I am a vintage shoe addict; I collect many and occasionally I sell a few. I procured most of my favorite pairs right here on Ebay, and while I have had some successes, I have also gotten burned. It's no fun to watch an auction all week, place your bid so you can get that perfect pair of platform heels that will go so well with all your fall outfits; you wait a few days for them to arrive, only to find they don't fit when you finally open the box! Eeek! So now after a few years, I figured out what to ask or look for, to prevent any future disappointments.
In selling shoes, the most successful way is by listing the size in the auction title - far more successful than keywords, as your big buyers check the vintage shoes on a daily basis and this will save on time for them.
The most accurate way to list the size of your shoes is by the measurements, not just the printed size; determine modern fit through the measurements, which I will list below.
If you are new to buying vintage shoes, the best way to estimate a proper fit is to compare to your favorite fitting shoes.
Take a soft tape and run it flat along the bottom of the insole (insole is the inside sole, outsole is the outer sole), from the heel to the tip of the toe, careful to stay on the sole and not curve up the wall of the toe. In footwear, a matter of millimeters means a difference in size, so being attentive is key. It's harder for pointy shoes, obviously, because the toe doesn't extend into the nose of the toe, and as a seller, you should always mention that, as sometimes the ladies are just juggling several things and forget. Any good seller considers their customers first, as it brings in repeat business and cuts down on hassles and returns.
Width makes a world of difference.
A 9N is not a 9. A 9N is a 9N.
Occasionally, an 8.5M can fit into them, but that is up to the buyer. Less than 3 1/4 inches wide at the ball of the foot (the widest part), is considered narrow or slim.
If on the printed size, it says 9S or 9N, that's your cue that it is a size 9, but with Slim or Narrow width. The letter directly following the size number, is the indicator.
If the shoe is marked "S," it stands for slim.
If the shoes is marked "N," is stands for narrow.
If the shoe is marked "B" or "M," it is a normal width.
If the shoe is marked "C," then it is either wide or a men's pair.
If the shoes is marked "W" is for wide.
The old sizes were a little different than they are today, a touch smaller generally - and especially in the 50's and 60's. Some of the 40's and 70's shoes are true to size.
The most common women's shoe size today is a 9, where as in the past, a 7.5 was more the norm, so those size 9's are harder to come by.
I wear a 9, 9.5 or a 10.
In 1950's & 1960's shoes it is always a 10.
1940's and 1970's I wear a perfect 9.5.
In modern sizing I can bounce between a 9 to a 9.5, depending on the maker.
Oddly enough, I have a 60's pair that is 8W and they fit!
The only thing in common between the sizes mentioned above are the measurements, which are always the same; I wear a 10.5 inches heel to toe and a 3 1/4 inches width. Odd that the measurements don't always equal the same size!
When I have a stunning pair of 1960's mod shoes that are marked a sz.9, I always list as 8.5-9, so that women who wear an 8.5 knows that these will probably fit her feet and a regular size 9 will know these run a little small. Again, in the description you will need to list measurements.
The general rule I follow is as follows (measured in inches long with normal width):
6 - 8 3/4
6.5 - 9
7 - 9 1/4
7.5 - 9 1/2
8 - 9 3/4
8.5 - 10
9 - 10 1/4
9.5 - 10 1/2
10 - 10 3/4
10.5 - 11
When buying European shoes, remember that the conversion always varies some; I can wear a 39-41. I know they use different measurements than we do, but they might just have a ruler with inches and usually they are pretty accomodating, so just ask! It can't hurt!
Flaws and Repairs -
As a seller, you are required to check out the shoes as thoroughly as possible and honestly list any defects. Most vintage buyers know that slight imperfection are the norm, or that a repair might be in order or cleaning. Even a "mint condition" pair in vintage will have an age spot from storage!
A heel cap is a $4 repair, but don't wear it without the cap, as that $4 repair turns into a $20 investment when they have to build up the heel to make it level!
When the sole pulls away from the shoe, that can range from between $20 and $40. I had a pair reattached one time and the glue my ex-cobbler used, damaged the finish of the shoes; they were metallic and unusual, something he wasn't used to dealing with. I had to shell out $50 having them re-dyed, and then another $85 to re-dye the remainder of the shoe, as it was a multicolor and I wanted the tones uniform! All for a pair I scored on Ebay for $25 plus shipping! I know new-shoe ladies drop $150 on a pair all the time, but we vintage shoe collectiors tend to be a little more on the frugal side, so I nearly fainted when I got the bill for those! I guess one has to be somewhat frugal when you own so many and take the time to have them polished and cleaned regularly!
A tear on the seam can be repaired, but that can run $20 and up. Leather is much easier to maintain and repair than vinyl; vinyl can sometimes be a lost cause.
A tear off the seam might mean the leather is weak. You might try asking your cobbler for a Lanolin dip, but it is costly and it might mean that the shoes are finished. An inside patch is always an option.
A deteriorating lining is unrepairable. You'll have to cut it out as best as possible or it will get all over your feet, leaving a powerdy residue, which is gross and most likely unhealthy.
A broken boot zipper can be fixed, provided it's leather. It will cost you, though. I am assuming over $35, but I'm not sure how much.
When your boots get too tight on the calves, if you gain some weight, you can have colored elastic inserts installed to provide a little room.
Scratches are a tough one, as colored leather is harder to remedy, but brown white or black is usually an easy fix. Colored leather might mean a dye job, which starts at $30.
Always spring for a cleaning, buff or polish; those leather shoes will last another 50 years with a little love!
If the shoes are sticky or tacky, then that means that the finish is ruined. I have found no remedy for this problem, other than scraping off the surface and covering them in glitter or fabric, neither of which is an easy chore. Tacky on the inside is the worst, as when you take them off, your feet will be filthy. Stay as far from shoes like these as you can!
If the soles are really run down or cracked, that is a major issue, as new soles can cost around $30-65. I re-soled a pair of pink patent leather shoes after searching fruitlessly for a replacement pair for a year. Generally, I don't bother unless they are special. Some cobblers do "fill-ins" or half soles for around $20-25, which is a more affordable option!
And my favorite way to treat myself is by having rubber treads installed on the bottom of the outsoles of heels and boots. They attach thin piece of ribbed rubber on the bottom of the shoe to prevent slipping. For those platform heels with the synthetic outsoles, it makes a world of difference! It cost around $15-20 and can literally mean the difference between walking and falling!
If you are a buyer, remember to ask about the size, as the sellers aren't required to refund unless they list the wrong size in the auction or grossly misrepresented it. It's up to you to do your homework!
Also ask about the shipping fees, as most shoes (not boots) fit into a USPS Flat Rate box for around $8. 05. You could end up paying sky high handling fees; personally I don't charge them and I avoid paying them (unless the shoes are underpriced or are so amazing, they are worth the extra cost). It's an unpleasant suprise at the end of the auction, as you are going through Checkout.
Lastly, shell out for the Delivery Confirmation. If you paid $110 for those 80's slouch boots, what's an extra couple bucks to be able to track them? They make an insurance claim much easier, encase they do get lost in the mail, and sometimes it happens, unfortunately. I always try and do a DC for anything over $10, just for my peace of mind.
I have some amazing shoes coming for auction in September, so please check my auctions, MODLUCY, for a diverse selection of vintage shoes, boots, coats and clothing!
I hope this helps!
Happy shoe shopping!