Shoe Styles Through the Decades

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    Victorian and Edwardian Era

    High Button Shoes Sold Through Ladies Home Journal in 1904
    High Button Shoes Sold Through Ladies Home Journal in 1904. - Scan by Pamela Y. Wiggins

    Whether you're a true shoe collector, vintage clothing enthusiast, or into historical reenactment (for Halloween or otherwise!), you'll enjoy this parade of footwear styles as seen through old magazine advertisements.

    The ad shown here, from Ladies Home Journal in June 1904, features a shoe style available in both lace up and button styles. This type of shoe was widely worn by women during the Victorian era through the Edwardian era, when long dresses were the style of the day.

    Showing...MORE ankles in public when lifting your dress to cross a muddy street or when climbing steps was inappropriate for a proper lady so high-top shoes were imperative. Even lower cut versions still covered the ankle.

    The high-top button styles required a special implement to pull the numerous tiny buttons through the eyes on the shoes, which were are more akin to ankle boots, or "booties," by modern standards.

    Continue to page 2 for 1920s styles.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    1920s

    Selby Shoe Ad from Ladies Home Journal in 1929
    Selby Shoe Ad from Ladies Home Journal in 1929. - Scan by Pamela Y. Wiggins

    This fashionable lady sports shoes proven to be popular in a October 1929 Ladies Home Journal advertisement. Three more Selby brand styles are also shown.

    By the 1920s, as clothing styles changed dramatically for women and hemlines went up, it was no longer necessary to cover the ankle and shoe styles conformed appropriately. The pairs shown here had pointier toes and higher heels than their old-fashioned high-top predecessors.

    Interchangeable shoe buckles were also popular during the '20s so...MORE a plain pair of shoes could be transformed for evening wear by simply strapping on a buckle adorned with rhinestones, marcasites, or cut steel.

    See page 3 for 1930s styles.

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    1930s

    Vitality Shoe Advertisement from Ladies Home Journal in 1937
    Vitality Shoe Advertisement from Ladies Home Journal in 1937. - Scan by Pamela Y. Wiggins

    Ranging in color from hunter green to sporty navy, this Vitality brand shoe ad appeared in Ladies Home Journal in October 1937.

    The most notable difference between 1920s and '30s shoe styles is the more rounded toe. The heel heights remained similar although they may have been slightly thicker in some instances.

    During this era in shoe fashion history, shoe clips were often used to adorn a plain pair of shoes to dress them up. A practice even more widely embraced by Depression-era women who...MORE could more readily afford a pair of fancy clips even if they couldn't afford a pair of evening shoes at the time.

    See page 4 for 1950s styles.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
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    1950s

    Marquis Footwear Ad from Vogue in 1957
    Marquis Footwear Ad from Vogue in 1957. - Scan by Pamela Y. Wiggins

    An artistic Vogue advertisement from March 1959 for some very uncomfortable looking Marquise footwear.

    Obviously pointy toes were the rage in the 1950s, and the pump ruled whether plain or sling-backed as shown here. Heels were much more slender than in prior decades although not considerably higher than in the 1940s when platform shoes first emerged.

    Shoe clips be came popular again to decorate plain pumps. But these shoe accessories were much smaller in size for the most part since '50s...MORE shoes were daintier overall when compared with the chunky styles of prior decades.