Because the shorter skirts of the 1920s exposed more of women’s legs, American designers and consumers began to consider shoes and hosiery to be important fashion accessories. (2)

1920s Chorus Girls showing off their amazing legs and shoes.
1920s Chorus Girls showing off their amazing legs and shoes.

At the beginning of the decade, many shoes featured pointed toes and two-inch, curved “Louis” heels, broad one-and-three-quarter-inch “military” heels, or one-inch “walking” heels. Comfortable rubber sole and heels, introduced during Word War I, also steadily gained in popularity throughout the 1920s. (2)

This pair of cream, multi-strap shoes has toe and seam perforation on scalloped detailing, and dates to spring of 1924, photo by Vanity Fair
This pair of cream, multi-strap shoes has toe and seam perforation on scalloped detailing, and dates to spring of 1924, photo by Vanity Fair

As the decade progressed, women’s shoes with rounded toes and chunky, two-inch “Cuban” heels or, conversely, slender “spike” or “Spanish” heels became common. Dressy women’s shoes often featured a strap across the top of the foot- either one strap, two straps, three straps, cross straps, or T-straps – often made of brocade, satin, or some other delicate material. (2) Of all the styles available, a shoe with a strap fastened with a single button and a waisted heel became the most popular style worn during the 1920s. (1)

Jeanne Lanvin, 1924 - you can see here in detail a good example of fine brocades from this decade.
Jeanne Lanvin, 1924 – you can see here in detail a good example of fine brocades from this decade.

The straps buttoned on one side of the shoe, and fashionable button covers made of enamel, rhinestones, silver, gold, or brass added a little extra flair to otherwise simple shoes Not only were these strapped shoes fashionable, but they also prevented women from accidentally kicking them off during an exuberant performance of the Charleston or other high-stepping dance. (2)

A group of women dancers featuring shoes with a strap more suitable for dancing.
A group of women dancers featuring shoes with a strap more suitable for dancing.

A plain pump, nearly identical to those worn today, was also popular footwear choice. In the early 1920s, most women’s shoes were available in the conventional colours of brown, tan, black, white, or gray. As the decade wore on, however, women began to sport shoes in silver, gold, red, green, and other dramatic colours. (2)

Made from a variety of brocaded silks and exotic leathers, and often with decorative details such as heels embellished with paste tones, those shoes reflect the taste for luxurious fashion which culminated in the art déco style of the International Arts Exposition in Paris in 1925. (1)

Advertisement of the famous French heel manufacturer F.Weil.E.Petit & Cie - 1925
Advertisement of the famous French heel manufacturer F.Weil.E.Petit & Cie – 1925

In the 1920s, Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo was working in Hollywood and invented the metal arch support, which provided enough support for high-heeled shoes that the shoes no longer needed to be closed (the closed toe held the feet in the shoes), leading to the first true-high-heeled sandals. (3)

The influence of Paris was challenged by Hollywood in the inter-war period as the screen stars presented a type of glamour that people wanted to emulate. (1)

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years 1923–-1937 | International Center of Photography
Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years 1923–-1937 | International Center of Photography
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