Saddle Shoes: The Two-Tone Classic That Took 40 Years To Get Popular

By | May 15, 2019

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Close-up of the feet of a student in a saddle shoes and a plaid skirt outside Oakland High School, Oakland, Calfornia, 1950. Source: (Photo by Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The classic black and white saddle shoes are a symbol of the 1950s bobby-soxers, but did you know that the icon footwear actually debuted in the 1920s? These shoes, adapted from a style popular among golfers of the 1910s, were intended for men. However, women quickly took to the shoe style because it was viewed as masculine and sporty—two things that 1920s women wanted to be. Although the saddle shoe enjoyed steady sales throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the shoe reached the pinnacle of its popularity. Let’s look at the rise of the iconic saddle shoe. 

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The 1920s

Men’s loafer of previous decades got a jazzy facelift in the 1920s. It was during this time that we see the emergence of wingtips and oxfords. The two-toned saddle shoe was supposed to be a crisp, stylish men’s shoe, but women found it more appealing. The Roaring Twenties was a time when women were pushing for more and more gender equality and were ridding themselves of what they viewed as shackles of prior feminine oppression. Women were wearing trousers, cutting their hair short, and binding their breasts to make them appear flat-chested. It only made sense that they should wear men’s footwear too.