The Flapper shoes: a symbol of women’s empowerment

Just by looking at the flapper shoes from the Jazz era, you can you tell that a real revolution was taking place, empowering women at the beginning of the 20th century.

The post-war Roaring Twenties put a definite end to the strict Victorian era.

With the advent of World War I, women found themselves doing jobs that were before reserved only for men. In 1920, the suffragettes won the right for women to vote, and young girls embraced a new way of life and of course, of dressing. These empowered women were suddenly defying the old and rigid social rules, they were enrolling at colleges, wearing shorter skirts and even trousers, riding bicycles, driving cars, drinking, smoking and dancing until late hours in the new Jazz clubs, and for all that, they needed the right shoes, of course.

The Flapper shoes: a symbol of women's empowerment

These rebels called flapper girls, were crazy for footwear, more than ever before. With their shockingly shorter hems, they wanted to show off beautiful shoes that matched their garments and that were suitable for each activity; they had special dancing shoes, shoes for walking, for sports, even for swimming!

Comfort and beauty, but also practicality were essential for the modern and active woman. The most popular flapper shoes were the low-heel “Oxford”, which usually came in two colours and were for the everyday walking, and the elegant “Mary Jane” and the “T-strap”, often closed with decorative buckles. These shoes came in various materials, in all kinds of leather for sports and the outdoors, in satin, brocade or grosgrain, usually with embroideries, rhinestones and beads, for parties.

The Flapper shoes: a symbol of women's empowerment

Being the party-girls they were, the free-spirited flapper girls preferred extravagant shoes in silver or gold, often with Art Deco designs, to celebrate their new-found freedom. 

The industry of custom-made footwear had to adapt to such a bigger demand. Factories began to produce large quantities of shoes so that these modern girls would have many new designs available. 

And for this reason, every time you stand in awe in a shoe shop, trying to choose among the many fabulous and stylish shoes, you have the Flapper girls and their flapper shoes to thank!

Images courtesy of © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Shutterstock