Women's Shoes

Women’s shoes of the 1950’s were arched, sophisticated and cut away to reveal the maximum of the foot. These were perched atop narrow delicate heels that only diminished in width as the decade wore on.

Men's Shoes

Men’s shoes changed very little from the 1940’s to the end of the 1950’s. For mainstream men’s fashion,

Manufacture and Materials

Christian Dior began the Fifties’ New Look, bringing the fashion world back to Paris, but the Italians were a formidable force in shoe fashion. In Italy’s post-war boom, the shoe factories made many technical and design changes. The light, elegant

Dress

The fashion of the nineteen-fifties was dictated by the suit for both men and women. The shapes were simple, geometric and efficient. It was perhaps this fashion trend which encouraged the “beat generation” to challenge the whole way of life and dress. These youth savoured individuality, variety and the sensuous values in life.

The Fifties

Politically and socially the 1950s saw the United States embarked on a wave of anti-communism in all forms. The renewal of the values of daily life disrupted by the war had begun. The arms race was on, first with the invention of the hydrogen bomb, and later, with the race for space.

Socially, the 1950’s were a period of a return to family, home and business. In a new world of tension, instant communication, and massive increases in destructive technology, the Western world attempted to return to a world of capitalist competition and expansion.

Women's Shoes

The cork-soled, covered platform, and the wedge were high in fashion. However, during wartime the platform and the wedge were stripped of their covering, leaving the cork exposed.

Men's Shoes

By varying the type of leather used, the colour, and style detailing, the same type of shoes could be manufactured for either dress or casual wear.

Manufacture and Materials

Rationing was probably the biggest influence on wartime footwear in both the United States and Britain. The U.S. government conserved leather and limited shoes to six colours. Heel heights were fixed at one inch in the United States, and two inches in Britain. The fashion industry was told to promote styles that would remain in fashion, releasing factory space for wartime endeavours.

Dress

With the arrival of World War II, the influence of military and industrial uniforms had great influence over dress. The boxy lines of the military tunic, the emphasis on buttons, and the stress on straight lines were particularly apparent on women’s clothing during the war. Men’s civilian costumes often followed the general shape of military uniforms.

The Forties

The Nineteen forties were dominated by the war. With the invasion of Poland, the world began to change. It shortly became obvious that the war would engulf more of the world and last longer than World War I. Soon with the military power sweeping through Europe, the United States felt pressure to enter the war. With the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, the United States was thrust headlong into WWII, not just in Europe, but with the Japanese as well. During this period little thought was given to arts and culture and the normal politics of the time.