Here are some tips on picking up a vintage pair that no-one else will have! When we refer to vintage shoes we are talking about shoes that are at least 30 years old. Anything else is considered pre-loved or second hand.
Why choose vintage shoes?
One of the main reasons people purchase vintage shoes is because the design is quite often very different to modern shoes. More often than not they are made of leather and generally the older the shoe the more likely it has been hand made. These days many of us have shoes to go with every outfit but in the past most people looked at quality over quantity but this also means those shoes may have been worn much more often. That does not necessarily mean they have been worn out.
Finally, the price point for the quality is usually pretty amazing!
What to look for and what to avoid
Always keep in mind that if an item has not been stored correctly it can be damaged. Look closely at the quality of the leather, make sure the glue has not become brittle, check the stitching, heel and undercarriage of the shoe. If a heel has been worn down to the bone it may be difficult to replace because heel styles have changed over time.
How to clean and care for your vintage shoes
Outside - Cleaning the outside of your shoes will depend on the materials ie; leather, suede, fabric. Leather and suede treatments can be easily found at shoe shops / bag or leather stores or Mr Minute. Fabric cleaning will depend on what sort of fabric it is and what sort of coloring / patterns it may have so do your homework!
Inside - Clean the inside of the shoes with a mixture of 1 part tea tree oil to 4 parts water. Dip a soft cleaning cloth into this solution and wipe through the shoe inner area, over the sole. Inner soles can also be purchased or you can have them professionally relined at shoemakers.
I've heard it said that shoes sizes have not dramatically changed over the years however my personal experience has been different. I recommend measuring your foot. This is the pencil and paper method http://www.palmershoes.com/gpage.html .
Alternatively you could go to a good shoe store and have your foot measured on The Brannock Device. Keep in mind that older shoes were made in different widths and leather can be stretched somehwat.
If all else fails you can always opt for great reproductions! http://www.remixvintageshoes.com/
R&M @ GoS