91/98/0a/91980affb664a867171ac46ad2f6e648.jpg

God save us all from steampunk, which seems to have taken over that era, with a zillion examples of the look, having nothing to do with real clothes. :O o:

Charles Sumner wearing them, with Longfellow 1863 from here:

489px-Sumner-Longfellow_crop.jpg
 

Pavel

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View attachment 121568

So I am gathering my supplies for the battle of Shiloh.. the only thing is that I don't have any period appropriate shoes! Where does everyone buy them? I know American Dutchess has some good ones but I'm not really able to spend $200 on a pair of shoes. Any recommendations on where to get the best value and most accurate shoes would be awesome!
What kind of shoes you are interested in?
 

SophiaJonson

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Jan 25, 2019
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I really like these shoes! It is simple in design, yes, but made of leather and stylish. One has only to recall how the image of a man looked earlier! What style, elegance, costumes sat superbly. Now we are all in sneakers, in something simple just to be quick. But of course there are also advantages in this, for example, convenience. I recently prefer such styles as Areni 1 brand footwear https://areni1.store/
but I dream one day to go completely to the costumes and the image in the style of "Peaky Blinders"
 

Mrs. V

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May 5, 2017
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Well, I understand that elastic was a known entity at the time, and it was used in womens shoes..there’s a patent out there to prove it...I bought a pair of fugawee boots and I wore them two days straight, and didn’t want to gnaw my foot off..so there is that!
 


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