- High heels have been around for a long time and the popular styles have changed a lot.
- In the 1960s, it was popular to wear heels with buckles.
- Throughout the 1980s, many heels were made of satin or patent leather.
- In the 2010s, over-the-knee boots and heeled Chelsea boots were quite popular.
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High heels have been around for a very long time, and they likely aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
And although the type of shoe is truly evergreen, the popular styles of them change every year.
Here are what heels looked like the year you were born.
1920 – 1924: Buckle shoes were the big thing.
The Roaring Twenties were the first time skirts were short enough to actually show off shoes, so it’s no surprise that they started to get more stylish.
Buckle shoes were really trendy, as they feature small embellishments.
1925 – 1929: T-straps were super trendy.
One of the most popular heel trends of the 1920s were T-straps, referred to as “strap shoes” back in the day.
Strap shoes either had a single strap, a double-crisscrossed in an “X” pattern, or a double- or triple-strap straight across.
As the decade went on, these straps got thinner, and cutouts became popular.
1930s: Everyone was wearing low heels.
During the Great Depression (which primarily lasted from 1929 through the early 1930s), there was an emphasis on comfort over style, so while women were still wearing high heels, they weren’t wearing anything too outrageous.
Low, square heels were extremely popular, as were wide straps. Although T-straps continued to be popular for a few years, it was really low-heeled Oxfords that took off during this time.
1940-1945: Low wedges took over.
In the 1940s, wedges took the place of pumps. One reason was because of the restrictions placed on heel height due to leather rations – to get around that, cork-heeled wedges became popular.
1946 – 1950: Peep-toe shoes became more popular.
Up until around 1946, close-toed heels were the shoes every woman wore, partly because it was considered impractical to wear shoes that exposed your toes.
But after the war, all bets were off, and peep-toe shoes became all the rage.
1951: Ankle-strap heels were one way women showed off their femininity.
When the 1950s began, fashion got a little more exciting. One way to show that off was with ankle-strap heels, which became very popular in the early 1950s.
Lucille Ball wore a lot of tall ankle-strap heels and shoes throughout the early ’50s, and Marilyn Monroe was also photographed in strappy heels.
1955 – 1959: Feminine pumps with details were everywhere.
In the early 1950s, high heels were taller and strappier than they ever had been before.
As the decade progressed, things became a bit more demure. Pumps with delicate details, like bows, were especially trendy.
1960: Pointy-toed heels became the popular style.
In the late 1950s, pointy-toed heels started to become more popular and they really took off in the early 1960s.
1961: Kitten heels were the new tall heel.
Although taller heels had been extremely popular in the 1950s, women grew tired of them.
In the early 1960s, it was all about kitten heels, which were more comfortable and elegant back then. For example, actress Audrey Hepburn was one celebrity who made black kitten heels pretty famous.
1965: Mary Janes and T-straps were two of the biggest styles.
The early 1960s were all about Mary Jane styles, with the wide strap, the low and chunky heel, and the rounded toe. T-straps also made a comeback during this time.
1967: Buckle pumps and pilgrim pumps then took over.
In the mid-1960s, shoes became a little more embellished with buckles.
Celebrities were regularly photographed wearing buckle pump heels. Another popular style was pilgrim shoes, which had low heels and elegant buckles that looked more sophisticated than the name let on.
1968: Everyone was wearing socks with their heels.
In the late 1960s, celebrities like actress Natalie Wood were photographed wearing white knee socks with heels, and that quickly became a very popular style.
1969: Go-go boots defined the late 1960s.
Who could forget the popularity of go-go boots?
Althoughtechnically not always heels (many were flats, although they could be heeled as well), these tall, sleek boots in white or bright shades were a must-have.
1970: Horsebit shoes became the new buckle shoes.
In the early 1970s, horsebit pumps became more trendy than buckle pumps. Horsebit refers to the signature metal hardware on top of the shoe.
The style has actually seen a huge resurgence today with the popularity of Gucci loafers.
1971: Over-the-knee boots took the place of go-go boots.
Another 1970s’ style that has come back in recent years is knee-high heeled boots, or even heeled boots that went over the knee.
These were made popular by stars like Ali McGraw, an American actress and model.
1972: Platforms were everything.
The 1970s were known for platform heels.
In the early part of the decade, they totally took over in every form: clogs, sandals, heels, and boots. It was hard to find heels that didn’t feature the platform style.
1973: Slingbacks were a popular version of platforms.
One really trendy version of chunky platform heels were those featuring slingbacks, which were really trendy in the early 1970s.
1974: Men were even getting in on the platform trend as well.
Platforms were so huge in the 1970s that even guys wanted to get in on the fun. It wasn’t uncommon to see men wearing platforms throughout the early years of the decade.
1975: Block heels took over for kitten heels.
With the popularity of platforms, it isn’t exactly surprising that the kitten heel trend started to fade away. In its place came low block heels, especially popular with loafers.
1976: Everyone was wearing heeled clogs.
Aside from platforms, clogs are one of the most popular shoe trends from the 1970s.
They were funky-looking and usually involved a very high heel, some platform, and some more of a block heel.
1979: Wooden heels were really popular.
Throughout the decade, wooden heels became a huge trend, whether they were in the form of platforms, clogs, mules, wedges, or block heels.
1980: Chunky-heeled huarache-style shoes were worn by everyone.
Welcoming in the 1980s were shoes with chunky heels and huarache-style crisscrossed straps.
Sneakers were really the biggest shoe trend of this decade, but these heels were also pretty standard.
1981: Bright-coloured heels were the norm.
In the early 1980s, shoes got a little more colourful. Neon pumps were very popular, but so were bright-white heels.
1983: Peep-toe styles made a comeback.
In 1983, Vanessa Williams was photographed in peep-toe heels, which is just one example of how the vintage trend came back into style.
1984: White pumps with pantyhose were a very real thing.
White pumps and heels, in general, were really popular. Women weren’t only wearing them with dresses – they were also pairing them with pantyhose.
1985: Patent leather was the material of the decade.
Patent leather was huge in the 1980s in terms of both pants and, yes, heels.
1986: Satin was another big material.
Satin heels were another major trend in the 1980s, especially when looking for the perfect shoe to pair with bridesmaids’ dresses.
Bonus points if they came in outrageous colours.
1988: Heels became more embellished.
The 1980s were not a time of low-key style. High heels were embellished with rhinestones and much more.
1989: Dyeable heels were everything.
If you lived through the 1980s, it’s hard to forget the Dyables trend.
These were simple pumps that could be dyed to match your dress exactly, and they were the most popular shoes for any kind of formal event.
1990: Heels were supposed to match every outfit perfectly.
That trend of matching colours exactly made its way into the early part of the 1990s, when it wasn’t uncommon to wear black pumps with black tights.
1991: Everyone was wearing giant platform sandals.
Platforms made a big comeback in the 1990s, especially in the early part of the decade when the most coveted shoe style was platform sandals.
Even platform flip-flops were a thing.
1992: Dr. Martens were one of the trendiest shoes out there.
Although not technically a heel, Dr. Martens were such a huge look for the 1990s that it feels weird not to include them.
Plus, they were pretty giant and definitely lent some height. And over the years the shoe brand has also begun offering some styles that have heels.
1993: Chunky loafers were often worn with ankle socks.
Another popular style that seems to define the 1990s were chunky heeled loafers worn with little ankle socks.
1994: Steve Madden platform slip-ons were very trendy.
Who could forget the iconic Steve Madden platform/flatform sandals? The ultra-wide strap and comfortable material made these look casual or dressy, and are extremely 1990s.
1995: Mary Janes made a comeback.
In the mid-90s, Mary Jane style heels started to make a bit of a comeback.
This is best seen in movies like “Clueless,” where Cher constantly wore knee socks with heeled Mary Janes, a very popular during that decade.
1996: Single-sole heels were very trendy.
As Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik became more popular, so did single-sole heels.
1997: Huge platforms stuck around.
Thanks to musicians like The Spice Girls, huge platforms stuck around through the late 1990s. In fact, some were comically large.
1998: Fuzzy straps were a thing.
Partially thanks to Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City,” fuzzy-strapped heels were popular. They even sometimes came in platform flip-flop form.
1999: Everyone turned more toward strappier heels.
As the decade went on, high heels got a little more strappy. Two-strap heels were popular, as were spider heels (lots of straps crisscrossed on the foot that almost resemble a spider web).
2000: Square-toed kicks slid in as a trend.
The early 2000s are known for some questionable style moments, and square-toed slides are one example of that. Celebrities like musician Britney Spears were regularly seen wearing them on the red carpet.
2001: Criss-crossed strappy heels were still going strong.
The spider-heel trend stayed on through the early ’00s, showing up in all different versions of itself on celebrities on the red carpet, including Paris Hilton.
2002: Pointy-toed pumps were worn with everything.
Thankfully, the square-toe look didn’t stick around very long and, around 2002, pointy-toe heels made a huge comeback. Suddenly, they were everywhere.
2003: Manolos officially took over the fashion world.
Partially thanks to Carrie Bradshaw’s frequent wearing of them on “Sex and the City,” Manolo Blahniks were *the* shoe to wear in the early 2000s.
2004: Pointy-toed pumps were still going strong, and were often worn with boot-cut jeans.
Around this time, pointy-toed heels were often paired with very long boot-cut jeans, just peeking out the front.
2005: Toe-strap heels somehow took over.
Another questionable early 2000s trend were toe-strap heels. They literally had a strap that only went on one toe and were seen on the red carpet, worn by musicians like Britney Spears.
2006: It was all about wedges.
Around this year, wedges came back with a vengeance and were worn by basically everyone. They were more comfortable than some of the strappier heels that had been really popular.
2007: Anyone who could afford it was wearing YSL Tribute Sandals.
The “it” show of 2007 was the Yves Saint Laurent Tribute Sandal, a sexy Mary Jane-style heeled shoe with a stiletto heel rather than a platform or chunky heel.
Actresses like Julianne Moore even wore them on the red carpet.
2008: High T-straps came back.
In 2008, T-strap heels came back into style, but they were a bit different than they used to be. These T-strap shoes often featured a very high heel, usually a stiletto or platform.
2009: Christian Louboutin pretty much took over.
Around this time, Christian Louboutin took over the shoe world with his classic look: black pumps with a bright red sole. It felt like everyone was wearing them, and those who were not wished that they were.
2010: Ankle boots were seen on the streets and red carpets.
Heeled ankle boots essentially took over around this year. They could be more casual or more dressed up, but either way, everyone owned a pair.
2011: Espadrilles were very trendy.
The Kardashians helped make huge heeled espadrilles a big trend back in 2011. They were tons of different versions of them out there.
2012: You couldn’t step outside without seeing someone in a pair of wedge sneakers.
Who can forget the year when wedge sneakers were inescapable?
One of the most popular versions were the classic Isabel Marant wedge sneakers, which were often copied by cheaper brands. Everyone wore these until the trend was just exhausted.
2013: Valentino Rockstud became the it shoe of the year.
Once people got tired of wedge sneakers, they reached for the exact opposite: Valentino Rockstud heels, which completely took over the style world for celebrities and fashion bloggers.
These stiletto-heeled, caged sandals featured lots of “edgy” looking metallic studs.
2014: Lace-up heels became the new Rockstuds.
At some point in 2014, lace-up heels took over completely.
Suddenly, you couldn’t go on social media without seeing a photo of someone wearing stiletto heels featuring laces up half their calf.
2015: Heeled over-the-knee boots were huge.
Style bloggers did something different with footwear in 2015, and tall over-the-knee boots with a high heel became extremely popular.
2016: Perspex heels completely took over.
Around 2016, clear Perspex heels took over the style world, partially thanks to Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.
2017: Heeled mules made a comeback.
Mules were pretty popular in the 1970s and, in 2017, they came back with heels. It was hard to find anyone who didn’t have at least one pair.
2018: Chelsea boots with heels were a hit.
This time, the boots were popularly worn with a high heel and with added embellishments like studs or alligator-skin texture.
2019: Sock heels and boots were huge.
Although these shoes aren’t exactly great for your ankle and foot health, stars like Kylie Jenner helped popularise this type of shoe, which made it look like you had socks on over your high heels.
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