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The History of Saddle Shoes

Saddle shoes debuted in the 1920s. They were adapted from golf shoes and originally intended for men, but 1920s women looking to appear masculine and sporty quickly adopted the new style. During the Great Depression, manufacturers switched from using a combination of leather and rubber to using canvas and crepe rubber to make the shoes more affordable. During this time, the color scheme also expanded from just plain black-and-white to include both tan-and-white and blue-and-white options. In the 1940s, saddle shoes became a fad among teen girls, who wore them scuffed and dirty. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that saddle shoes reached their apex. Crisp, clean saddle shoes made with red rubber soles and worn with bobby socks became the top shoe trend among teen girls in the ’50s. It’s a little-known fact that because the shoes were so comfortable, housewives often wore them around the house while doing chores, too! (They would change back into their heels just before their husbands got home.) Because they were comfortable and featured slip-resistant rubber soles, saddle shoes were also worn by teen girls during gym class and for playing sports such as tennis, golf, and cheerleading. But the popularity of saddle shoes dropped dramatically in the 1960s as teen culture shifted from conformity to rebellion, and while they are sometimes worn in certain fashion subcultures, the shoes never again reached the same levels of mainstream popularity.

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