Pivotal shoe styles over the years

Published on 9 February 2024 at 14:54


When I was younger and in particular at school, when pier pressure was on, to keep up with all the latest trends and fashion, I remember one distinct item that I just had to have.  That was the platform school shoes, we are talking the late ‘90s after all.  


Doing my research for this post has been such an eye opener, some styles from really early decades are pretty much still with us now.  Fashion is art, as they say, and boy, it always will be, no matter how small.


You will also read some interesting history behind brands and how shoes reflected some popular music trends.


Wearing the right shoe


A good shoe’s job is to align our body when walking. There can be added strain on hip joints, knee joints and our back, if you are wearing the wrong shoes. It should protect your feet as well making the foot comfortable.  A good shoe that fits correctly, can help alleviate bunions, blisters and stress on small bones.  After all, there are 26 tiny bones in the foot alone.  


So let's get to it: Pivotal shoe styles over the years


1950s - Women



After the Second World War, shoes became easier to own, after restrictions were lifted,  production of them soared at an incredible rate.  The biggest trend for women during this decade were stiletto’s with a rounded toe.  A court shoe was the highest selling style in the 1950s. Closed shoes were more favoured over an open toe sandal.  By the mid-fifties, kitten heels were fondly worn, as bigger skirts and bold patterns made an entrance.


1950s - Men



Colours of shoes for men in this decade tended to be either black or brown.  Leather shoes were in high demand, with this decade recording the peak of production. Maintaining a leather shoe then, was important.  Little shoe shine businesses were set up on most Street corners.  But once Soul music hit the waiting ears, suede was introduced, making it a more pleasing texture to work with.  They were also cheaper to buy.


1960s - Women



A more pointed toe for shoes and slingbacks were a must-have in the sixties.  Plastic was even making an appearance, as shoe companies found it cheaper and a simpler way of producing shoes.  They were more colourful and comfortable than ever before.  And laced Converse shoes were also in the line up for a top style trend.  Rhinestones were seen on shoes in the late 1960s.  But the biggest seller was the shoe named ‘Mary Jane’.



This started in the USA and the history behind it stemmed from a cartoon character ‘Buster Brown and His Sweetheart Mary Jane’.  They were flat, rounded toe shoes with a strap across the front.


1960s - Men



Brothel-creepers were sought after for men still, after first making an appearance during the War.  They were suede but adapted to be more streamline and comfortable.  This was the decade for The Beatles and Rock ‘n’ Roll music, so this style of shoe made it easier to dance at Rockabilly get-togethers.  Chelsea boots were also very popular,  along with a good Winklepicker shoe.  It is said that the longer the point, the higher your social status is.


1970s - Women



Glam rock arrives, bringing with it, the platform shoe! The Seventies could not get enough of this style, both men and women were obsessed.  The Seventies was all about experimenting, mainly drugs and sex, it was the ‘Peace loving’ decade.  A good platform shoe was seen mostly with a bell-bottom jean and as I have already mentioned, this shoe makes another appearance later on.  When Disco was now in the charts, a classic look was a jumpsuit with flared bottoms, big hair and platforms.


1970s - Men



Other than platforms for men, cowboy boots were mostly seen, with detailed stitching and a heel.  This was down to an introduction of the Starsky & Hutch TV program, which was really popular.  Available still was the Longwing Brogue, with their distinctive pattern and laces.



1980s - Women



Branded trainers were sought after in the Eighties, Reebok, Adidas and Puma being the top names.  White ankle boots were also a big hit, making a big fashion statement with the kitten heel.  And do you remember jellie shoes?  They were everywhere late in the decade, and I for one remember wearing them on most of my summer holidays, I loved them. 


And once more a shoe making a come back into fashion was the high heeled stiletto. The ‘80s saw a rise of women in high power jobs, no business woman was complete without a pair of pointed toe stilettos, the taller, the better.

1980s - Men



Nike Air Jordans were so popular then, namely after the basketball player Michael Jordan. And who remembers a good ole Moccasin? Worn for comfort and sustainability, these were a must-have. A decade when corduroy and turtle neck jumpers was the fashion, so too was a Penny Loafer.  A good slip on shoe that could be worn for casual or formal. 


1990s - Women



When Nokia were literally making a different model mobile phone every year of the Nineties, Kickers was a popular brand in shoes, with their hard wearing leather, laces and a solid heel.  The brand was created by a French designer, Daniel Raufast.  Heeled mules and square toed loafers were still in the running of popular styles.



But more importantly, all was overruled by a good old fashioned Platform.  And I rebelled in it.  I loved my platform shoes that I proudly wore to school in the late 90s. All thanks to the Spice Girls for bringing them to the attention of every girl, globally.



1990s - Men



The Brand Le Coq Sportif were making a comeback in the Nineties.  Actually founded in 1882 in France, originally making sporting shirts.  Reebok Pumps were also huge for men, making them the most sought after sport trainer.  


Doc Marten boots were very prominent, with their air sole and thick stitching, making them a fashion trend for men. Doc Marten’s were founded in Germany but proudly I have read, their headquarters were in fact in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.


00s - Women



Ballet flats, flip flops and Ugg boots were among the top styles of footwear in this decade.  And why was everything clear in the early Noughties? Clear headbands, clear bags and clear shoes. A fashion trend that I can see, may make another appearance in future. 


Do you remember the chinese slipper? They were so popular, available in many different colours and were sold everywhere.  Yes, I did have a few different colours myself.  Alexander Wang even showcased them on the New York Fashion Week runway.


00s - Men



For men, Timberland boots, Vans and coloured trainers were the favoured choice.  When leatherjackets were now a must-have, it had to be twinned with jeans and Adidas Campus 00s.


Thank you so much for reading.


What brand of shoe have you always dreamed about owning?


What style of shoe is the most comfortable you have worn?




Add comment


4 months ago

I loved reading this post about how shoe styles have changed over the decades! It's amazing the change over time in style and comfort too! x

Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

4 months ago

It was really great when doing the research for this, shoes bringing back memories. I enjoyed putting this post together. Thanks for reading x

4 months ago

Some of these styles bring back memories about what my school shoes looked like!

4 months ago

Yes! You and me both. Hope they were happy memories for you. And thank you for commenting

Sal Gaze
4 months ago

Shoes! Remembering first pair of diadora trainers 🙄
I love when you blog about self help! Positive attitudes, referral to different organisations like self help grooms, .lending an ear to each other, is there as much mental health support out there for men as much as women .
Love your advise,
Oh also I love and miss your word of the month
If it’s a word I haven’t heard of them iv learned something new!!
Love sal

3 months ago

Yesss diadora trainers, thought they were just the best back then haha!
And thank you so much for your kind words. I do love bringing my special word to my readers