Vintage Style Shoes of the 1940’s – A Shopping Guide

Shopping Guide in 1940’s vintage style shoes

1940's shoes - a vintage shopping guide
You may have already decided what color you wish in your retro or vintage style 1940s shoes and whether you need them for general wear, dress wear or sports. But as shoes of any genre differ in so many ways, you may wish to discover the key styles before you go shopping for that all important 1940’s fashion item !

Shop for Vintage Style Shoes at Royal Vintage Shoes for a gratifyingly large selection of vintage inspired shoes including flats, heels, pumps, wedges and sandals.


Most women think of the classic Mary Jane style shoe, but there’s a wealth of interesting names that no vintage fashionista should go without knowing!

1940’s Shoe Styles

Women’s shoes in the 1940’s were classified as oxfords, pumps, sandals,  and boots ( high shoes).

1940’s Oxfords were sturdy and desirable for general-purpose wear because they gave support to the arches and ankles.
Military oxfords were especially popular and serviceable.
Dress oxfords, commonly called ties, were used for dress occasions

1940's shoes - oxfords

1940’s Pumps appeared lighter in weight and provided less support than oxfords: many were suitable for wear on dress occasions and for shorter periods of time.

1940's shoes - pumps

1940’s Sandals could appear light or heavy and be worn for sports or evening, depending upon the styling and the materials.

1940's shoes - sandals

Vintage Style Heels

Heels were increasingly popular among women through the 1930’s and 1940’s and had various names to indicate their height and shape and to describe the material they were made from. For example, there were military heels, low and broad:
Cuban heels, medium in height and less broad than military heels:
Continental heels (thin Cuban); high Cuban or French.

Some heels were made of leather and others of wood, but covered in leather ( more common in the more meager dress code days of the second world war ).

A flat heel was very common, being the most practical, for home, school, or work.

1940's shoes

The toes of women’s shoes in 1940’s fashion were round or square, boxed or soft, open or closed. The type of shoe you wore made a big difference in how tall you looked or at least how long your legs appeared.
Shoes with broad instep straps made legs look shorter; low cut oxfords and pumps without ankle straps made legs look longer !

Visit Royal Vintage Shoes for instantly wearable vintage style shoes for women. The most authentic 1940’s era shoes we can find on the web today.


Just to finish off, I’ll bet you never heard of a Fluoroscope ! Shoe Fitting was a science those days, as were many aspects of a woman’s look.

1940s shoes - Fluoroscope for shoe fitting

The Fluoroscope for shoe fitting was seen in all shoe stores in the 1940’s. It consisted of a vertical wooden cabinet with a hole into which you placed your feet. When you looked through one of the three viewing ports you would see a fluorescent image of the bones of the feet and the outline of the shoes !

Also found this on Modern Mechanic – which highlights a shoe breaking in service for women. Now that’s service with an ouch !

1940s shoes - shoe fitting
Beautiful selection of vintage shoes collected by Shoe Icons

Let’s finish off with a quick perusal of some mouth watering ladies shoes from our favorite purveyor of truly authentic vintage style shoes Royal Vintage !

Marilyn 1940’s Pumps by Royal Vintage

Marilyn 1940s Pumps by Royal Vintage
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Sophisticated round toe pumps with original 1940’s heel will show off the curves of your legs.
Perfect for the hidden bombshell in you. Made from top quality leather.

Peggy 1940’s Spectator Pumps by Royal Vintage

Peggy 1940s Spectator Pumps by Royal Vintage
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Well ..these are truly quintessential 1940’s style shoes, made from all leather featuring a wingtip style in rich brown and white. They have a high vamp round toe and a genuine 1940’s Cuban heel. These beauties go with just about any vintage dress or skirt.

Nita 1940’s Ankle Strap Sandals by Royal Vintage

Nita 1940s Ankle Strap Sandals by Royal Vintage
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Comfortable stunning sandals for both day and evening wear. These are faithfully reproduced from original patterns

Dolores 1940’s Slingback Shoes by Royal Vintage

Dolores 1940s Slingback Shoes by Royal Vintage
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With sumptuous styling, adjustable straps and the cutest peep toes, these iconic 1940’s shoes named after Dolores del Rio are everything a vintage girl could ask for.

That’s all !

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7 thoughts on “Vintage Style Shoes of the 1940’s – A Shopping Guide”

  1. No no, don't say "even though i'm a guy" What is that supposed to mean.. Do you realize how many designers are male and i'm positive they all love fashion and see beauty in it or they wouldn't do it. Here is one for you, Are you aware of the clothing line *Victoria's Secret*?, There is no Victoria, it is a company owned and started by a man, haha. I think it is great that you can appreciate beauty, no matter what it is. My brother collects dolls..and loves flowers/plants– Have a great day, and yeah i have seen bits and pieces from the 1920's which i love, right now is the time to go crazy with retro, it is starting to catch on and i think it will be a big and long standing hit.

  2. I love fashion even though I'm a guy, but I love the shoe styles from the 30's especially. They are very cute…..and I wish they would bring back the eras from the 1910's to the 1940's in todays world

  3. Thank you for this wonderful guide to shoes from the 1940's! I was never quite sure what an Oxford was. And I love the names of the heels: Pyramid, Wedge, Cuban, French, Continental…

    Thanks for all the great research you do for our enjoyment!

  4. What a lovely post, so detailed! I have got a pair of t-bars I have worn to death. They might not be authentic, but they look like they would have been worn in the forties to me ;-)

  5. Ooh, shoes, my favorite topic! I love the fluoroscope – my dad remembers using that in the shoe store when he was young. And you listed all my favorite sources for vintage and repro shoes! Yay!

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