Women's Shoes

The new tailored suit, which was fashionable for women’s daywear, required new, more business like shoes. Heels became lower, broader, and more angular. Suede was accepted for use on sensible walking shoes.

Men's Shoes

Men’s shoes were sombre during the depression. Brown became increasingly popular, and even spectators or co-respondents were done in brown and tans.

Manufacture and Materials

The depression demanded conservative, long-wearing choices in clothing, and footwear followed the same trend. Colours were sombre, with blacks and browns being favoured by both men and women.

Dress

With the depression, the saucy, boyish flair of women’s clothing and the sleek look in men’s dress came to an end. The women’s clothing turned to a more conservative image. It is said that hemlines rise and fall with the economy. The Wall Street Crash sent daytime hemlines tumbling down to mid-calf. Elegance was understated, and opulence was out. No one wanted to look frivolous while the unemployed waited in lines at soup kitchens.

For men, this meant a less smooth, sleek line with more stress on squareness, bulk and padding, giving the male figure a boxy look.

The Thirties

The Great Depression beginning with the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was to effect millions of people throughout the Western world for a decade. In the days and months that followed that fateful day, the bubble of gaiety that had defined the twenties was ended, and a decade of hardship and depression followed.

Politically the decade of the 1930’s was filled with revolutions, invasions, dictatorships, and the final weakening of the League of Nations. The slide toward was ended with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, and the beginning of World War II.

Women's Shoes

Boots were exceedingly popular during the war. These were usually cloth topped and front laced. The new, comfortable footwear was far more suitable to factory work than the shoes worn previous to the war. Even shoes were wide toed, sturdy and comfortable.

Men's Shoes

Round and bulldog toes continued for men throughout the war and into the early twenties. Boots continued to be the predominant footwear, though only for casual occasions.

Manufacture and Materials

High lace up boots, with relatively low heels, make a comeback for women during the war – a suitable style for active women who had kept men's work going on the homefront. Wider, practical shapes prevailed throughout the war.

Dress

During the war, rationing led to the first major shortening of hemlines. Women wore more comfortable clothing in order to do the work in wartime factories. Though the mood was sombre, shoes became more colourful, and stockings became sheer and sexy. The clothing became slimmer, more natural, and the waist began to drop even before the war.

For men there was less change. There was a gradual removal of the formalities remaining from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Clothing became more casual, and there was a great demand for sporting clothes.

1914-1929

The First World War had a tremendous impact on the entire western world. The rationing of all goods that could be used for military purposes, as well as the drafting of huge numbers of men into the war effort, drastically altered the way of life. Women were called upon to replace men in the factories, giving them their own money for the first time. After the war, women could not be persuaded to go back to their old status, and soon gained the vote in most Western countries.