Shoe fashion, much like fashion in general, tends to follow trendsetting people in popular forms of cultural expression such as movies, television or music videos. The 1980s saw a wide variety of shoe fashions among women who were greatly influenced by popular film, television and music stars.
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With the 1983 release of the popular film "Valley Girl," women from countries throughout the world mimicked the style and attitude of the film's female protagonist, Deborah Foreman's Julie Richman. Of the many elements of Richman's wardrobe (headbands, leg warmers, miniskirts and so on), perhaps the most lasting and widely dispersed element were her high-heeled pumps. Pumps are slip-on shoes with no fasteners, buckles or straps. They were a fashion mainstay for many different situations, be it casual, formal or business.
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Originally designed by a German army doctor, Klaus Martens, Doc Martens became popular in 1970s Britain within the British skinhead subculture. In the 1980s, both men and women in British and American New Wave and punk subcultures wore Doc Martens as stylistic signifiers of their counterculture status. A modified leather boot with a cushioned air-sole, Doc Martens are identifiable by both their smooth, glossy leather exterior, as well as their patented bright-yellow sole stitching.
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In response to the ostentation and uncomfortableness of high-heeled pumps, many women in the 1980s wore brightly coloured, plastic flats commonly known as jellies. Identifiable as heelless, slip-on shoes with no fasteners, straps or buckles, jellies were typically brightly coloured, transparent PVC plastic, aptly named after their jellylike consistency. Though there is some debate as to the origin of jellies in the 1980s, it is widely agreed that they became popular in the early 1980s and remained so throughout the decade.
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Due in large part to the popularity of aerobic workout gurus such as Jane Fonda, as well as popular films such as "Dirty Dancing" and "Flashdance," the 1980s saw a significant rise in popularity for clothing normally associated with ballet performers and dancers. In addition to fashion trends such as baggy, wide-necked sweatshirts that hang over one shoulder, headbands and leg warmers, women in the 1980s often wore ballet flats as a form of casual, everyday footwear. Similar in look to jellies, ballet flats were typically made entirely from cloth, including their soles, making them both extremely thin and foot-hugging, as well as highly disintregratable.