Sole Obsession

100 years of women’s shoes from kitten heels to power pumps

Step into the White River Valley Museum’s newest exhibit, Sole Obsession: 100 Years of Women’s Shoes from Kitten Heels to Power Pumps, opening June 18. Sole Obsession presents a range of dressy footwear, spanning from 1910 to 2010, and reflects on the dramatic changes experienced by the women who wore them. Over 100 pairs of shoes from regional museums and private collections will be displayed with examples of women’s cocktail and party apparel from the museum’s collection.

Historic clothing aficionado Christine Palmer curated the exhibit, calling upon her connections to vintage fashion collectors throughout the region. “Shoes have been a particular passion of mine, as their styles can be powerful, seductive or fanciful, depending upon the era, materials and designer.”

Today most American women own at least 19 pairs of shoes, some secretly, although they wear only about four pairs regularly. About 15 percent of American women have over 30 pairs of shoes. Over her working life, the American woman will own about 188 pairs of shoes.

When she looks at a pair of vintage shoes, a woman is also looking at a piece of someone’s past. A newly acquired pair of vintage shoes allows a woman to build a special look, makes her feel like an accomplished collector and whets her appetite for more. The most expensive pair of vintage shoes cost $655,000 at auction— a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers used in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

Puget Sounders enjoyed past historic apparel exhibits of women’s undergarments, hats and swimwear. Consequently, the staff at White River Valley Museum has considered a women’s shoe exhibit for some time and is now proud to present this dazzling assemblage. Palmer says that the exhibit Sole Obsession reveals that throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, women of all sizes and ages have relished wearing attractive shoes.

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