What your shoes say about you

An Eaton’s ad for shoes from the 1920s. - Maple Ridge Museum
An Eaton’s ad for shoes from the 1920s.
— image credit: Maple Ridge Museum

Studies have proven that what you put on your feet can say a great deal about your personality, as well as your economical demographics.

You may choose your footwear based on practical purposes, but that choice also sends symbolic messages.

The upcoming exhibition at the Maple Ridge Museum, "All About Footwear," will look at these messages and showcase our growing shoe collection, starting in February and running until summer.

Shoes of today are actually adaptions from centuries past. The sandal – perhaps the oldest foot covering known to us, is still being adapted in various forms.

We think of high-heeled shoes as a fashion statement, but centuries ago they were used for a more practical reason: to keep feet off dirty streets. From basic construction and design, to the materials used, our most recognizable footwear has roots in the past.

One of the more fascinating aspects of footwear is the cultural overlap, even from thousands of years ago, when communication between nations would not have been possible, yet our ideas of how to cover the foot were similar.

The Japanese balanced on high-soled wooden shoes, and that shape was similar to what people were wearing in other parts of the world, such as Italy. Although there would have been no contact, the basic idea was the same.

The Chinese practice of foot binding was loosely copied in western culture. Men and women bound their feet with tape to fit them in shoes that were too tight.

The Maple Ridge Museum has a unique collection of footwear, from infant shoes to early 20th women's ankle- and knee-high leather boots to crocheted slippers, to the more modern styles.

The exhibit will also look at footwear accessories, and other types of winter shoes, including early forms of hockey skates to snowshoes.

From our archives, newspaper advertisements from Osborne Shoes in Haney illustrate that the average price for a women's shoe in the 1920s was around $2.85 (approximately $35 today).

A price list from the Eaton's catalogue from the same decade, shows "Shoes For Wee Feet" from 75 cents, which would have been just under $10 today.

The museum is looking for additions to our footwear collection, specifically dress shoes.

• Please contact the museum at 604-463-5311 for more details.

Val Patenaude is executive director of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Community Events, March 2017

Add an Event