You might wonder how I store the vast number of shoes in my collection?
This is constantly evolving. I have some shoes, flats, mules, ballets and slipper types, stored in traditional hanging shoe bags on the backs of my closet doors. I have the shoes I wear often stacked in shoe boxes or standing, ready to wear, in neat rows on the floors of my closet. Special shoes that I do not use often are stored in either their original shoe boxes neatly stacked according to maker and designer or color or style, or in the cases of shoes that do not have their original boxes, stored in new shoe boxes all the same size and color carefully labeled on both the top and one end of the box.I have a closet under a stairway in my house that is pretty big so all these shoe boxes are stored stacked in it. It is still roomy enough to get in there to get them out! I do not want to acquire so many that I cannot get at them! For this reason I am editing constantly. I decide to weed out some shoes for one reason or another. It is hard. They are all beautiful. Right now I have about 10 pairs for sale in my Etsy vintage store. They are great, just don’t go with my collection. When you collect you have to be very serious and have discipline. You cannot keep everything!
Because I am currently attempting to photo document all the shoes in my collection I am also going through all of them and repacking them carefully to be sure I have them properly stored. Some old and delicate shoes require me to keep them in archival cloth wrapping rather than tissue paper. I use old scarves for this purpose or pieces of clean cotton cloth cut into squares or rectangles with pinking sheers. I pre-wash the cotton fabric before cutting it into wrapping size pieces to remove any chemicals that could adversely effect the shoes.
Archival storage boxes should be used for very old and delicate shoes. I am in the process of researching the best source of such boxes now.
Shoes in boxes take up more room than they do without boxes. However it is important not to let the shoes knock against each other or get scratched or squashed. Shoes are actually quite delicate and require special handling. When moving large numbers of shoes I have packed them, all in their individual boxes, into large moving boxes. That seems to be the best way to do it so that every surface is protected.
Someone asked me recently if I had those gigantic fancy closets that you see in celebrity homes in magazines with rows and rows of shoes lined up on custom built shelves. The answer is no! I do not! I cannot afford to build such closets in terms of space or financial cost. I also should caution people about storing shoes that way because they are exposed to both light and dust. It is best to keep them covered and stored in darkness in their boxes so that light does not deteriorate the colors or fabric or leather surfaces.
Take good care of your vintage shoes! Think of keeping each special pair of shoes wrapped up in its little blanket carefully tucked into its own little box sleeping peacefully until you are ready to use it again.
Another important point is keeping your vintage shoes clean and dry. After wearing a pair clean it off if necessary, then let it air out completely for a day before putting it away. This way it should last many more decades. Of course, when I acquire a new pair of old shoes I clean them up if necessary and take them to my shoe repair shop if they need any repairs or renovations. Most of them do need cleaning and work when I receive them.
I wear a lot of my shoes. Carefully! I do not wear them out if it is raining, or to walk in tall wet grass for instance! I am cautious about what I expose them to and often carry an extra pair of less special shoes with me if I need to switch into them. I do not wear the oldest ones if they are in danger of falling apart. But, for the most part, I have found that aware wearing of the shoes seems to be good for them. After all they were made to be worn and enjoyed. And I certainly enjoy them!
With proper restoration and care vintage shoes you acquire and collect should last a long time.
The shoes in the photo are a small sampling of my vintage alligator shoe collection. All of them will be discussed and shown in detail in future posts.
Photo by Fredrich Lehrman, styled by Violette de Courcy.
Shoes from the Lady Violette de Courcy Shoe Collection