Womens Shoes Ideas- 40+ Pictures Ideas

1950s Shoe Styles: Heels, Flats, Sandals, Saddles Shoes

1950s shoes, hmm which ones shall I wear today.

A Plethora of 1950s Shoes

Fashion in the 1950s brought the world out of the conservative war years and into the dazzling ’50s. Dresses were bigger, accessories richer, hairstyles taller, and shoes.…well plainer. With so much new emphasis on the rest of women’s fashion, 1950s shoe styles became understated accessories. Instead of bold patterns and a pile of fancy adornments, shoes were basic classy single color pumps, flats, wedgies, and loafers. Black and brown were the main choices for day wear, while brighter colors were acceptable for summer sportswear or house slippers. Shoes also coordinated perfectly with an outfit’s accessories, matching purses, gloves, belts, and even jewelry perfectly.

The 1950s shoe styles were varied but almost all came down to fitting into one of these popular silhouettes.

1950s Pumps

1950s heeled pumps shoes

1950s Pumps

1950s heels, tall heels shoes 1952

1952 Tall Heel Shoes

In the early 1950s the stiletto heeled opera, court and pump shoes were all the rage. At an extreme, they were very tall with 4-inch spiked ultra thin heels. Early on, the heels ended in a small metal cap that left dents in soft wood floors, requiring some museum and court houses to forbid stiletto shoes. The stiletto featured tall arches with a V shaped cut away from the shoe sides.  Red was the most bold and most in demand color for formal wear. They were impractical and mostly only worn for very special occasions, short durations, and by fashion models.

The winklepicker was a extreme version of the already extreme opera pump. With its sharp pointy toe and high thin heel, it was trendy in the late 1950s for formal and even semi formal at home wear.

Thicker but still shapely tall heels continued to be worn with fancy dresses. Some heels had pretty all over designs carved, painted or printed onto them, while others had decorations around the edges.

The very strappy tall heel shoes were another ideal shoe for evening wear. Ultra thin T-straps, slingbacks and ankle straps all provided just enough coverage to keep the shoe on but ultimately made the foot look bare.  Especially in nude colors and sometimes clear plastics, they complimented dreamy party dresses elegantly. 

1950s fancy sandal heels

1951 Strappy Heels

1950s Ankle Strap Wedges and Flat Shoes

Ankle Strap Wedges and Flat

Lucile Ball wore tall chunky ankle strap shoes through most of the early 1950s. These were a carry over style from the 1940s worn by many pinup girls. While many shoes retained the thicker heels of the war years, especially for working classes, most fashion followers preferred the smaller narrow heeled shoes as a rebellion from the masculine ’40s.

1954, McCalls says point toe kitten heel pumps with an ankle strap were the in style for spring

1954, McCalls says point toe kitten heel pumps with an ankle strap were the in style for spring

After trying to balance on tall heels, most 1950s women regained their senses and accepted low but still thin kitten heel shoes. These classic dress shoes were safer to walk in yet still remained elegant and classy. Shoes were made of a soft leather or reptile skin. Suede and some fabric materials, like velvet or mesh, were used as well. Toes were very pointed in the early years and more rounded in the later years. For evening wear, jewel tone colors, especially glittery gold and dark silver, were fashionable.

1940s baby doll shoes pumps

“Baby Doll” Pumps

For everyday wear, around the house or running errands, a thicker low to mid heeled pump was the best choice. Black was the color that went with the most outfits, so every woman had at least one pair. One style of day pumps were called Baby Dolls. They featured very round toes that resembled a doll’s shoes. They came in many fun colors during the spring and summer, with cute accent decorations on the trim or an ornament on the vamp.

1950s bay doll heel shoes by Aldens called "Baby Toes"

1953 “Baby Toes” Shoes

1950s Sandals

1950s Flat Sandals

1956 Flat Sandals

Unlike the 1940s famous peep toes sandals, the 1950s version was far more sexy. Toes were fully exposed and straps very thin. Evening sandals showed off the most naked foot skin and had the thinnest heels. Most day wear sandals had lower chunky heels and a medium thick ankle strap around the heel called a slingback. Slingback straps were found on pumps, wedges and slip on casual shoes, too. The style assured women their feet would not slip out of the shoes- a dangerous and embarrassing accident.

The most casual of all sandals was the rubbersole flip flop. Women and girls loved them, husbands, not so much. They were noisy to wear and many kids were only allowed to wear them outside where they couldn’t be heard flip flopping away. They became very popular going into the 1960s.

Take a look at the history of sandals through the decades. 

1950s sonnet shoes, sandals

Colorful Strappy Sandles

1950s Ballet Flats

1950s ballet flat shoes

Lifestride Flatties, Saddle and Loafer Shoes

1950s flat shoes- 1956. So cute!

1956 Flats

Another 1950s shoe style called flatties, or flats in today’s lingo, were popular house shoes. They were sometimes worn with pants outside of the home for casual occasions. Teenagers wore them as often as saddle shoes when Audrey Hepburn declared them as her favorites. Ballet flats featured very small heels of 1/2 inch but were the most trendy, having no heels at all– just flat, flat flat!  Black was the most common color with a thin bow on the top. Other colors often matched an accessory such as a belt, scarf, purse, or hair ornament. 

Of all the flatties brands, Capezio was the cream of the crop. They were luxury for those that could afford them, but oh so divine. They had no heels, very low profile sides, deep cut on the toes revealing toe cleavage, and sharp pointed toe tips. They exuded sexiness like no other flat could!

1950s gillie shoes ghillie shoes

Ghillie Shoes

Capezio and Bernardo both created a lace up flat called ghillies. It was a sister to the espadrille shoe but looked more like a cross between a men’s Oxford and a ballet shoe. The long laces provided endless amusement in devising new ways to tie the straps. At the back of the ankle was the best way for 1950s espadrilles, while wrapping up and around the leg was the vogue thing to do with ghillies. Many movies show cased women dancing in ghillies (see if you can spot them next time you watch a 1950s musical).

1950s espadrille shoes

1950s Espadrille Shoes

1950s Wedges

1950s wedge shoes with a 1/2 platform

1950s Wedge Shoes with a 1/2 Platform

Beside the peep toe, the iconic shoe of the 1940s was the wedge or wedgie shoe. They were, however, equally popular in the 1950s. Wedges naturally retain the chunky sturdy shape and give a nice lift to the heel (sexy!). Toe openings were bigger in the 1950s, and wedge heels a bit taller and curved inward for a slightly more delicate look.  Most came with a .5-inch platform sole as well, giving extra height to the wearer. They were and still are a style that screams “vintage” or “retro” shoes!

1950s summer shoes, platform heels

1952 Colorful Summer Wedge Heels

1950s Slippers and Mules

1950s slipper shoes

1957 Slippers and Flats

Only in extreme summer heat did women go without stockings. Wearing stockings with sandals was a must. Wearing them with strapless mules made for a rather slippery experience. In 1954, a solution called “Spring-O-Lators” featured a leather and elastic band down the inside of the mule to push the foot forward and keep the shoe on.  Finally, women could wear mules for evening wear or at home as dainty bedroom slippers (not practical enough for house slippers, bedroom slippers were only worn with sexy lingerie as an enticement for husbands).

For summer wear, thin heeled mule shoes and slingback sandals were in vogue. If they featured any extra adornment, it came in the form of a thin, flat bow across the toe. Straps were wide, and heels either very thin or more commonly thick and rounded.

Oxford- 1950s Saddle Shoes

1950s style shoes - the black and whiate saddle shoes was worn bye very teenager

1957 Saddle Shoes

Teenagers and house wives wore saddle shoes. These were black and white oxford shoes most associated with teenage girls in felt poodle skirts. They were usually worn with a pair of bobby socks-– white socks rolled or folded down 2 or 3 times. The soles and heels were black along with the center panel. White shoes and heels had to kept in pristine condition. Girls would clean and shine their shoes nightly and buy new ones as soon as they began to show signs of wear. Learn about the history of saddle shoes. 

1950s nurse shoes or casual everyday shoes

1955 White bucks and “nurse” comfort shoes

White “bucks”, or nubucks, were another style of Oxford shoe for teens. They had to be kept perfectly white all the time. Small “bunny bags” of chalk powder were included with each white buck shoe so girls could powder them on breaks. Another white shoe was the clunky Joyce, which resembled nurses shoes or senior orthopedic shoes today. They also had to be kept perfectly white at all times. Bleaching laces, polishing leather and washing soles were all part of the nightly routine.

Some teens still wore Mary Jane shoes— a single strap Oxford shoe.  They were a young girl’s shoe that to teens meant you were too young to know how to keep your shoes on. Graduating to a strapless shoe meant growing up. There was a trend for the T-strap shoes, which returned everyone back to strapped shoes again.  Black or red were the most popular colors among 12-15 year-olds.  Even women jumped on the trend with T-strap evening shoes and sandals.

1953 Mary Jane Shoes with low heels

1953 Mary Jane Shoes with Low Heels

1950s bunnies pr bynny shoes, popular with teens. 1957

1957 Bunnies Shoes

Another teenage shoe trend in the late ’50s was bunny shoes, or just bunnies. They were leather slip-ons in white, black or red with two “ears” for a tongue and wings on the heel for a bunny tail. The fad for bunnies, also called pixies, was wide spread but short lived among girls and teens. Women’s shoes, however, adopted the “ears” calling them twin peaks and placing them onto loafers and flats. The two peaks stayed in fashion into the early ’60s.

1950s twin peak slip on shoes. The bunnies style for women. 1957

1957 Twin Peak Slipon Shoes

1950s Loafers

1950's Loafers and moccasins hoes

1955 Loafers and Moccasins

The most casual shoe for girls and women was the loafer. Moccasins fit into this category and were a staple in most young women’s closets. Easy to slip on, available in all sorts of fun colors, casual enough to wear with bobby socks or sockless, and durable enough to last all year, they were practically perfect.

1956 Moccasin Shoes

1956 Moccasin Shoes

The penny loafer got its name by the slit in the decorative leather strap across the tongue. It was sized for a coin that teens would use to call home. Brown or white were the most common penny loafer colors. Other slip on loafer shoes came in many colorful shades and shiny materials, like patent leather or plastic. Some were clear plastic, although they proved problematic once the foot started to sweat turning the plastic milky white. Yuck!

1950s house shoes slippers loafers saddles

1950s Colorful Shoes for Teens

Loafers were worn by women with sport attire, like play-suits, shorts, capri pants, and jumper dresses. Casual shoes for casual clothing was the rule. No stockings or even socks were required either.

1950s Winter Boots

1950s rain boot covers

1950s rain boot covers

With high heels and casual flats dominating 1950s footwear, the question of how women dealt with rain and snow in winter is a common one. There were a few solutions depending on the severity of weather.

First the rain. Rain boots or galoshes have gone unchanged since the start of the 1900s. The 1950s version offered up thin rubber boot covers that fastened to one side. They were worn over shoes mimicking the shape of women’s high heels. Another option were rubber slip in heels or loafer that were worn instead of nice shoes (which were often carried and changed into once inside). And finally, tall rubber rain boots like those you still see today were the ultimate in wet weather protection. Most ladies’ rain boots and shoes had a small to medium sized heel to keep a woman looking ladylike.

190s rain boots, galoshes and rubber shoes

1955 Rain Boots and Shoes

Fur Lined boots and booties

Fur Lined Boots and Booties

For snow conditions, a warmer boot was needed. Just like rain boots that were worn over heels, fur-lined snow boots also came in overshoes.  There were shapely heeled boots as well as flat sole boots able to fit over Oxfords and other casual shoes. The boots came in black, white or brown leather or rubber with a zip up the front or fasted to one side. The zipper sometimes was packed in snow and froze shut. They were also not well known for there watertightness. Many mothers wrapped their kids’ feet in plastic bread bags before slipping them into boots. It worked, too!

Most lined boots could be folded over to create a cuff or folded up to be a tall boot.

1955 fur lined winter boots

1955  Fur-lined Winter Boots

Winter snow boots and shoes came in other styles, too, such as tall lace ups, western or ankle high booties. Lower priced boots replaced fur lining with quilting, shearling, faux shearling, or fleece.

1950s snow boots, winter fashion

1953 Winter Fashion Boots

1955 shearling lined lace up boot in a classic "Victorian" design.

1955 Shearling-lined Lace Up Boot in a Classic “Victorian” Design.

Shop for vintage style rain boots and snow boots here and learn about vintage boots history with pictures here. 

More Shoe History

There are, of course, other styles of 1950s shoes not mentioned here. Sport shoes, such as Keds or Plimsolls, remained popular from the 1930s onward. Various boots for work or sport fashions are deserving of a future article of their own. Same for house slippers, sexy or practical.  They were a part of every woman’s wardrobe yet are not discussed in fashion history books very often.