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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Best Foot Forward Book Summary

book coverStarting off on the right foot.  Toe the line. Take a walk on the wild side! Put your best foot forward! Even the phrase ‘The Naked Truth!’

These are all expressions we have all heard at some point in our lives, and probably on several occasions, like when going for a job interview or meeting people in a social setting.  Now, in the new book Best Foot Forward, photographer Eric La Price explains the rich and colorful history of feet and shoes and takes us in a whole new direction.

In 2007, La Price won first place in a photography contest for a jewelry company looking for “the best foot they could find.” The company specialized in foot jewelry and he won the contest with a photograph of his friend Laurie and her Firecracker nail polish. 

After the contest was over, he realized he had collected some really interesting photographs and for the next five years he continued to photo document people putting their best foot forward. After five years, he compiled and gleaned all the fascinating information he had acquired and published the best of the photos and stories in a new book titled, Best Foot Forward.

The earliest documented use of the expression ‘putting your best foot forward’ comes from poet and essayist Sir Thomas Overbury, who in 1613 placed the phrase into a poem titled “A Wife.” His exact quote was “He is still setting the best foot forward.” Although this is the first recorded instance, it is likely the expression had been around for centuries. Essentially, “to put your best foot forward” has evolved to mean to go forth on a journey with a specific purpose and enthusiasm. Or simply put, go and do something to the best of your ability.

La Price’s book is a whimsical historical and photographic tour d ’force of the incredible and diverse ways women adorn their feet while trying to make a great impression and impress how people see them. 

Each chapter of the book presents dozens of exquisite color photos documenting the incredible range of shoes, fashions and jewelry women have used to enhance their appearance. They are presented alongside well-research text that summarizes and captures the rich, colorful and often noteworthy history in an enjoyable and entertaining way. 

For example, the first high heel for fashion is generally attributed to Catherine de Medici (1519-1589). Her marriage was an arranged one, and she felt that she was in competition with the Duke of Orleans’ taller mistress. To compensate for her small stature, she used heels to gain a few inches. Her heels were a success and quickly became associated with privilege.

In the early 1700s, King Louis the XIV of France wore tall and intricate heels, which became known as “Louis Heels.” Louis even decreed that only nobility could wear red heels and nobody’s could be taller than his.

In 1791, Napoleon banished high heels in an attempt to establish equality. In 1793, Marie Antoinette went to her execution wearing heels, which helped them to fall out of favor until the mid-1800s.

High heels were used and went through development on boots for horsemen, due to the need to hold their feet in the stirrups of saddles for hard riding.  By the middle of the nineteenth century, the design of coaches and the development of railways diminished the need for a boot that was primarily suited for riding.

By 1850, fashionable high heels were popular among both sexes. Anyone who had wealth or authority was referred to as “well heeled.” Over time, heels became slender, and shoes became sleeker and more form fitting to the foot. High heels had the effect of helping men and women sculpt their bodies to make them appear more aristocratic and refined.

High heels remained popular until the early twentieth century when a shift to flatter shoes came into style. That lasted until the 1920s, when higher hemlines on women’s clothing led to a demand by women for, guess what, Louis Heels. Now, instead of being designed for both sexes, they were mostly directed toward women.

The d’Orsay pump, with its cut-away sides and V front (illustrated here), was originally a man’s shoe, designed by Count Alfred  Guillaume Gabriel  d’ Orsay. 

There’s even research that suggests that wearing high heels can be good for you. A study done at Harvey Mudd College in California concluded that wearing heels improves the muscle tone of legs.  Worn moderately, heels activate the inner and outer calf muscles more evenly than flat shoes.

From simple and bare, to sandals, to bejeweled to stilettoes, Best Foot Forward will have you taking another look at people and seeing what they choose to wear on their feet in a whole new light.

Best Foot Forward
Eric La Price

List $25.95
Trade softcover 120 color pages by Booker Press
ISBN 978-0-615-74248-9
Library of Congress Control Number   2013902552

The book contains many full color photographs of how women are putting their best foot forward. There is a section on high heels, a section on flats, section on sandals, a section on pedicures, a section on tattoos, a section on toe rings, and a section on other foot jewelry. 

Eric La Price was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Gannon University. He has been shooting photography for over 30 years starting in the seventies with a Kodak Instamatic. His photographs have appeared in numerous books, magazines and calendars. He lives in Cottonwood, Arizona.

After you finish reading the Best Foot Forward, you may want to review our best shoes section here on Apparel Search.  That is a new area recently added to our consumer fashion directory.  You may enjoy the best of 2014 guide.

Thank you for taking the time to read our fashion blog post. We hope that you have found this news to be informative. 

View more fashion and shoe book blog posts here on Apparel Search.
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