Fictional Fashion: Dorothy’s Silver Shoes

Dorothy with the silver shoes as drawn by W. W. Denslow in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

One of the most famous pieces of fiction fashion (and my personal favorite literary clothing item) is the magical shoes that Dorothy gets when she first visits Oz. In the story, they previously belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East, but after Dorothy’s house falls on her and kills her, the Good Witch of the North gives them to Dorothy as a gift and the little girl wears them for the rest of the story.

In the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the shoes are silver. The original illustrator, W. W. Denslow draws them as low heeled Mary Janes with a bow tie over the vamp of the foot and slightly turned up pointed toes. Dorothy is actually not told to wear them or keep them with her or even that they are special. They seem almost like an afterthought of a gift from the Good Witch of the North (who shakes out the dust that is the remainders of the Wicked Witch of the East before she hands them to Dorothy). She is only told the Wicked Witch was proud of them and they have a charm nobody knows the nature of. The girl only decides to wear them when changing for her journey down the Yellow Brick Road. Silver shoes seem sturdier than her worn out boots from Kansas and she expects them to serve better on a long walk.

Judy Garland wore these Ruby Slippers as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz”

Of course, it is the shoes that enrage the Wicked Witch of the West most and the shoes that eventually take Dorothy home to Kansas. Sadly, they fall off on the journey and are lost forever in the Deadly Desert.

But the shoes have had many lives and incarnations. They were made red for the 1939 MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz” in order to better show off the new Technicolor technology. They returned to their original silver for the musical “The Wiz” and since have existed in many versions in both colors in books, television shows, movies, games, and more.

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