Are Saddle Oxfords In Style

Paul Gonzalez
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Developed in the 1900s, it took 50 years to reach movie star status in the 1950s, but it was always a wardrobe staple, experiencing only slight changes over half a century. 1922 white canvas with black leather saddle strap and heel back stay.

saddle haan cole oxfords leather williams brown chestnut shoes
(Source: www.lyst.com)


My usual fashion history sleuthing came up empty as to the origins of the saddle shoe design. Golfers, in particular, picked up on the two-tone color scheme and incorporated it with their uniforms starting around 1910 and lasting well beyond the ’20s and ’30s.

Men quickly diversified the two-tone combination into wingtips Oxfords and loafers. They replaced the simple saddle pattern with a swirl of two-tone colors.

Women, however, enjoyed the simplicity of the saddle design and embraced it much more than men. As with all things sporty in the 1920s, women were quick to take the men’s saddle shoe and wear it for themselves.

They required frequent cleaning and whitening of the white canvas material. Heels remained very low to keep with the ease of walking, running, or hiking.

The majority of clothing catalogs at the time targeted saddle shoes to women and girls equally. A more lady like Cuban heel was added to some women’s Oxfords to marry the common walking shoe with the casualness of the sporty saddle pattern.

saddle shoes shoe mens classic oxford oxfords navy dann tone womens wear clothing saddles brown seersucker male collection dress club
(Source: tweedlandthegentlemansclub.blogspot.com)

They were worn with sporty knits, housedresses, and men’s style knickers in the 1920s. 1922 Saddle Oxfords with Cuban heel, canvas body, rubber saddle, black laces.

1933 “Uppers of bleached and mercerized white duck with black fabric and rubber saddle strap. Only the Oxford style with taller heels used leather soles instead of rubber.

By the end of the 1930s, the Depression lessened and factories returned to making leather saddle shoes. Men were wearing two-tone shoes with business attire, and women with afternoon dresses and even suits.

Having worn them as girls, young teens still found them to be a style that was more youthful than most women’s shoes, such as the wedge or peep toe. With the war going on in the early ’40s, the “make do and mend” mentality applied to footwear for everyone.

1949 teens all wearing saddle shoes and bobby socks. Teens in the ’40s started the trend for saddle shoes and bobby socks.

saddle oxfords tone suede two tan brown
(Source: www.etsy.com)

Girls would spend an hour everyday cleaning and polishing shoes to perfection. Starting in Junior High, every girl and now boys had to wear saddle shoes.

On the weekends and in summers, they looked great with denim blue jeans, too. These teens were called “Bobbysoxers” because they always wore white socks with their saddle shoes.

In Baltimore, I either wore saddle shoes or a ballet type slipper. Comfortable to wear around the house yet too informal to be “proper,” housewives quickly changed into heels before their husbands came home.

It was a secret ritual women performed daily, yet their husbands never knew about it. In the mid 1950s, the “Bubble” saddle Oxford became common for a few years.

It was a slimmed down version of the chunkier saddle Oxford and often had a buckle across the back of the heel. You would think that after such a pop culture explosion of the saddle shoe in the 1950s, the style would be outdated by the 1960s.

saddle oxford shoes florsheim 1950s oxfords mens midtown zappos wing bass leather
(Source: www.zappos.com)

Girls, boys and young teens continued to wear the shoes as their daily uniform. Many schools actually made saddle shoes part of the dress code well into the 1990s.

The mod generation embraced two-tone color blocking into fashion, but not the saddle shoe. 1961 white sole saddle shoes (r), black with white piping (m) and low profile flats with a hint of the saddle shoe design.

That’s why saddle shoes are a great addition to vintage costumes or outfits for themed parties. If you’re looking for some inspiration to strut your stuff with a vintage twist, read on for a look at five saddle shoes outfits you’ll love.

Pair a leather jacket and some Rider jeans with your saddle shoes for a sexy get-up that’s sure to woo the guys and inspire the gals. Saddle shoes can easily be paired with pantyhose, without any froufrou additions that risk ripping your hosiery.

Pair the adorable additions with some slimming trousers or skinny jeans, an untucked button down, and a blazer for a sleek, modern look with a tasteful homage to retro-wear. Fearlessly pair your shoes with a vibrant cardigan to stand out, or stick to pastel basics for a subtle nod to retro fashion.

oxfords saddle suede bloomingdale mens
(Source: www1.bloomingdales.com)

The classic black and white saddle shoe is an icon of the 1950s, although it started before the 1920s and remained popular until the 1970s. Both men and women wore vintage saddle shoes with sporty casual looks.

In the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, brown and white saddle shoes were the preferred color combination. Not just for women, men’s saddle shoes were worn to school or with casual outfits.

True to vintage style, the two-tone combination was also seen on boots, loafers, pumps and even flat shoes. The iconic saddle oxford has made its way into the design books of Laszlo Mass shoes.

Neither being here nor there on the suede vs. buck, it is good to see the saddle oxford being introduced into their line as I have always personally been a big fan of this model. I prefer mine to be on a more sleek last but have always appreciated the classic last used, a more voluminously rounded one as you can see in their version.

Upper options: Prices will vary depending on leather chosen and sole. Kangaroo leather has more texture and markings, the skin is strong, but it’s also very fine in thickness.

saddle oxfords bostonian
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Yearling has similar body to bovine leather, but has a smoother grain and a more polished finish. Yearling and bovine are our preferred choices for regular wear.

Baby calf leather is like the cashmere of leather and the choice for high gloss potential, formal occasions and infrequent wear. Lead times can be found in our footer below for leather goods and footwear.

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