Women's Shoe Styles of the 1960s


The 1960s saw in an increase in fashion and footwear consumption. According to the book “The 1950s and 1960s,” this buying trend was due to developments in media and manufacturing. Fashion magazines, movies and television were becoming increasingly popular and accessible, which gave the public more exposure to celebrity trends. Footwear also became more affordable with the rise of mass-manufacturing. As a result, new styles churned out to accommodate a lucrative period of consumer demand.

Kitten Heels

In contrast to the 1950s high heel stiletto, early 1960s fashion welcomed the shorter kitten heel. This demure shoe had a slender 1.5- to 2-inch heel. The kitten heel was originally worn by preteen girls as sort of a training heel, because they were less provocative and shorter than the “skyscraper” 3-inch stiletto, according to “The Berg Companion to Fashion.” However, due to the increase in podiatric problems associated with high heels, mature generations adopted the lower pointy-toe pump. The kitten heel was also glamorized on the silver screen by the actress Audrey Hepburn, which further fueled its popularity.

Psychedelic Pumps

Bright floral and paisleys were printed on many fashionable items in the 1960s and shoes were no exception. Bold pinks, turquoises and fuchsias swirled around each other to create a myriad of different patterns. Italian footwear designer Emilio Pucci made this trend exceptionally luxurious by translating his signature paisley pattern from silk scarves to slingback shoes. Paired with a capri pant, Pucci’s psychedelic-inspired heels were often worn by sophisticated socialites.

Go-go Boots

Boots made a comeback in the 1960s -- and none were more popular than the low-heeled go-go boot. Nancy Sinatra’s song “These Boots Where Made for Walking” exemplified this mid-1960s fashion movement that paired a white leather boot with a "postage-stamp" mini skirt. Originally calf- or knee-high, the go-go boot morphed towards the end of the decade to include plastic and thigh-high varieties.

Mod Platform Shoes

The mod fashion movement hit its height in the mid-1960s, bringing with it a clean and modern aesthetic. Though the original mod trend was a rebellion of the 1950s working-class style, by the 1960s the look was made mainstream by celebrities including the supermodel Twiggy and Sonny and Cher. The mod shoe look was a tall platform with a chunky, sometimes wedge heel. Bright colors or white shoes were the rage, and square or rounded toes replaced their pointy predecessors. Moreover, a 1-inch or higher platform made this shoe vastly different from the demure kitten heel that started the decade.

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  • “The 1950s and 1960s”; Anne Rooney; 2009
  • “Art of Shoe Making”; William Brown; 2007
  • “The Berg Companion to Fashion”; Valerie Steele; 2010
  • “Psychedelic Chic: Artistic Fashions of the Late 1960s & Early 1970s”; Roseann Ettinger; 1999
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