Footwear, 1980โ€“2003

The emphasis on business attire that went along with the 1980s trend for "power dressing," or dressing for business success, triggered a surge in the fashion for stiff, formal shoes. Men wore shiny leather wing tips, oxfords, and other styles, and women wore pumps to work. Some of these dressy styles were uncomfortable, and people soon embraced new styles of shoes that were comfortable as well as fashionable. Before the 1980s comfortable formal shoes were often only available in styles suited to conservative, or reserved, old women and men, but with the increasing interest in sportswear, fashion shoe manufacturers began to combine comfort with style, making classically styled shoes with flexible supportive soles.

The health craze of the 1970s that started people wearing jogging suits and tennis shoes, even when they weren't exercising, continued into the twenty-first century when people wore fashionable brand name trainer shoes, tennis shoes, and sport-specific exercise shoes at the gym, at home, and even at work. Trainer shoes became coveted fashion items for young and old alike. By the 1990s more types of athletic footwear received attention, and many young men and women began wearing hiking boots as casual, everyday boots.

The past had a great influence on the footwear styles from the 1980s to 2003. Retro styles from the 1920s (T-strap sandals), 1960s (Birkenstocks), and 1970s (platform shoes) have all reemerged on the feet of fashion-conscious people. At the beginning of the twenty-first century fashion had become a globally influenced industry, and footwear styles of the West influenced those in the East and vice versa.


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

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