Monday, 11 April 2016

About Vintage Wooden Shoes

I can't believe it's already April, and it's so long since my last post. I had a bit a rough time, I was sick for the first time in the colder season in October, and it didn't stop until some days ago - I was constantly more or less sick, coughing, sneezing, soar throat, running nose... To be honest, I feel so sick and tired like probably never before in my life. But now, spring is here, and I can't wait to enjoy the warmer days outdoors - even if there is a lot of garden work involved.

Ich kann es kaum fassen, schon ist es April, und mein letzter Post liegt Monate zurück. Ich habe nicht die beste Zeit hinter mir. Die kalte Jahreszeit startete mit einer Grippe im Oktober, und danach wurde ich eigentlich nie ganz richtig gesund bis vor wenigen Tagen. Ich war regelmässig mehr oder minder krank, mit Husten, laufender Nase, Halsschmerzen... Ich bin so ausgelaugt wie wohl noch nie in meinem Leben. Doch nun ist der Frühling da, und damit die Zeit wo man wieder wärmere Tage draussen verbringen kann - auch wenn das bei mir stets mit Gartenarbeit verbunden ist.

Now it's also the time to take out your summer shoes. What do you usually wear with your skirts and dresses these months?

I must admit I love my Swedish clogs, usually sandals. First I was afraid the wooden soles would be uncomfortable, but quite contrary I was  able to wear them for several hours without problems. I even can run after the kids!
Wooden shoes have a long history, not only in Sweden, where they are part of traditional clothing, but back in history wood was always used for shoes. My mom told me that during and after the war, due to rationing, people used wood and cork on shoes, as leather was short. When I began wearing vintage style clothing, I remembered what my mom had told me, and I saw many fellow vintage lovers wearing clog sandals.

Nun nimmt man auch wieder die Sommerschuhe hervor. Was tragt Ihr denn so in den wärmeren Monaten?

Ich muss sagen, ich liebe vor allem meine schwedischen Sandalen mit Holzsohle. Zuerst hatte ich Bedenken, sie könnten unbequem sein, aber ich trage sie während vieler Stunden und meistere auch längere Märsche ohne Probleme. Ich kann sogar den Kindern nachspringen damit!
Holzschuhe oder zumindest -sohlen haben ja eine lange Geschichte. Vermutlich fast so alt wie Schuhe selbst, waren Holzsohlen v.a. in raueren Klimen eine günstige und praktische Variante für festeres Schuhwerk. Meine Mutter erzählte mir, dass während und nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg wegen der Verknappung und Rationierung der Rohstoffe die Sohlen der Schuhe oft aus Holz und Kork gemacht wurden. Als ich dann begann, Vintage zu tragen, erinnerte ich mich daran, und ich sah dass auch andere Vintage-Liebhaberinnen Clogs trugen.

As a historian I was very curious to find out more about 1940s shoes with wooden or cork soles, and I was surprised to find so many lovely designs, even by high-end brands like Bally. This kind of shoe-making never really got out of fashion, wooden soles were very common with boho style shoes in the 70s, and they are fashionable today as well. Sadly the soles of most brands look the same, and there's not very much sense for different designs as during the 1940s.

Ganz die Historikerin wollte ich natürlich mehr wissen über die Schuhe aus dieser Ära, und ich war überrascht wie viele sehr schöne, teilweise ungewohnte und fast avantgardistisch anmutende Modelle, auch von "Nobel"-Marken wie Bally, angeboten wurden. Diese Art der Schuhherstellung - Holz kombiniert mit Leder oder Textilien - kam nie ganz aus der Mode, erlebte einen weiteren Höhepunkt mit den Holzschuhen im Boho-Stil der 70er Jahre und ist heute noch immer aktuell. Schade nur dass die heutigen Clogs sehr uniforme Sohlen haben und die Hersteller weitaus weniger experimentierfreudig scheinen als in den 40er Jahren.

Cork and wood sole on top and bottom.

Rationing did not apply to those shoes made from wood and cotton trims.

The clog sandals on the left look exactly like today's ones.
Some of these ladies are wearing shoes made from wood or cork with what seem to be braided textile strips.

Uncommon wooden shoe shoes in Paris during WW2 occupation.

Another unusual pair of wooden shoe soles.
A 1942 Ferragamo shoe made from cork and yarn, maybe raffia.

1940s shoes from carved wood and embroidered trims.

WW2 shoes: wooden soles and textile material.

This 1940s shoe looks remarkably like a Swedish traditional painted clog.

Rare example of a lady's loafer with a wooden sole.

Shoe-makers in occupied France during WW2. Look at the various styles on the top picture!

Spring shoe fashion featuring cork soled shoes for the ladies.

Bally shoes with flexible wooden soles for extra comfort.

Colourful "wooden-soled fun shoes" advertised as being "not rationed".

Honestly, I would take all those shoes in a heartbeat.

Ich würde ehrlich gesagt jeden dieser Schuhe sofort nehmen!


  1. It's so nice to read something from you again :) I love those clogs I have two pairs of Swedish Hasbeens and can't wait to wear them again!

    1. I love the Hasbeens too, but I sadly have to say they are a bit beyond my budget. I bought some from Moheda, which are more affordable, however, their colour range is not as gorgeous. I can't wait to wear them too! They are so comfortable!

  2. So nice to have you back! I hope you are feeling better :)
    I love this post, wooden shoes are great, and I was instantly reminded of having those traditional wooden clogs as a child. Growing up in Norway, we were heavily influenced by swedish shoe-fashion. I think most all of our clogs came from Sweden. I almost bought a pair last summer, but they don't fit like they used to. Everything was more thoughtfully made back in the day.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! :)
      As a child, I used to have those Sweish clogs, not sandals, but still, I used to ear them until the rubber sole was off and they basically started to fall apart. I also had the traditional wooden clogs from Ticino, this is the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. We spent sometimes our holidays there, and from time to time my parents would buy me a pair of those clogs called "zoccoli" (they are part of the traditional costume of that region). They had a leather strap in blue and red and the wooden sole had heat-embossed and painted flowers on them. They were so beautiful.
      I guess the fit of those shoes depend a lot form the brand. I know there must be many more clog makers in Sweden that sell also in/to Norway, and maybe, if you have the opportunity to try some (or even travel there), you will find a maker that suits you. I use to wear mine for hours, even on Italy where the pavement is very uneven (the ancient Romans made better streets...), and I didn't have soar feet or blisters.
      But I totally agree, many things were of a far better quality back in our childhood than nowadays.

  3. Sweet Doris, I'm sincerely sorry to hear that you were feeling so very rough throughout the colder month. They really did a number on me at times, too, and I'm also so grateful that spring's here again. It's amazing how much better I feel now - not just physically, but also mentally (as in happier/more productive). Fingers crossed that we're both able to enjoy a really positive spring and summer.

    This was such a fun, fabulous post and look at a super classic form of footwear. We're getting warm enough weather here now to sport open toed shoes and can't help but feel a twinge of giddiness each time I slip a pair on. It feels like a hundred years have passed since the last time I did so!

    Sending tons of hugs & joyful May wishes your way!
    ♥ Jessica

  4. Thank you for this lovely post. It looks like wooden clogs have been a part of the fashion heritage for more then anyone can think. The Swedish Wooden clogs have an immense legacy attached to them and still look very much in style.


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