Women’s Shoes: 1929 versus 1936

These are Foot Saver Shoes from a February 1929 ad in Delineator. Foot Saver Shoes emphasized comfort over high fashion, but these shoes are also chic; the dressy shoe on the bottom has a delicate strap and gracefully curved heel.

Nineteen thirties’ shoes from the same company look “clunky” to me. Their thick heels drop straight from the arch to the ground, and the shoe covers much more of the foot.

These dressy shoes (one of them trimmed with sequins) are also Foot Saver Shoes, from an ad in Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936. To me, they look thick and chunky, with high vamps guaranteed to make a woman’s legs look shorter and thick ankles look thicker.

I see a big difference between the fashionable shoes of 1929 — most of which seem graceful and beautiful to me — and the chunkier, more covered-up shoes of 1936.

Styles from an ad for Dorothy Dodd Shoes, Delineator, March 1929. How delicate they seem.

In March 1929, Delineator ran a fashion article (by Lucile Babcock) on Spring shoes, which featured these six shoes, from different manufacturers. The following quotations come from Babcock’s article.

Black patent leather pump from Laird-Schober. Delineator editorial on Spring Shoes, March 1929. For clocked stockings, click here.

“Patent leather is most successful when combined with lizard or kid in a monotone.”

Foot Saver walking pump in brown lizard and calfskin. Delineator, March 1929.

A Queen Quality pump decorated with  “sunburn beige” lizard. Delineator, March 1929.

“Water-snake and lizard are carried over for the spring session, and those lovely gray-beige tones which blend so well with frocks of beige, gray, blue or green are witnessed everywhere…. Kid-skin colors hold a brief for the sunburn vogue, and all tones of beige are important.” (Suntanned skin was just becoming chic in the late twenties.)

This natural linen [spectator] sport shoe has an embroidered toe and delicate leather trim. Delineator, March 1929.

“The fabric shoe, essentially a sports style, is very definitely on trial for its acceptance by smart women…. In its best aspects, the fabric shoe is the prefect final note of gaiety for the white costume.”

A slate blue kid afternoon pump by J. & T. Cousins. Delineator, March 1929.

“Two blues demand attention, a slate blue and a deep bright blue called “commander.’ ”

This “Frosted calf” pump by Garside is silvery gray, with an enameled [Art Deco] buckle. Delineator, March 1929.

“A new leather called “frosted calf,” with a lustrous surface, is seen in gray (a deeply beautiful gun-metal hue) in beige, brown and black.”

Coordinating stocking colors were recommended for each featured shoe. “So specialized is the hosiery situation with its complexion tints and sunburn hues that the wise woman saves time and effort by selecting her hose wardrobe at the same time that she makes her shoe decisions.” [1929]

Shoes and stockings are coordinated to the clothing in this Arch Preserver shoe ad, June 1929.


Stocking colors in this ad from October 1929 could match your gown, your shoes, or your skin tone.

By 1936, stocking colors were more natural, but still coordinated with shoes and/or clothes.

Arch Preserver shoes from April 1929. Delineator.

Foot Preserver shoe ad, March 1929. Delineator. The lace-up shoe on the bottom is similar to the “old lady shoes” of the 1930’s, shoes my grandmother still wore in the 1950’s.

The Foot Saver shoe at the top of the ad has a thick strap, but it’s trimmed with a fancy buckle and has a graceful curve on both sides of the heel. March 1929.

Arch Preserver shoe ad, Delineator, March 1929. Notice the high-vamped, Thirties-ish shoes worn by the model at left.

These shoes foreshadow the higher, chunkier shoes of the 1930’s, but the 1929 sport shoe (below at top left) still has thin, graceful trim.

Arch Preserver shoes ad, March 1929.

Speaking of sport shoes, this nineteen twenties’ ad for ZIP depilatory shows them worn with socks.

Sporty spectator shoes worn with diamond-patterned socks in a Zip depilatory ad, 1929.

In 1934 you could still buy Sandals (a Walk-Over brand) with straps almost as thin as 1920’s shoes:

Ad for Walk-Over Sandals shoes, December 1934. Delineator.

This ad for Rhythm Step shoes shows a delicate strapped shoe (top left) in 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

But the lace-up shoe in the same ad was more in line with mainstream fashion by then, with a high heel and high vamp  covering most of the foot.

I love the Twenties’-look shoes used in this 1936 Lux soap ad:

Thin-strapped shoes in a Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

But fashion is a tyrant. Did they look old-fashioned to the eyes of 1936?

Queen Quality Shoes from April 1936, WHC.

One more look at 1928:

Queen Quality shoe ad from 1928. There was a big difference between sport shoes and dress shoes, but there’s also a big difference between these 1920’s shoes and 1930’s shoes from the same company.

Here are oxfords from 1936 versus 1928:

Different heel, different vamp on two lace-up shoes from Queen Quality, 1936.

Three generations, 1937. Can you tell which are the young woman’s shoes and which are her grandmother’s? Pattern illustration, WHC.


Three generations of fashionable women, 1937. Were you able to match the shoes to their ages?

Mother, daughter, grandmother.






Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

6 responses to “Women’s Shoes: 1929 versus 1936

  1. Good quiz! I failed. I thought the grandmother’s shoes were the most stylish–maybe because they evoked the twenties. To me there is nothing more elegant than the t-strap 1920s shoes.

  2. Lots of oohs and aahs coming from a shoe-aholic, even with vintage styles.

  3. Denise

    Did the Great Depression have an influence? Maybe practical and long lasting became important.
    My fascination is fashion illustrations. Women’s calves seem to be longer than their thighs. This has always driven me crazy…

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