In the 1920s, shoes became a more important fashion accessory as skirts got shorter and high step dances showed off footwear. "Louis" heels --- shoes with a thick curved heel that were prevalent in the early 1900s -- evolved to more slender-strapped shoes by the early 1920s. Men's footwear also changed, as high-top buttoned shoes or "spats" worn at the turn of the century were replaced by low-cut, laced shoes.
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Women's Shoes for Daytime
Leather round-toe shoes with a spiky heel were popular with many women in the 1920s, including the fashionable flappers. At the beginning of the decade, women wore neutral-coloured shoes for daytime Other popular colours were brown, black and grey. This changed at the end of 1920s as shoe designers began creating footwear in more dramatic colours such as red, green and gold. The popular silhouette of the 1920s was the single and T-strapped Mary Janes, youthful shoes with a low cut vamp and 1- to 2 1/2- inch heel --- depending on the style. Another trend included comfortable shoes with rubber sole heels that were produced around WWI and increased in popularity by the middle of the 1920s.
Women's Evening Shoes
One of the biggest differences between day and evening shoes was glamour, as formal shoes came in many bright shades and opulent fabrics to match an evening ensemble. The footwear was made out of brocade or satin with slender straps that buckled to secure the shoes during dancing. Decorative button covers added embellishment to evening footwear. These bejewelled accents were made of many shiny and glitz materials, including enamel, rhinestones, silver or gold and covered the shoe's button closure.
Men's Casual and Sports Shoes
For daytime, various versions of the brogue shoes were popular in the 1920s --- fashioned out of tan, brown or black leather. Brogues are still popular in contemporary men's fashion and include a variety of low-cut, low-heel laced shoes. The wingtip brogue was fashionable in the 1920s, with either a pointed or square toe. The distinguishing feature of the leather shoe is the perforated "M" design around the toe box. Another popular brogue style during that era, the derby shoes, had no embellishment. Canvas sporting shoes were worn with athletic wear. Therese were high-topped footwear that had rubber soles.
Men's Formal Shoes
The formal oxford worn for evening was a brogue shoe that featured closed lacing, meaning that the eyelets of the shoelaces were sewn underneath the vamp. In the 1920s, the material of choice for the mature man was shiny black patent leather. However, younger generations wore two-toned plain leather oxfords for evening in either black and white or brown and white. These flashy shoes were often worn for dancing as the footwear made a statement while doing the popular Charleston dance steps.
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- "The Collector's Book of Twentieth-century Fashion, Volume 1983, Part 2"; Frances Kennett; 1983
- "Fashion: The Key Concepts"; Jennifer Craik; 2009
- "The 1920s"; Kathleen Morgan Drowne, Patrick Huber; 2004
- "The Berg Companion to Fashion"; Valerie Steele; 2010
- "Shoes: What Every Woman Should Know"; Stephanie Pedersen; 2005
- "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through American History"; Amy T. Peterson, Ann T. Kellogg 2008