Buying Your Shoes
( Originally Published 1924 )
It is always of interest and very often of real value to know the derivation and construction of fabrics which are used in the familiar, every-day parts of our costumes, such as shoes, and gloves. To tabulate them by name and in a brief space to give information concerning them may be of profit to the one who buys.
A wide variety of leathers are used.
Buckskin, made from the deer, but having many imitations, looks like suède but is more durable, because the hide is polished on the grain rather than on the flesh side.
Bronze shoes are made from leather and are colored with a dye which gives a metallic luster. Because this leather is affected by water and rubbing, it is not practical for every-day wear.
An imitation of kid is called Cabaretta. It is obtained from the hair sheep.
Calfskin comes in different weights, wears well, and is most practical. It does not stretch easily nor scuff, and is almost waterproof. Dull calf is not glazed on the hair side and has a wax finish on the flesh side. French calf, which also has a wax finish, is very high-grade leather. Mat calf has a dull finish and is used for the tops of shoes. A beating of the leather with a board brings out the grain, as in box calf. Willow is box calf in colors. Russian calf has a peculiar odor due to the birch oil which is used in the dressing; the leather is usually brown or tan. Ooze leather appears like suède because of its finish. Varnished or patent calf is not guaranteed because of the uncertainty of the appearance of cracks ; this leather is affected by very cold weather.
Colt skin is derived not only from the colt but also from the horse. This leather, if varnished, is more satisfactory than any other varnished leather.
Cordovan, the strongest horsehide, is very dur-able because of its firmness and solidity. The leather, which is reddish brown in color, holds a high polish indefinitely. It is best suited for men's shoes.
Cowhide is sometimes fittingly called "side leather." Because of its strength and durability and inexpensiveness, it is used for sturdy practical footwear which does not need a high polish.
Kangaroo leather would be used more were it more plentiful, for it has the attractions of resiliency as well as durable close texture.
Kid is a boon to tender feet which require softness and coolness in shoes. However, because of this softness, the shoes made from it lose their shape and are easily scuffed. French is the best kid and is used for dressy shoes. Glazed kid is light in weight, bends easily, and is employed in making gymnasium shoes, house slippers, and shoes for corrective use. Mat kid, because of its dull waxy finish, absorbs dust. Patent kid is another varnished leather.
Suède is made by a unique process from kid or calfskin or cowhide.
Fabrics are also used for making shoes that are suitable for dress wear. Satin may be had in various costume-matching colors. Gold and silver cloth are effective materials for formal evening slippers. Velvet, altho rich looking, is unsatisfactory because of its proclivity to collect dust. Can-vas is cool for summer shoes, and can easily be kept clean.
Shoes are manufactured with three kinds of soles, two named after the men who introduced them. In the welt sole, there are no tacks, stitching, or rough seams evident on the inside of the shoe; and from the outside, the stitches show that the welt starts on the heel. It is possible to remove the whole outer sole of this shoe without interfering with the insole, so that a new sole sewed to the welt makes a shoe as good as new if the uppers are not worn. Boys' shoes may be resoled three times, and thus give triple service. A bottom filling of cement and cork between the insole and the outsole insures against squeaking.
Another kind of stitched sole is sewn through the insole as detected by turning back the lining of the shoe. This is less expensive in making than the welt sole, so better materials can be used and the shoe be no higher in price than the one which re-quires a longer process. A heavy insole will protect the foot from the rough stitches. This sole is not repaired as satisfactorily as the welt.
The turned sole is what the name implies; hence, only soft, flexible materials may be employed, such as those used for evening slippers or indoor slip-pers.
Heels are at least five in number of styles. Louis XV, or French, is the highest. The heel is curved and cut until its lower surface covers a square inch of area. The Baby Louis is lower. The Cuban heel is not cut out, as is the French, and it may be higher or lower. The Military heel has a straighter back line and a larger surface than the Cuban. The common-sense heel is low and flat. The spring heel, commonly used for children's and tennis shoes, has a flat sole continuing over the whole foot and raised at the heel by an inserted piece of leather.
Wooden heels which are covered with fabric or thin leather are cheaper to make than leather heels. The top lift is made of leather to increase the wearing quality and should never be permitted to wear down to the covered area, for repairing is then difficult.
One should get certain qualities with high-priced shoes. If a shoe remains on the last over which it is made—it should be ten days—it will keep itS shape better than the shoe which is hurriedly made. The length of time used necessarily increases the price of the shoe.
A good shoe looks well-made inside as well as outside. Wrinkles in the lining are absent; there are no rough edges on the sole; the stitching is fine and even; there are more stitches to the inch, and silk thread is used; there are inside as well as outside backstays ; and the stitching goes through the lining, which helps to keep the lining from wrinkling.
Good leather is not cracked or scratched, is finely grained, close fibered, and perfectly matched, so that every part of the shoe has the same grain and finish. The linings should be very noticeably of a higher grade—the fabric lining the upper and that over the sole, the extra pad of the heel, the lining of the tongue, the facing, and the stays. The eye-lets should not wear brassy. Exclusive cut and style add to the price,