How popular were 1930s shoes for women? (1938)
Americans spend a billion dollars a year on 400 million pairs of shoes
Text from Life magazine – Feb 7, 1938
Of the 417,000,000 pairs of shoes sold in the U.S. last year, 172,000,000 pairs were women’s shoes, and 50% of them cost less than $3 a pair. Per capita consumption of women’s shoes in 1937 was 3.7 pairs, against 2.2 pairs for men and 2.4 for children.
Most women’s shoe styles originate in Europe. Top-notch U.S. designers adapt European styles to U.S. taste.
New designs sell first in the highest price brackets, from $16 up. Within three weeks, copies appear in the $3.98 to $10 price groups.
But profits in the shoe business come not from fancy new styles, but from accepted staples.
The chart shows the different styles in the different price classifications in such a way as to indicate how the styles are repeated in all groups. Note how the Valkyrie-front shoe in the first down column appears in all price classes from $2.98 (top) to $150 (bottom).
The most popular shoes in the U.S. are: first, the low and medium-heeled oxford (down columns 4 and 5): second. the strap sandal (down column 6), and third, the opera pump (down column 8).
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Extreme shoe styles from the ’30s
Extreme styles in women’s shoes are represented in the rectangle [below]. Only one woman in a thousand can afford these shoes.
The slipper (lower left) costs $150. Evening slipper (lower right) costs $38. Insignificant in volume, this group is of great style importance.
Notice how the evening-slipper pattern is repeated in the three price groups to the right. Likewise, thick-heeled sport shoe in column 2 ranges from $12.75 to $2.98 in the cheapest class.
Why women wear high heels can be understood by studying this high-style model which orthopedists deplore: High heels make the feet look shorter, and the ankles more slender.
Shoe sales statistics from the 1930s
Americans spend a billion dollars a year on shoes. In 1937, this sum bought them 417,000,000 pairs about three pairs per capita. Of this total, women got 172,000,000 pairs, men 103,000,000 pairs, children and infants 70,000,000 pairs.
Fan-shape, flared tongues and rosettes achieve stunning effects (1936)
Text from Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) August 17, 1936
Walter Winchell reports that women’s feet are one size larger than 10 years ago! Perhaps that’s the reason women have become so acutely “foot conscious.”
Never before hair there been so much ado — about what’s old and what’s new — in the shoe world!
We’ve news about shoes that will have. you literally kicking up your heels and dancing on your toes, Yes. we’re going to step “high, wide and handsome” this season!
Dame Fashion has put her best foot forward — and we discover that her shoe is MUCH HIGHER! The new heights are attained by means of fan-shaped flared tongues or rosettes of ruching.
The WIDER effect is achieved with our petite lady. And HANDSOME is scarcely the adjective to do justice to the intricate and subtle stitchings, shirrings. pipings and trimmings decorating fall footwear!
We’re “betting our boots” on BOOTIES as the season’s coming delight! These laced shoes reach just above the ankle giving comfort and support to weary feet or Leon Errol ankles!
They come in suede, stressing the new autumn colors and our old favorites, black, brown, gray and blue. The medium-low leather heels makes them so smart for sports costumes and tailored suits.
The watchword is “UNDERCOVER.” Gone are the peeping toes and exposed arches! Your feet must be completely covered — although a modified sandal is still accepted for the more formal afternoon ensemble.
Color – color everywhere! Port brown & Laurel green shoes (1939)
Exclusively smart shoes: Truly low-priced
Soft, Brown Kid perfectly styled. Dainty lizard-embossed One-Strap. Marcelle last. 1-3/4 inch, covered military heels. Seldom indeed is one able to buy such a remarkable combination of style and quality.
Cool cutouts in novel pattern heighten the summer appeal of these T-Strap Sandals. 1-3/4 inch, covered military heels and petite Marcelle last. Would cost elsewhere $4.50 to $5.00. Our price $3.69. Brown Kid/Patent Leather.
A brisk footline style: Featuring summer’s newest colors. Sea Sand kid with Mauve Beige tip, lace stay and heel foxing trim.
ALSO SEE: Vintage Dr Scholl’s Exercise Sandals & Toe Hugger shoes for women
This jaunty Three-Eyelet Oxford has Vanity last and 2-inch, covered military heels.
Francine Footwear: A new style favorite in the season’s best selling colors. Silver Kid Trim on the White, and Gold Kid Trim on the Putty Beige give them a most unusual style touch. Quality and workmanship is of the very best, and at our price of $4.00 you are saving at least $1.00.
Oxford Spectator: The 1-1/2 inch, low walking heel and rubber top lift plus Boulevard last are ideal for this mode. Perforations and contrasting leathers lend effective trimming.
Leading shoe styles for 1931
MORE: Retro ’60s shoes for women from the 1968 Wards catalog
Vintage black & white shoes for women from 1934
Vintage ’30s heels for women from 1934
Retro footwear fashion from 1934
FOR THE GENTS: Vintage 1930s suits: See 60+ old-fashioned menswear styles
7 successful shoes for important occasions (1936)
Opera Pump: Smooth, seamless, snug-fitting pump. Long-wearing leather sole. Covered heel. 2-1/2 inch spike heels. Colors: White calf – Patent – Black calf
Breezy Step: Perforations make it a success! A lovely, graceful, light and breezy seamless pump to wear with a sheer summer dress. Beautiful leathers—supple, smooth. soft. Leather sole. 2-in. Cuban heel. Colors: White and beige
Bow Knot: Popular because it’s a flatterer! Leather sole. Covered heel. Colors: Brown Kid, Black Kid, White Kid Pair
Colonial: The picturesque pump for romantic spring and summer fashions. Graceful .. . feminine! Soft black kidskin. Perforated leather tongue. Long wearing flexible leather sole. 2-inch covered Cuban heel.
Leather Contrast: Leather sole, 2-inch Cuban heel. Colors: White Nubuck, Brown Trimming — Brown Rough Leather, Plain Trim — Black Rough Leather, Plain Trim. Pair $1.98
Wide Buckle Straps: In our search for NEW STYLES, we found this prize! Leather sole. 2-inch covered heel. Colors: White Leather, Patent
Summer Ties: WHITE NUBUCK 4-Eye spectator tie with cool perforations. Stands high in summer fashions. Leather sole. 2-inch built-up Cuban heel.
Distinguished new fashions for women who love smart shoes
Kidskin shoes with leather soles — perforated — Cuban heels
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Sports shoes for women: Action footwear
White shoes for women: Details make them smart (1936)
DON’T MISS: Vintage shoe stores: See what shoe shopping really used to be like
Sleek vintage 1930s shoes for women from 1937
High-heeled shoes with straps (1937)
Straps: Find smart new ways to cross
Winged Suedes: You’ll never realize how gorgeous this shoe is until your foot’s inside! Wing-like front flatters the instep . . . patent leather follows the same becoming lines.
Young Square Toes: All occasion fashion-right favorite! Designed with the high front lines of a monk strap, the freedom of a sandal. Soft leather, perforations up the front … around the toes. Dependable leather sole. 1-1/2-inch square walking heel.
Doubly Smart: Double straps to add twice as much flattery to your foot! Copied faithfully from a higher-priced original, right down to the saddle stitching. Smooth leather. Leather sole. 2-inch Cuban heel.
Classic Beauties: One of the prettiest Monk straps in many a moon! You’ll love it. Young, different, definitely NEW. High-cut, with a seam right down center. A remarkable buy, too. Fine leather sole. 2-inch Cuban heel.
Patent Straps: An all ’round beauty . . . priced so moderately LOW! Suede, soft and lovely . . . styled high. Strap is stitched. Good leather sole. 2-1/4-inch Continental heel.
Suede and Patent: Suede Monk straps, to “dress up in” and live in! Take special note of the high, wide patent leather tongue with its raindrop perforations. Square toes. Durable leather sole. 1-1/2-inch walking heel.
ALSO SEE: Vintage ’60s flat shoes & fashionable low-heel footwear for women
Be lively and lovely in Vitality shoes (1938)
Vintage 1930s shoes for women from 1939
Camisole laced “Monks” – Walled last “Dutchies” – Crepe sole “square toes” – Classic “Saddles”
Juniors shoes for college-age girls of the ’30s (1939)
Borrowing that effervescent glow of carefree autumn, Sears College Shop shoes (for women and girls) are styled with such youth and optimism this season that they are twice as stimulating as ever before.
Following the new trend in styling — patterns are simple — with a certain flair that makes life seem much more fun when you are wearing them.
ALSO SEE: What every girl wanted: A cedar-lined Lane hope chest for linens and her trousseau
Dramalace: Four exciting new shoes qualified for success
To wear with clothes inspired by the lacy blouses and slim shirts of before-the-war fashions — Dramalace shoes combine the delicate charm of that earlier era with the well-bred simplicity that is today.
Burgundy high-heeled shoes (1939)
Glowing in rich wine-y depths to drench your wardrobe in color. Black, too… deep… smooth black.
NOW SEE THIS: Women’s shoes from the 1940s: Stylish high-heeled vintage footwear