Women From the Ankle Down

The Story of Shoes And How They Define Us


by Rachelle Bergstein


The title and premise of this book are a little misleading. Or maybe my expectations were a little off. This was really a mini-history of shoes from the 20th century, beginning with the arrival of Salvatore Ferragamo on the scene and in America.   Bergstein chooses to tell this story mainly through the tales of some iconic shoes: Dorothy’s “ruby” slippers, stilettos (of course), Birkenstocks, Chuck Taylor’s, etc. 


While I did learn a few things (Ferragamo’s history was really interesting), this felt more like a collection of anecdotes, insider tales and Hollywood stories about shoes. And the chapter on 70’s shoes and platforms was mainly about men. Certainly not the book I was expecting, but a decent read nonetheless.

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