284+ women’s retro shoes from the ’80s

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Shoes for women from the 1983 JC Penney catalog

So many shoe choices today: How to put your best foot forward (1983)

Shoes used to be so boring. No one worried about style. Thank goodness footwear has evolved from those drab, black lace shoes our great-grandmothers wore to the fashionable accessories they are today. In fact, the selection is so large, we could easily wear out the shoes we have on trying to go through each shoe store in a large mall.

We can select from spike heels, wedge heels, “flats,” pumps, penny loafers, moccasins and boat shoes, just to name a few.

Having such a wide range of styles and colors is what makes shoe shopping fun. And although husbands complain about the closet overflowing with shoes, wives always seem to think they need just one more pair.

With fall nearly here, now would be a good time to go through your closet and pitch the shoes that are worn or are out of style — like your clogs and platform sandals.

What you should have in that closet — if you want to be fashionable — is a pair of pumps. Local shoe retailers say this simple, classic design is definitely in.

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Retro women’s shoes from the ’80s

Click on any image below to see a larger version, and to browse this whole section of heels, pumps, sneakers, boots, flats and other women’s shoes from the 1983 JC Penney catalog, plus more from other women’s fashion magazines from the eighties!

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1980s retro women’s shoes: The power of the pumps

“Pumps have completely taken over this year,” says Ralph Nixon, supervisor for Weiss and Neuman Shoe Co., of which Barker’s Shoe Stores is a division. “They’re selling very well, especially among businesswomen.”

Steve Hayes, manager of the local Barker’s Shoes, says women are frequently asking for pumps.

“The biggest trend this fall is the tailored pumps. They’ll be the number one seller this year,” predicts Tom Mathew, owner of Dobbs and Mathew Bootery.

One reason the pump is making a comeback is because of its versatility, he explains. They can be worn with suits, skirts, dresses and slacks.

“They (women) like the tailoring and styling,” he adds. “Shoes reflect our clothes, and our clothes are tailored.”

Just as stylish this year are shoes sporting heels of medium height. Of course, high heels and flats will always sell, but there definitely is a demand for a two to two and one half inch heel, say local retailers.

Women’s retro shoes: Working women didn’t want high heels

Nixon believes the main reason his stores are selling more medium heels than high heels is because they’re the first choice of working women.

“There are more women in the business world now, and they don’t want to wear three-inch heels all day,” he says.

Adds Jerry Fulk, manager of Kinney Shoes, “Women are paying more attention to comfort now. A lot of people don’t want the real high heels.”

Gary Myers, manager of the Village Bootery, points out, however, that shoe designers are pushing the high heels once again. And although this trend may not show up in the Midwest right away, Myers believes it is the style for women wanting to be trendsetters.

High heels are nice to look at. But women who are on their feet much in a day will agree they are not very comfortable.

So when we switch to our casual slacks and jeans, we look for comfort. And it’s just this reason that topsiders (also called boat shoes) are selling so well.

Along with mocassins — a style rapidly gaining momentum — topsiders are the money-makers in casual shoes.

Topsiders would be a wise investment for someone looking for a shoe that will still be in style next year, notes Mathew. Even though the style has already been around for about four years, retailers don’t believe it’s a fad that will soon disappear.

“It’s been strong in every part of the country. It’s a basic, a classic shoe, like penny loafers,” he adds.

“I don’t think they’ve peaked yet,” says Mike Cline, manager of Nobil Shoes. This year his store is selling the style in the traditional brown, white suede and navy blue.

Fulk says people of all ages are buying topsiders. “It kind of grows on you. Someone may not like it one year, and the next year come in and buy a pair.”

For a fashionable, casual shoe a little more dressy than the topsider, there’s the penny loafer. These shoes were revived with the “preppy” look and sports slots for a shiny ’83 penny or leather tassels. Both styles are selling well, notes Fulk.

The colors to look for in shoes this season include gray, plum, taupe, black, teal, salmon and mauve. In topsiders, white suede is hot.

“Plum and teal are supposed to be the two outstanding colors this fall,” notes Nixon, adding, “But gray is still outselling plum and teal. Light gray for spring, and dark gray for fall.”

Whatever your taste in shoes, there is sure to be a shoe for you. The range of styles and colors is better than ever this season.

One New York fashion writer says the reason for this large selection is that shoes have become “the most important” fashion accessory. She adds, “Shoes are to the present generation what hats were to their mothers in the ’50s.”

– Article from The Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) – September 10, 1983

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