Saturday, April 2, 2011

Men's Shoes for Dancing

I love this piece of sheet music.  Even a hippopotamus wants to look his best on the dance floor. He is wearing a tailcoat, black trousers, white vest and, I presume, a white cravat. The most appropriate men's outfit for a mid-nineteenth century ball is a tailcoat. (It is called a dress coat in period.)

Check out his wonderful shoes with the squared off and chisel-like toes. Radestock gives this advice: Light shoes or boots are highly essential to light and graceful movements, and particular attention should be given to the heels, that they are not too high, but they would be better almost without heels; hand-sewn boots preferable to pegged or rivetted ones. (Rudolph Radestock, The royal ball-room guide and etiquette of the drawing room, London, Walker, [1877] p. 20.)

We recommend that men wear lightweight shoes with leather soles in the ballroom. Sneakers have obvious problems fitting in with the historical look, but they also grip the floor in a way that is very dangerous to your joints. Probably the best choice is to buy jazz oxfords from a dance store. They don't match the style of nineteenth century shoes, but they are perfectly unobtrusive.

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