Fancy Footwork at Bloomie's Chestnut Hill

Bloomingdales Photo by Ashley Wood

On their way to pay homage to Miu Miu’s glittery holiday heels, Jimmy Choo’s patent leather stilettos, or the colorful array of Tory Burch flats, visitors to the Bloomingdale’s Chestnut Hill location will be happy to find a pleasant, albeit subtle, addition to the shoe section. Thanks to a new display from Historic New England, shoppers will not only get to ogle the usual lot of Stuart Weitzmans and Ferragamos, they’ll also be able to learn about the designs that pre-dated them.

Curator Nancy Carlisle, of Historic New England, has carefully put together six pairs of American women’s footwear in a collection that spans from the 18th century to the 20th century. While the installation is small, it’s only a preview of what is available to members of the preservation organization, which boasts a large custom collection of clothing from as early as the 17th century.

Although not all the pairs on display are designed in America, they have a history of being worn by fashionable women in the New England area, including Boston. From pointed heels to Parisian mules to open-toed sandals, you can see how footwear changed as women’s fashion progressed. For example, as hemlines shortened, heels became more elaborate and decorative — cue Alexander McQueen’s 12-inch stilettos.

The installation is small and doesn’t necessarily warrant its own trip to Bloomie’s, but anyone looking to get some early holiday shopping out of the way might as well indulge in a dose of fashion history while they’re at it.

One note of warning, though: after seeing how comfortable (and low!) 18th century heels are, you may decide to pass on those new Jimmy Choos. (On display through October 23, Bloomingdales Chestnut Hill, 225 Boylston Street, Newton, 617-630-6000, —Ashley Wood