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1920s - 1960s Style and Fashion in Shoes For Men & Women

Updated on May 6, 2013

Evening Shoes From the 20's

Men's Spectator Shoes

1920's Fashion for Women

Many women today are fascinated with fashions from the 1920s. In the 1920s fashion for women was extravagant right down to the padded shoes. An arch strap, and a two inch heal were common in formal wear. The movies and the public were still very interested in royalty. The stars of 20's , Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and Pola Negri, tried to imitate what they were seeing Royal and high society people wearing. The look was highly sophisticated, yet conservative.

Although the 20's were time of major change in women's fashion, as far as cutting their hair short and wearing higher hemlines than ever before, there was still a softness in the textures that they favored. Many shoe styles from that period were made from satin.

Men's fashion of the 1920s was highly polished and detailed. The introduction of the modern spectator shoe was launched for men in the 20's. The style had been around since the 19th century, but it became hugely popular in the 20's and 30's. The spectator shoe is an oxford that is constructed from two contrasting colors, usually having the toe and heal darker than the body of the shoe.

Ladies 1930s Shoes

1930s Fashion

Lace up the front shes with the "spectator design" were the perfect compliment to wear with a long skirt and mini jacket in the 1930s. They were stylish and comfortable.

There was also a great interest in the art deco style in the 30's, from furniture to clothes. Straight lines, curved lines, and two tone were all the rage.

Jean Harlow Deco Shoes

Vintage Spectator Shoes

Take a look at the beautiful, elegant spectator shoes that Jean Harlow is wearing in the photo above. Spectator shoes were two tone, usually with the toe and heel being one color and the center of the shoe being white, however, there were variations such as these very high fashion ones that Jean is wearing.

Jean Harlow is pictured above with her new husband Paul Bern. Just two months after their wedding Paul Bern was found dead from an apparent suicide. Much speculation has surrounded the tragedy. For more on Harlow click Jean Harlow, Hollywood Goddess.


Ankle straps were made popular by Joan Crawford.

In the 1920s fashion for women consisted was influenced by royalty, in the 40s all eyes were on Hollywood. Royalty and High society were watching movies stars such as Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, and of course Joan Crawford to influence their wardrobes.

A three inch platform, or wedge sandal with an ankle strap will always be seen on stars such as Carmen Miranda, who's career was on the rise in the 40's.

Classic Spectators

This style of shoe was popular for thirty years, and made its influence on women's fashions. They are still popular among the highfalutin and those who are dressing up and in search of costumes from the 1920s. The spectator is truly a classic for all time.

1950s Shoes

In the 1950s shoes lost their backs. These are not easy to walk in. Some designers came up with an elastic strip that went inside the shoe and with each step the elastic would make the back of the shoe spring toward the ball of your foot. They called them springalators.


The pink and blue, pink and purple, or yellow and green designs were the rage. It was about being colorful and downright LOUD! My mother still has a pair of her pink and purple buckle down shoes. I can't call them a classic, but they are a sign of the times..


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    • Skarlet profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      @fpherj48-I have a shameful amount of shoes too, and can shoe shop at any time. I guess you just can't have enough shoes..

      @Angela-Haha, I bet you are not alone with your springalator fall. They are a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Loved this Hub as I'm a shoe freak. I particularly liked the "springolator" shoes -- and took one of the most spectacular and embarrassing falls of my life in a pair. Ah, the good 'ol days? Best/Sis

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Oh yes!! Shoes, shoes and more shoes. LOVE shoes.....and isn't it strange how many women are shoe fanatics??

      Even when not in the market for a pair.....I cannot pass by a shoe store without browsing.........which in turn, of course,.......means, I'm walking out with a purchase!!

      I won't even mention the number of shoes in my's outrageous.

      LOVE the 50's.....which have made a come back more than once! UP++

    • Skarlet profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Thank you jennzie:)

    • jennzie profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very interesting to see the different styles of the decades. Great hub!


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