Resources / Centuries and Decades / 1920s


The shoe design of the 20s was not the result of the gradual development in fashion. It was a total disruption of the former tradition, which has expressed itself in the riot of colors, textures and an abundance of decorative components. Vogue writes about footwear in 1921: " there is a certain tendency - to depart from the colors that would simply match clothes and to place a tone intentionally contrasting". The hem of a skirt has rapidly risen up to the knees - and even higher in the second half of the 20s, partly reflecting playful mood of the turbulent decade. The footwear now appeared in the center of attention.

An explosion of optimistic moods characterizes the 20s. The First World War was over, and everyone strived to forget as soon as possible the burdens and restrictions of wartime. New colors and fabrics have appeared in the market, and styles could be considerably varied each season. The fashion was not any more restricted to the elite, shops were full with new models, and anyone could join this fascinating game.

The footwear was required to be strong enough to sustain vigorous movements in beat with Charleston, shimmy and foxtrot. The modern "liberated" women put on high heels, had their hair cut a la garcon, smoked, spent time in dancing clubs, listened to jazz and drank level with men. Strap shoes with narrow toe and high Luis’s heel are considered to be the classical shoes of the 1920s. Pumps with T-straps and criss-cross straps have been also widespread.

Closer to the middle of the decade sandals make their step into the women’s wardrobe: they were put on with evening dresses as well as with clothes for of sports. Nobody was shocked any more with a sight of an open foot. Oriental motives were popular in beginning of the 20s, and closer to the middle of the decade art deko has introduced geometrical elements in shoe design.

Buckles were bigger again with daring and even shouting decorations with pearls and artificial crystals. From the middle of the decade the buckles began to lose the importance, and by the 30s became very small.

When by the end the 20s dancing fever has a little ceased, the shoes became lighter and more graceful, and colors were replaced for more dilute: beige, brown and grey tones began to prevail.

The new shoe companies have appeared and a lot of shoe shops have opened. Artisan shoe-makers were losing the battle to the machine-made production of footwear, as they could not compete at the new increasing speed. And still, alongside with development mass manufacture, attention to footwear also meant, that a shoemaker could show his talents and to become just as well known as the famous tailors - couturier. These were the years when I. Miller, Charles Jourdan, Salvatore Ferragamo and Andre Perugia started to work, glorifying themselves as makers of deluxe shoes.

The man's shoe fashion too aspired to become less formal. In 1924 Prince of Wales has made a sensation when he made a visit to the USA wearing suede boots. It was considered vulgar, as even brown boots would receive admonition from the point of view of the strict dress code. But by the end of the 20s white-brown "kombi", and later even black-and-white sports boots already did not seem suspicious to anyone. In 1929 dandies even ventured to appear in blue shoes.