Thursday, August 19, 2010

1940s Inspired Footwear Guide

Inspired by some of the comments on today's vintage outfit post, I decided to show off my black leather Delman platforms. I bought these in late 2007 from Zappos. I paid $180.00 USD. I know that is a steep price but these shoes are worth it! They are very vintage-looking, they go with many different looks, and they are comfortable.

All of the heels (and wedges) in my closet are modern-made. I have no 'real' 1940s heels but I do have two pairs of 40s and 50s vintage saddle oxfords. I would love to find a good condition pair of size 7, 1940s wedges/heels but most of what I find is usually cheaply priced but falling apart or shoes in pristine condition that cost over 200 USD. Since I cannot build a time machine and go back to 1942 to go shopping, I do what most girls do: I look for vintage-inspired shoes that are modern-made.

So, when shopping for 1940s-inspired shoes, here are some key characteristics that you need to look for:

1. A wedge heel (it can be low 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches all the way to 4 inches tall)
2. A thick, stacked, or "Cuban" type heel (usually 3, 4, or 5 inches tall)
3. A platform design
4. An open  toe or "peep toe" style
5. A slingback strap like the shoe above
6. An ankle strap
7. Cutouts (especially in the toe box area)
8. A bow on the vamp
9. Perforated leather or suede (i.e. small tiny holes throughout)
10. A slip-on oxford or lace-up shoe with a stacked heel
11. For wedges, the material can be leather, cork, woven straw, or braided rope

So, vintage girls, what am I forgetting? What characteristics are must for your 1940s-inspired footwear?


  1. I have a mix of vintage and modern shoes in my closet--I tend to wear my reproduction styles for day wear, and save my vintage shoes for special occasions/photo shoots, as a lot of my vintage shoes have become rather fragile as of late. I was lucky to find two pairs of Remix platforms on eBay recently (in black and green), and snapped up both for half price—I’ve been wearing the black pair quite a bit!

    For high heels I look for medium-width Cuban heels that are proportionate with a graceful curve (as opposed to a curvier Louis XV style), slingback or ankle-strap styles, with a small peeptoe or round “baby doll” style toe. I am usually drawn to smooth leather, suede, or canvas/linen styles, but I have a couple pairs of patent shoes that also work well with vintage looks. Interesting design features, such as cutouts or rosettes, are always a bonus (and vintage shoe clips work great for giving modern shoes even more vintage style!) Also, because I have fairly high insteps, I look for shows with medium-high vamps—these just fit my foot better. I’ve had good luck with finding modern lookalikes in the past couple of years—everything from a great late 30s oxford-style heel to wedges.

  2. Jitterbugdoll,

    I love Remix! I have only one pair of remix platform wedges in soft gold. They are so amazingly comfortable and so accurate when it comes to vintage styling. I found them on on sale. I could buy everything Remix makes but it would kill my wallet! I often check their site for sales.

    The shoe clip idea is really great! I forget about them. I found nice bunch of them listed on Esty from different sellers a while back but I did not get any. I think I got a pair of vintage cat eye sunglasses instead. I need to go on Etsy and look again for some clips.

    I am drawn to suede too! I am also drawn to velvet. I did see a pair of black patent Yves Saint Laurent heels at the Neiman in Vegas that were 40s-tastic! They were sandal-style with a t-strap and nice heel but when the sales associate told me they were 720 dollars, I cringed. There is no way I could ever warrant spending that much!

  3. Oh, I forgot about velvet too--one of my favorite pairs of shoes are black velvet baby doll pumps. So glam!

    I am a big fan of Rocket Originals wedges too, and I wish they would release a high heel line! Not that I actually need more shoes, mind you, but I sure to love to shop for 'em!

  4. Oh my stars, Jitterbugdoll! I just googled "Rocket Originals" and wow! Those wedges are gorgeous! I really like those "Esther" shoes! So awesome! I had no idea about that brand before. Thank you for sharing!

    As for velvet baby doll shoes, I once found a great pair on eBay but someone outbid me at the last minute. Rats! I need to keep looking.

  5. What a great post! I LOVE vintage shoes and am lucky enough to wear a size that they come in - of course the problem is, like you said, finding them in good condition. I've been lucky there too, I admit, and actually own a pair of 1940's navy suede peep toe platforms that belonged to my grandma - that fit me perfect. I would love to find some repros that are actually as comfortable to wear as the real thing (something about the heel placement, I think....) I can't wait to check out Remix and Rocket Originals! In the meantime I will continue to work on coming up with outfits worthy of the vintage shoes in my collection!


  6. Ah I was just going to say Rocket Originals! They are so good, I was always a fan of Remix, but love Rocket even more I think!

    I'm pretty lucky I have small feet and have always had lots of vintage shoes, however I have very flat feet so heels much less as they're not terribly comfortable for us with flat feet! I have a lot of wedges. I certainly have more repro shoes than I ever used to have and have some fabulous modern ones too. I keep saying I'm going to do a shoe post but haven't got round to it yet!