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1940s Fashion Shoes for Women

Updated on January 27, 2011

1940's Vintage Modern Womens Shoes for You!

Yes you can buy 1940s style shoes that are comfortable, fashionable and brand new. Vintage shoes are hard to find, often uncomfortable and well kind of gross. Thankfully there has been a vintage trend in shoe fashions so finding 1940s style new shoes is easy. These every day fashion can be found everywhere. Once you know what styles to look for shopping will be a breeze.

Take a look at these six classic 1940s women's shoes styles here plus some good shopping sites for 40's shoes.

1940s Mary Jane Shoes

Mary Jane. Low heeled black or brown Mary Jane style shoes were in everyone woman's closet. This style with a single strap across the foot and chunky heel had been common for several decades. It was a solid design, comfortable, and easy to make. What sets a 1940s Mary Jane shoes apart from other decades was the material. Leather was in short supply during the war so shoes were made of any available fabric, mesh or reptile skin!

In the later 40's heel height grew and so did those of Mary Jane's, although strapless heels were more common. Read on about 1940s Pumps.

1940's Womens Oxford Shoes
1940's Womens Oxford Shoes

1940's Oxford Shoes

Oxford shoes for women with the two toned black and white or brown and white design are a symbol of the 1950s. However they actually were equally popular in the 1940s among the younger girls and ladies. Heels were usually low and somewhat "manly" looking. Worn with a cute pair of white short bobby socks these shoes were ideal for everyday casual wear.

Oxfords could be worn with any casual dress, skirt and blouse, and even pants or jumpers that were acceptable for home use. The most common wearers of Oxford Shoes were college girls. Paired with a plain skirt and white blouse you could be walking off the pages of 1940s yearbooks.

Oxford also came in solid colors. All women would wear these around the house, in the country, at work, and even for informal dances. They were certainly the most comfortable shoes for women in the 1940's.

1940s Fashion Books on Amazon

Get smart. Read these great books on 1940s fashion for more examples on 1940s style shoes.

1940's Reptile Low Wedge Shoes
1940's Reptile Low Wedge Shoes

1940s Wedge Heel Shoes

Wedgies were one way women could add extra height without wearing a "heeled" shoe. Heels were considered "dangerous" to walk in in the early 40's and were banned during the war years. Since wedges were flat soled they were acceptable wear and thus they became a fashion icon of he 40's. The shoe soles were made of cork or wood and they arched up to give lift to the heel without creating a gap in the sole.

Wedgies grew in style, and height as the war years ended. Combined with the styling of the pee toe, slingback, sandal, or pump and you could have a dozen different shoe designs.

They continue to be popular in fashion today, especially in the summer months.

1940's Style Pumps with Reptile Skin Patten
1940's Style Pumps with Reptile Skin Patten

1940's Womens Pumps

The term "pumps" was becoming common place as a way to describe 3 inch heel shoes with no strap and either a closed toe or peep toe. They are what started the trend of womens heeled shoes form from the 1940s on up to today. The difference between 40's pumps and modern shoes in mostly in the heel. Heels were "chunky," or "block like", or just "sturdy looking." The width and length of a heel was at least 2 inches around. Only a few late 40's pumps started to show a tapered heel.

The body of the shoes also encompassed more of the foot then modern designs. The leather (available after the 40's) wrapped up to the top of the foot leaving just enough room to put on the shoe. They were not entirely "slip on" and go like modern heels.

1940s Style Guide eBook

1940s Clothing, Shoes and Accessories Fashion Guide

Now that you know what 1940s shoes look like why not finding out about everything else 1940s fashion. The 1940s Style Guide:The Complete Illustrated Guide to 1940s Fashion for Women is a great resource for what clothes, shoes, undergarments, hats, and handbags were worn in the 1940s. It also has hairstyling and makeup tutorials, and links to hundreds of 1940s shopping sites. It's road map to dressing in 1940s clothing today. Check it out at

1940's Style Slingback Sandal
1940's Style Slingback Sandal

1940s Slingback Shoes and Sandals

In the mid to late 40's summer shoes were needed to be comfortable and breathable. After the war years sandals were introduced as the best solution. These combined low heels, multiple straps across the toe and a "slingback" strap around the heel. The slingback strap carried over into pumps and wedgies as a fashionable shoe variety.

1940's Peep Toe Wedge Shoes
1940's Peep Toe Wedge Shoes

1940s Peep Toe Shoes

By the late 1940s all conservatism from the war was gone. Shoe heels grew taller, leather became the primary material, and toes began to "peep" through. The peep toe style shoe is by far the most popular 1940s shoe today. Perhaps because they were first associated with "naughty" pin up girls or Hollywood bombshells.

Like tall heels, open toe shoes were banned for "safety reasons " during the war years. The peep toe provided such a small opening that they were easier to accept into society.

1940s Shoe Shopping Links

Now that you know what your looking for you can find 1940s style shoes in an local or online shoe store. Here are some of my favorites.

Remember: If you search for "1940's" shoes in these shops (except mine) then you wont get any results. No one labels there shoes for us 40's fans. So unfortunately you will have to look page by page until to see one of these styles I've mentioned above.

Tell me why you love 1940's Style Shoes

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    • profile image

      Betsy 3 years ago

      Where can I buy the shoes you have images of? Specifically the brown, double strap Mary Janes and the brown, faux crocodile wedges.

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I love Re-Mix brand for vintage style shoes!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago


    • meashman profile image

      meashman 5 years ago

      Some styles never go out of fashion.