Delson Dash Abouts – Late 1940s or Early 1950s

One thing that really makes the clothes and accessories of the years immediately following WWII is color.  During the war the limitations to fashion went way beyond rationing.  Because they were made from chemicals, many dyes were in short supply due to their usefulness in the war effort.

In the US, shoes were pretty much limited to six colors: black, three shades of brown, navy, and white.  Some writers have suggested that part of the limitation of colors might have been an effort to make shoes less desirable, and to make women less likely to want to buy the new shoes.  There may be some truth to that, and I might suggest that the styles were not exactly attractive either. They were sturdy and made to last.  Aesthetics were an afterthought.

But after the war ended, color exploded across fashion.  Some of the very best prints ever conceived were printed on post WWII rayons and silks.  Color didn’t end there, though, and shoes and handbags were also full of fantastic colors.

I found these super wedge shoes last weekend, and immediately fell in love with the color combination of purple, light yellow, and pale sky blue.  Just that little touch of blue turned these shoes into something really special.

The wedge hell was introduced by Ferragamo in 1936, and it remained a practical heel through the war years.  It allowed for easy walking, and the stability make wedges more comfortable than a conventional heel.

After the war ended, the wedge heel remained popular.  For the most part, it was used for more casual shoes or shoes for work.  Sandals often had wedge heels during the postwar period.

I spent an hour or two this afternoon researching when wedges were popular.  What that means is that I lost myself in copy after copy of magazines from the 1940s and early 50s.  Judging by the frequency of wedges featured in ads and editorial content, starting about 1952 the wedge heel started to lose popularity.  A devotee of the wedge could still find them in 1954, but the style was fast waning as the stiletto came on strong.

The brand is Delson Dash Abouts, a label I don’t remember ever seeing.  My search through my magazines did not produce an ad for the company either.  I did find a very few online references, the earliest being a newspaper ad in 1950.  There was also a note in a book on copyright holders that the label belonged to Bird & Son, Inc.  The last mention I’ve found was in a 1960s ad.

The Scottie on the label had absolutely nothing to do with the purchase of these shoes.

As I said, I did not turn up an ad for Delson Dash Abouts, but advertisements for colorful wedge shoes were common from 1946 through about 1952.  An example is this 1951 ad from Buskins.

14 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Shoes, World War II

14 responses to “Delson Dash Abouts – Late 1940s or Early 1950s

  1. I would gladly own any of these. Your shoe find is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t believe that remark about the Scottie for a minute!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to admit that the war era shoes are my favorite styles; I like an oxford, and there’s some clever work in them given the parameters of materials and shapes.
    That said, I would not turn those blue shoes down…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d wear them all! Thanks for sharing your research, Lizzie!

    Like

  5. So many great historical facts in this post! Would be interested now to see some WWII era shoes

    Like

  6. What a shoe! It’s so startling for the era, as it’s just not what the average person would think of! I simply adore the detailing and the colors!

    Like

  7. sdaven5191

    Based upon my own personal research, I have been under the impression that wedge-type heels that became so popular during the War years had a great deal to do with the extremely short supply of steel for any consumer goods, especially shoes. Steel shanks were used in pre-war shoes with regular raised heels as a supportive mechanism both for the foot – as in arch supports – and also to keep the shoes themselves from collapsing from the weight and walking action of the wearer! A shoe constructed of nothing but leather, with a raised heel, would have no chance of bearing up under the pressures created by the acts of either walking or standing, causing the whole shoe to give way, and requires something much stronger inside the arch to maintain its shape and function. The sudden lack of steel for the production of the supportive shanks in the shoes demanded a redesign to compensate. The shape of the wedge heel eliminates the need to use anything inside the shoe structure for support, and materials like solid wood carved wedges, or cork, or a combination of wood or cork covered by matching, coordinating or contrasting materials, or even paint or dyes, made them go with the shoes to which they were attached. Fabrics used for the shoe’s upper, and as a heel cover eliminated the need for those shoes to be part of rationing, as leather certainly required. This made “fashion shoes” fabricated of less durable materials more acceptable, as they would not be subjected to daily, or even semi-regular wear, so would last longer, and were cheap enough to be able to afford more than one pair to match or coordinate with dress-up wear.

    Rationed “practical shoes” made of sturdier leathers, and low stacked heels, also not requiring steel shanks, were constructed for durability, making them the choice for wear with dress-up and more “sensible” outfits, such as womens suits, and office wear, as well as heavier duty work shoes. Leather was not only used for the uppers of the shoes, but the soles as well. This also made them possible to be re-soled by the cobbler/shoe repair shop, greatly extending their usefulness. Half-soles, which take in the portion under the forefoot, and stopping at the arch, which never touches the ground and therefore doesn’t require replacement, were a very popular and more economical option, when the time came to replace just the worn portion, and also was an important way to keep the use of expensive leathers conserved.

    Men’s- and women’s heavy work boots were available, but strictly rationed, as they required much leather, as well as steel shanks to maintain their support and durability.

    If one was involved in heavy labor, requiring such footwear, such as lumberjacks/”jills”, telephone or electrical linemen, railroad workers, heavy assembly jobs in the defense industy, etc., a special extra ration coupon, allowing the purchase of additional leather footwear above and beyond the usual allowed annual limit could be had from one’s local ration board, providing you could supply the required proof of need. (I imagine providing the actual worn out footwear as a visual exhibit to the members of such a board would be adequate, as well as proof of employment in such an industry if you were personally unknown to the members of that group, would be adequate “proof of need!”)

    Like

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