The period between 1901—1910 is often called the Edwardian Era after Queen Victoria's successor, King Edward VII. Sophisticates of the day also referred to this time as the Belle Epoque, or "Beautiful Age," as there was a definite leaning toward classical aesthetics.

    Paris was the absolute mecca of the fashion world, Picasso was in his blue and pink periods, the Wright brothers were making aviation history, and San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake in 1906. Photography reached a heyday and the first narrative film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), was released.

Women aspired to the "Gibson Girl" beauty ideal, popularized by artist Charles Dana Gibson's pen-and-ink drawings of his young, beautiful wife, Irene. She was fresh and elegant, with a tiny waist and hair piled high. She also liked to bicycle, showing off an independent, thoroughly modern spirit. Never mind that the tiny waist required the most torturous corsets imaginable.

On the flip side, it is said that King Edward had a penchant for mature, buxom women. This led to a societal preference for older, curvaceous versions of beauty, including a love of gray and white hair.

Early in the decade, all the fussing with the top portion of the body also caused people to develop a preference for narrow feet, believed to be a sign of breeding and gentility. Both men and women regularly wore shoes that were a full size too small. Some women even opted to have their little toes removed to achieve narrower feet.

Day shoes were typically boots. Evening shoes were more diverse, with the popular style for women a court shoe with a small, Louis heel. These were often embellished with embroidery or metallic thread and glass or jet beading on the toes—often the only part peeking out from a voluminous skirt. Evening boots were often made from soft kid or satin, with rows of beaded straps embellishing the shin.

Cobblers still made a great deal of shoes during this period. Many people, especially men, often had just one pair that lasted for several years. As the industrial revolution reached a fever pitch, however, factories began to steadily gain over individual craftsmanship. Soon, only the very rich could afford custom-made shoes. On the other hand, factory-made shoes meant lower prices, and shoes became an accessory, something easy—and affordable—to change…

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