It's rather difficult to find reproduction early 18th century men's shoes as it's not a very popular era, and I haven't got the money for them right now anyways, so I have altered this pair to be a tolerable substitute!
I have some nice late 18th century shoes, but early ones are a totally different shape, and I wanted something closer to that to wear with my 1730's suit. And the 1720's suit I mean to eventually make. (Neal Hurst has an hour long video on 18th century men's footwear if anyone's really interested in learning about all the details of shoes and how they changed over the century.)
My late 18th century shoes have very rounded toes and big buckles, but early ones usually have small buckles, and tend to be chunky looking. Big chunky heels and weird square toes.
|Portrait of unknown gentleman (detail). Wikipedia says it's c. 1737, |
but his outfit looks earlier than that.
I started with a pair of shabby old leather thrift store shoes with somewhat square toes.
I... actually originally started with a different pair of shoes, but my first attempt failed so badly that it destroyed them. They were an even shabbier pair, with slightly squarer toes, and I made the mistake of taking the sole off. Bad idea! Do not do that if you are attempting to cover a pair of masculine shoes!
The reason I did it was because the only blog posts I could find on altering shoes to look 18th century were about high heeled shoes, and all those ones involve peeling off the sole and then glueing it back on at the end.
But it turns out that different styles of shoes are constructed differently! Those high heeled shoes have a lot of structure and then a thin sole stuck on the bottom, but separating the top from the sole on my shoes left me with a floppy leather shoe top that it was impossible to stretch material over.
But it was ok, I'd worn them a lot and they were in considerably worse shape than this pair, and when I took them apart I even found that the shanks were rusty and one had broken.
Fortunately I had two pairs of scruffy old shoes, and I was more careful with the second one. I started by cutting a bit off the end of the toe and glueing a little scrap of davey board (the dense cardboard you use for covers in bookbinding) to the front. I cut it into the rounded shape you see on early 18th century shoe toes. I also cut a bit off the front of the sole, to make it flatter.
|For glue I just used a tube of some adhesive called "amazing goop"|
but perhaps it would have been better to get Shoe Goo, since that's meant for shoes.
|Shoes almost ready to cover.|
(A different one from the bad and weak leather I made my first pair of gloves out of! This leather seems much more sturdy.)
breeches buckles to them. (Which, if we're being very picky, are a bit different from shoe buckles in how they attach, but nobody will see that part when it's hidden under the latchet.)