The Shoe Collection of Harry S. Truman
In the past we discussed Harry S. Truman’s suits and today, in collaboration with the Harry S Truman NHS National Park Service, we’d like to present an exclusive gallery of photos of his eclectic shoe collection along with a few pictures of him wearing them. Without a doubt, Truman was one of the most dapper presidents of the 20th century and so it is a pure joy to look at the details of his wardrobe.
As Truman was an avid supporter of classic menswear, it does not come as a surprise to see that he owned a total of 96 pairs of shoes, including many classic oxford shoes. However, he also had quite a selection of more unusual shoes that most presidents of the 20th century did not have in their shoe closets. I would like to focus my attention more on the unusual models. If the shoes seem rather small to you, it is because Truman wore a size 7.
This was one of the very classic wingtip brogues in burgundy-brown he owned. Note the criss – cross lacing used for the shoe. Personally, I prefer straight laces for oxford shoes and crossed for derbys. This particular pair was made by Gerardo Vitiello and features a leather and linen lining. Nowadays it seems that all leather linings are considered to be top notch, but back in the day, a linen lining was often used under the front uppers. I own a few shoes with linen lining and I have to say I prefer its breathability over a leather lining.
Truman wearing some classic brogue oxfords.
Sadly, the black and white pictures don’t reveal what shade his shoes were, though given the occasion, I assume these shoes were black. In the picture, you see the Trumans returning to the White House after a three and a half year renovation.
More so than other presidents, Truman had an affinity to summer shoes in white as well as spectators. I was able to find quite a few pictures of him wearing white shoes in the summer and the wear of the soles also proves that he frequently wore them. This model is a plain off white buck skin oxford. As you can see the upper seam on the inside, it is technically not a wholecut shoe, but it looks like one. I am sure it would look great with a seersucker suit.
This is a beautiful classic wingtip oxford in white buckskin suede with a rubber sole that was made by Allen Edmonds. The fact that it has 7 eyelets makes it special because most Oxfords have just 5, current Allen Edmonds have 6, but 7 really creates a different look. Personally, I find this last quite elegant – the rounded toebox is tapered and flatter than current models. Overall a fantastic shoe that is still missing in my shoe collection.
Another of Truman’s favorites was the spectator shoe in brown and white. He owned several of these two tone shoes and I would love to see a future president wear these again in the summer. This model features goodyear welted leather soles and white suede. Unfortunately, it is not clear who made these shoes but to me they look very similar to Allen Edmonds lasts from the present. The fact that it has a Cat’s Paw rubber heel proves that it was resoled and so it is clear that Truman must have worn them quite a bit.
These brown alligator and white suede captoe spectators were made by Nettleton Syracuse, NY where the company produced shoes from 1879 to 1984. The welt is very finely stitched and the heel is fastened with brass nails. Overall, an exquisite pair of spectators.
This unusual spectator with split toe and derby lacing was made by Ike Kempner and Brothers Shoe store (known as Kempner throughout the US in the early 20th century). The shoes feature a leather sole, rubber heals, a uniquely perforated suede vamp as well as unusual detailing. Back in the day, you’d find a much bigger variety in classic men’s shoe styles and this is the perfect example.
A very rare picture of Truman with mustache and hat and boots while training for the reserve in Fort Riley, Kansas in July 1927.
Politicians often try to emphasize their patriotism by displaying their use of domestic products, ranging from cars to suits and shoes. Truman seems not to have favored any one shoe simply because it was American. At least, there are a number of shoes that were produced abroad. Instead of origin, he seems to have favored the unique style of a specific shoe. This monk strap shoe with a square toe is not really to my liking, nevertheless it is an noteworthy example of the variety in Truman’s shoe closet. It was made of black boxcalf leather by Nicholas Alianiello from Toronto, who patented a cushioned shoe in 1950.
On the beach, Truman preferred a tropical helmet and light weight shoes, such as these colorful cotton canvas sneakers with a crepe sole.
conditionTruman was a believer in proper evening wear and possessed not only a tuxedo, but also white dinner jackets and a tailcoat. The patent leather shoes below were his companion for these outfits. Made by Florsheim, the rounded last is quite elegant and the slim blucher style make them just as formal as plain patent leather oxford. This model reminds me of formal opera pumps without being too dissimilar from a regular shoe.
Below, you can see an extravagant pair of brown leather boots with synthetic fur which were made by the Atheltic Shoe Company of Chicago. They were sold in the early 1950′s, so the shoe has to be more than 60 years old. Interestingly, the sole reveals that the shoes have never been worn outside, which makes me assume it may have been a gift that Truman accepted but never wore.
In this picture, we can see Truman together with Herbert Hoover on the opening day of the Truman library on July 6, 1957. He wears the exact same two tone shoes that you can see below. It was made by Freeman in Maine around 1945 and advertised as “Wonderful Feeling”. The style is similar to a Norwegian shoe with a gray fabric vamp, and little black leather tassels. Just like most of his other shoes, it featured a leather sole with a rubber heel.
Truman’s estate consisted of 5 pairs of boots, just 1 pair of loafers, 4 pairs of sandals, 42 pairs of regular shoes, 3 deck shoes, and an astonishing 21 slippers! Below, we show you just a few of this eclectic collection of house shoes.
This embroidered Albert slippers are quite flamboyant and a bit effeminate, but as you can see below, they were obviously not worn very often, although they were part of Truman’s collection since 1952.
Instead he preferred the classic leather slippers seen below.
Another pair of house shoes was made by Church’s of England.
Last but not least, take a look at this pair of blue velvet house slippers with leather sole and HT embroidery. When I first saw them, I wondered why they actually embroidered the script facing the wearer. Once I realized that these shoe were made by Ang Tibay in Manila it became clear that they probably don’t make too many embroidered slippers which would explain why the monogramming was upside down.
Overall, Truman had quite the shoe collection and probably no US president after him was as much of a clothes horse as he was. Now that you got a glimpse into his shoe collection, what is your favorite and least favorite pair?
Picture Credit: Harry S Truman NHS National Park Service