Footwear, 1946โ€“60

Men's shoes did not go through a great deal of change in the fifteen years following the end of World War II (1939โ€“45). During the late 1940s, while Bold Look, or showy, fashions were in style, there was a brief preference for thicker-soled, heavier shoes to accompany the bolder cuts and colors in men's suits. By the 1950s, however, as suit styles became more conservative, men turned to lighter soled, traditionally cut dress shoe styles such as moccasins, wing tips, or bluchers, heavy, blunt-toed oxfords. For casual wear, men could turn to the newly popular Top-Sider, a comfortable moccasin-style shoe with a no-slip sole. Late in the 1950s Italian shoe styles became popular. These were longer and lighter in weight, with a low-cut upper. Finally, for children, young adults, and active adults, the tennis shoe or athletic shoe remained the shoe of choice.

Women's shoe styles, like women's fashion in general, were much more vibrant. The New Look fashions that took the world by storm in the late 1940s brought a renewed concern for style and elegance in shoes. The shoes that were chosen with New Look outfits had pointed toes and revealed more of the foot than earlier shoes. Over the years the heel in women's dress shoes grew slimmer and slimmer. In the early 1950s the stiletto heel, which came to a nearly needle-like point, saw this trend reach its peak. As hem-lines in women's dresses rose late in the 1950s, heels actually became shorter and less pointed. The standard women's shoe was the pump, offered in an array of cuts and colors to mix and match with other outfits. Finally, the emergence of new technologies during this period allowed for the invention of plastic shoes in 1947. Within a few years plastic shoes were made in a variety of colors and styles.


Ewing, Elizabeth. History of Twentieth Century Fashion. Revised by Alice Mackrell. Lanham, MD: Barnes and Noble Books, 1992.

Schoeffler, O. E., and William Gale. Esquire's Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.

Steele, Valerie. Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

Plastic Shoes
Stiletto Heel

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: