10 Popular 1950’s Shoe Styles for Women

1950s shoes vintage womens

A Plethora of 1950s Shoes

Fashion in the 1950’s brought the world out of the conservative war years and into the dazzling 50’s. Dresses were bigger, accessories richer, hairstyles taller and shoes.…well plainer. With so much new emphasis on the rest of women’s fashion. 1950’s shoes 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.

The styles of 1950s shoes are varied but almost all come down to fitting into one of these popular silhouettes

1950’s Pumps

1950s womens shoes

1950’s Stiletto Heel Shoes

1950s heeled pumps shoes

1950’s Pumps

In the early 1950’s the stiletto heeled opera, court, and pump shoes were all the rage. 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 duration, and by fashion models.

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

50s kitten heel shoes

1950’s Kitten Heel

After trying to balance on tall heels most 1950’s 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 every day 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 Doll’s. 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.

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

1950s Slingback shoes

1950’s Slingback Sandals

Ballet Flats

ballet flats shoes

1950’s Ballet Flat

1950s ballet flat shoes

Lifestride Flatties, Saddle and Loafer Shoes

Another 1950’s 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. These featured very small heels of 1/2 inch or less 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. Audrey Hepburn was a forerunner of fashion in these basic “ballet shoes”  and women followed her every move.

Of all the flatties brands Capezio was the cream of the top. 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!

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 wrapped 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.)

1950’s Wedges

Beside the peep toe, the iconic shoe of the 1940s was the wedge or wedgie shoe. They were however equally popular in the 1950s too. 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. They were and still are a style that screams “vintage” or “retro” shoes!

1955 BH wedge shoes 1950s

1950’s Slippers and Mules

50's mule shoes

1950’s Sandal 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 sexy 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.

The most casual of all sandals was the rubber 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.

Oxford- Saddle Shoes

50s black and white shoes

Saddle Shoes

1950's saddle shoes black and white oxfords

Every 1950’s Girl Wore Saddle Shoes

Teenagers and house wives wore saddle shoes. These were black and white oxford shoes most associated with girls in felt poodle skirts. They were usually worn with a pair of bobby socks- white socks rolled or folded down 3 times. The soles and heels were black along with the center panel.

mens 1950s shoes

Nubuck Oxford 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 shoes was the clunky Joyce, which resemble nurses shoes or senior orthopedic shoes today. They also had to be kept perfectly white at all times. Bleaching laces, polishing leather, 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 girls 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 among 12-15 year olds.  Even women jumped on the trend with T strap evening shoes and sandals.

1950s teenagers shoes saddle shoes loafers

Teen Girls Wearing Saddle Shoes (L) and Penny Loafers (R)

Loafers

1950's Loafers and moccasins hoes

1955 Loafers and Mocs

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, casual enough to wear with bobby socks, and durable to last all year they were practically perfect. 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 used 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

1950’s Colorful House Shoes

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.

1950’s Style Shoes to Buy

1950s style shoes

1950s Shoes: Vintage and New Shoes

Many modern shoes have their roots in 1950s styles. A keen eye can find them almost anywhere. Here are some great choices to get you rocking back to the 1950s:

 

Meow's the Time Heel from ModCloth
 

Meow's the Time Heel from ModCloth

$64.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Kork-Ease - Deborah K561 (Women's) - Mimetico Full Grain Leather
 

Kork-Ease - Deborah K561 (Women's) - Mimetico Full Grain Leather

$154.95

Buy at: Shoebuy.com

Womens Bettie-05
 

Womens Bettie-05

$56.95

Buy at: ShiekhShoes.com

Proudly Posh Heel from ModCloth
 

Proudly Posh Heel from ModCloth

$59.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Aerosoles - Tempire State 1950s Ballet Wedge Shoes
 

Aerosoles - Tempire State 1950s Ballet Wedge Shoes

$49.99

Buy at: Shoebuy.com

Womens Bettie-16
 

Womens Bettie-16

$63.95

Buy at: ShiekhShoes.com

Womens Bettie-06
 

Womens Bettie-06

$56.95

Buy at: ShiekhShoes.com

Angel Steps(TM) Cynthia
 

Angel Steps(TM) Cynthia

$29.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Angel Steps(TM) Angela Pump
 

Angel Steps(TM) Angela Pump

$6.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Angel Steps(TM) Marilyn
 

Angel Steps(TM) Marilyn

$22.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Women's Rental Style Bowling Shoes
 

Women's Rental Style Bowling Shoes

$34.95

Buy at: Cruisin' USA

Touch Ups Joyce - Women's - Shoes - White
 

Touch Ups Joyce - Women's - Shoes - White

$84.95

Buy at: OnlineShoes.com

Women's Samantha Bow Flat
 

Women's Samantha Bow Flat

$29.99

Buy at: Payless ShoeSource

Glitter Skull Flattie - Black
 

Glitter Skull Flattie - Black

$36.99

Buy at: Heels

Ann Creek - Avanna Kitten Heel (Women's) - Wasabi
 

Ann Creek - Avanna Kitten Heel (Women's) - Wasabi

$61.95

Buy at: Shoebuy.com

Annie(R) Sassy
 

Annie(R) Sassy

$39.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Angel Steps(TM) Lola
 

Angel Steps(TM) Lola

$29.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Angel Steps(TM) Lana Pump
 

Angel Steps(TM) Lana Pump

$9.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Valley Lane(R) Abigail
 

Valley Lane(R) Abigail

$26.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

Impromptu and Posh Heel
 

Impromptu and Posh Heel

$34.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Talk of the Office Heel in Noir
 

Talk of the Office Heel in Noir

$34.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Zeal of Approval Heel
 

Zeal of Approval Heel

$42.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Shall We Dance? Flat in Sand
 

Shall We Dance? Flat in Sand

$49.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Ib
 

Ib

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Janis 2 - Blue Multi Pat
 

Janis 2 - Blue Multi Pat

$139.99

Buy at: Heels

Janis - Black Multi Fabric
 

Janis - Black Multi Fabric

$144.99

Buy at: Heels

Lillie 2 - Pink Multi Fabric
 

Lillie 2 - Pink Multi Fabric

$129.99

Buy at: Heels

Janis - Light Natural Texture
 

Janis - Light Natural Texture

$144.99

Buy at: Heels

Janis 2 - Black Multi Pat
 

Janis 2 - Black Multi Pat

$139.99

Buy at: Heels

Miz Mooz Pepper Beige Women's
 

Miz Mooz Pepper Beige Women's

$71.20

Buy at: PlanetShoes.com

Women's Janine Pointy Toe Pump
 

Women's Janine Pointy Toe Pump

$20.00

Buy at: Payless ShoeSource

Ann Creek - Retro Vivian (Women's) - White
 

Ann Creek - Retro Vivian (Women's) - White

$42.95

Buy at: Shoebuy.com

Madeline - Brown
 

Madeline - Brown

$59.99

Buy at: Heels

Sizzling Steps Heel in Red
 

Sizzling Steps Heel in Red

$64.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Soft Steps Heel
 

Soft Steps Heel

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Buster Brown Cotton Anklets Socks- Bobby Socks
 

Buster Brown Cotton Anklets Socks- Bobby Socks

$19.99

Buy at: Old Pueblo Traders

Tasteful Touch Flat
 

Tasteful Touch Flat

$34.99

Buy at: ModCloth

I'm Sew Excited Heel in Navy
 

I'm Sew Excited Heel in Navy

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Betsey Johnson Strutting in Satin Heel
 

Betsey Johnson Strutting in Satin Heel

$129.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Electrify Heel in Aegean
 

Electrify Heel in Aegean

$99.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Seychelles Women's Trip The Light Fantastic 2 Sandal Shoes (Seafoam Leather)
 

Seychelles Women's Trip The Light Fantastic 2 Sandal Shoes (Seafoam Leather)

$89.95

Buy at: Shoes.com

Seychelles Women's On The Floor Sandal Shoes (Black Leather)
 

Seychelles Women's On The Floor Sandal Shoes (Black Leather)

$79.96

Buy at: Shoes.com

Editorb
 

Editorb

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Miz Mooz Parvati Blue Women's
 

Miz Mooz Parvati Blue Women's

$55.20

Buy at: PlanetShoes.com

Miz Mooz Camille Red Women's
 

Miz Mooz Camille Red Women's

$55.20

Buy at: PlanetShoes.com

Lilly Pulitzer Kat Kitten Heel (Flutter Blue) High Heels
 

Lilly Pulitzer Kat Kitten Heel (Flutter Blue) High Heels

$198.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Ann Creek Women's 'Avanna' Kitten Heels
 

Ann Creek Women's 'Avanna' Kitten Heels

$49.56

Buy at: Overstock.com

BC Footwear Rebel (Leopard) Women's Flat Shoes
 

BC Footwear Rebel (Leopard) Women's Flat Shoes

$60.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

BC FOOTWEAR Women's Epiphany Shoes (Nude)
 

BC FOOTWEAR Women's Epiphany Shoes (Nude)

$19.99

Buy at: Shoes.com

BC FOOTWEAR Women's In A Nutshell Shoes (Teal Leather)
 

BC FOOTWEAR Women's In A Nutshell Shoes (Teal Leather)

$19.99

Buy at: Shoes.com

BC FOOTWEAR Women's Epiphany Shoes (Clover Green)
 

BC FOOTWEAR Women's Epiphany Shoes (Clover Green)

$19.99

Buy at: Shoes.com

Nina Forbes (Gold Royal Satin) Women's Slip-on Dress Shoes
 

Nina Forbes (Gold Royal Satin) Women's Slip-on Dress Shoes

$78.95

Buy at: Zappos.com

Women's Kasandre Pointed Kitten Heel
 

Women's Kasandre Pointed Kitten Heel

$24.99

Buy at: Payless ShoeSource

Peppy Planner Heel in Orange
 

Peppy Planner Heel in Orange

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Party Hostess Wedge in Cocoa
 

Party Hostess Wedge in Cocoa

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Sweet Style Ob
 

Sweet Style Ob

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Miz Mooz Phaedra (Black) Women's Flat Shoes
 

Miz Mooz Phaedra (Black) Women's Flat Shoes

$89.95

Buy at: Zappos.com

Aerosoles Women's Card Player Pump Shoes (Red Fabric)
 

Aerosoles Women's Card Player Pump Shoes (Red Fabric)

$68.99

Buy at: Famous Footwear

Lynn by Annie;
 

Lynn by Annie;

$7.47

Buy at: Old Pueblo Traders

Black & White Closed Toe Hansel Spectator Pumps
 

Black & White Closed Toe Hansel Spectator Pumps

$43.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

Johnston & Murphy Lani Bow Moc
 

Johnston & Murphy Lani Bow Moc

$39.99

Buy at: Johnston & Murphy

Johnston & Murphy Lani Bow Moc
 

Johnston & Murphy Lani Bow Moc

$39.99

Buy at: Johnston & Murphy

Calvin Klein Diema (Black Leather) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

Calvin Klein Diema (Black Leather) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$69.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Vaneli Birdine (Opal Pearl Nappa/Match Mesh) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

Vaneli Birdine (Opal Pearl Nappa/Match Mesh) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$145.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Vaneli Birdine (Black Mag Patent/Black Mesh) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

Vaneli Birdine (Black Mag Patent/Black Mesh) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$145.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

J. Renee Jadan (Dark Taupe Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

J. Renee Jadan (Dark Taupe Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$101.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

J. Renee Jadan (Savanna Gold Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

J. Renee Jadan (Savanna Gold Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$101.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

J. Renee Jadan (Black Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

J. Renee Jadan (Black Glimmer Satin) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$101.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Caparros Oracle (Black/Nude Lace) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes
 

Caparros Oracle (Black/Nude Lace) Women's 1-2 inch heel Shoes

$85.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Johnston & Murphy Brylee Bow Pump (Fawn Iguana/Suede) High Heels
 

Johnston & Murphy Brylee Bow Pump (Fawn Iguana/Suede) High Heels

$225.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Calvin Klein Evonna (Black) Women's Wedge Shoes
 

Calvin Klein Evonna (Black) Women's Wedge Shoes

$89.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Gentle Souls Lily Moon (Black) Women's Wedge Shoes
 

Gentle Souls Lily Moon (Black) Women's Wedge Shoes

$160.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Born Bristol (Cristal (Light Grey)/Latte (Cream)/Powder (Bone)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes
 

Born Bristol (Cristal (Light Grey)/Latte (Cream)/Powder (Bone)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes

$110.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Born Bristol (Skin (Light Tan)/Rose (Pink)/Latte (Cream)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes
 

Born Bristol (Skin (Light Tan)/Rose (Pink)/Latte (Cream)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes

$110.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Born Bristol (Castoro (Natural)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes
 

Born Bristol (Castoro (Natural)) Women's Lace up casual Shoes

$110.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Gabriella Rocha Indy (Grey Navy) High Heels
 

Gabriella Rocha Indy (Grey Navy) High Heels

$59.00

Buy at: Zappos.com

Women's Matilda T-Strap Pump
 

Women's Matilda T-Strap Pump

$19.00

Buy at: Payless ShoeSource

Aerosoles Benefit Black White Combo Women's
 

Aerosoles Benefit Black White Combo Women's

$89.00

Buy at: PlanetShoes.com

Aerosoles Benefit Navy Patent Women's
 

Aerosoles Benefit Navy Patent Women's

$89.00

Buy at: PlanetShoes.com

LifeStride Women's Sullivan Shoes (Black White)
 

LifeStride Women's Sullivan Shoes (Black White)

$39.99

Buy at: Famous Footwear

JELLYPOP Women's CHENEY Shoes (Black)
 

JELLYPOP Women's CHENEY Shoes (Black)

$29.99

Buy at: Famous Footwear

Refined Your Purpose Heel in Monochrome
 

Refined Your Purpose Heel in Monochrome

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Meet Me on the Parquet Heel
 

Meet Me on the Parquet Heel

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Be Bright There! Heel in Mint
 

Be Bright There! Heel in Mint

$74.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Slingback to the Basics Heel in Black
 

Slingback to the Basics Heel in Black

$34.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Step to the Rhythm Heel in Red
 

Step to the Rhythm Heel in Red

$55.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Step to the Rhythm Heel in Black
 

Step to the Rhythm Heel in Black

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Fashion School Sweetheart Heel in Noir
 

Fashion School Sweetheart Heel in Noir

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

Royal Marriage - Blue
 

Royal Marriage - Blue

$101.99

Buy at: Heels

Nina Electra
 

Nina Electra

$36.99

Buy at: Shoe Metro

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About Debbie Sessions

Debbie Sessions is passionate about wearing history through fashion. She and her husband, Oscar, have turned their hobby into a career by teaching others how to re-create vintage style with affordable new vintage inspired clothing and accessories. We connect shoppers to the best vintage inspired clothing, shoes and accessories and teach fashion history as it was worn by everyday people. Need more help? Contact us anytime.

One thought on “10 Popular 1950’s Shoe Styles for Women

  1. Ivy

    Enjoyed your post (as always), but a bit surprised that under the “mule” description you didn’t include a mention of “Spring-O-Lators,” which as I’m sure you know, featured an elastic band down the inside of the mule to keep the shoe on the foot when walking…It was a brilliant (and completely ’50s) concept (I have several pairs, and it works very well even today), and I’ve never been able to quite figure out why they went out of production as of the ’60s…I imagine it had to do with the possible high cost of inserting the extra piece or patent issues…

    Reply

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