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. They were worn with sporty knits, housedresses, and men’s style knickers in the 1920s.
1933 “Uppers of bleached and mercerized white duck with black fabric and rubber saddle strap. Blue and white canvas saddle shoes became the new trendy shoes to wear.
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.
Teens and skirts, bobby socks and dingy saddle shoes Teens in the ’40s started the trend for saddle shoes and bobby socks.
The dirty shoes trend ended, and the latest craze was for red rubber soles and spotless “just like new” saddle shoes. 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. “Bobby socks are a fun and comfortable way to ‘girly up’ masculine footwear like brogues or saddle shoes.
The socks are generally ankle length and white with a lace upper that folds over, sometimes with a ribbon bow to add a decorative element to a plain shoe.”- Queens of Vintage, “How to be a Bobby Boxer” 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.
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.
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. There will always be saddle shoes for 1950s costumes and men’s shoes never did lose the saddle from their line (although just in dark colors, rarely a re-run of the black and white combination).
In the pictures, by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing: the 1950s Handmade skirt,1940s inspired blouse from House of Foxy. In 1906 A.G. Scalding, the American sporting goods company, introduced saddle shoes as athletic footwear.
During the 1920s and 1930s when sports such as golf and tennis gained enormous popularity with the middle classes on both sides of the pond, there was a need for a more relaxed approach to clothing. Sport shoes and clothing are popular because they spell ease and freedom of movement and in name associate themselves with luxury and relaxation from the daily grind.
In the 1930s the white shoes with contrasting black leather saddle became such a huge hit among American University students, both male and female, that they were immortalized on the June 1937 cover of “Life” magazine. This can, at least in part, be attributed to some of the biggest names in the music and film industry; Elvis Presley, Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, who were fans of that particular style of footwear.
Teenagers often wore these two-tone shoes with white bobby socks, full circle or a pencil skirt or blue jeans. Truth be told, they were shoes for any occasion and looked great paired with any garment imaginable.
The sales of saddle shoes dropped in the 1960s although they continued to be worn by young students and teenagers as part of their daily uniform. In recent years saddle shoes came back into favor thanks to the revival of TV shows such as Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls.
The hugely successful film Stoker (2013) starring Mia Wasikowska also helped to put the shoes back on the fashion map. Mia Wasikowska as India in Stoker (2013) As you can see, the shoes look great paired with a simple black dress.
The shoes look fantastic paired with a plaid skirt and a pale pink long-sleeve sweater. Vintage style with a modern twist is how I would describe their glorious saddle shoes, which make them the ideal footwear.
The brand’s signature pointed-toe sneakers are incredibly comfortable due to their shock absorbable insoles. I'm the founder of It's Beyond My Control blog and I would like to welcome You to my razzle-dazzle world of vintage fashion with a modern twist.
Our team of expert testers have ridden a huge range of different saddles, in various shapes and sizes, and we’ve assembled a list of what we think are the most comfortable bike seats for road cycling. While this might not quite be a substitute for personal testing, this guide should help you narrow down your choices and enable you to make a more informed decision for your next purchase.
Fabric Line-S Elite Flat: £60 / €80 / $80 Argon SR Pro: £120 / $130 Fabric Scoop Pro: £130 / €170 / $180 Fiji Tempo Argo R3: £130 / €140 / $150 Specialized Power Expert: £105 / €130 / $160 Sell Italy Nous Boost Kit Carbonic Super flow: £220 / €240 / $300 Specialized Power Pro Easton: £190 / €240 / $275 Toga Undercover Stratum: £170 Outrage Aeolus Elite: £90 / €100 / $150 Fiji Ali ante R1 Open: £165 / €179 / $199 Fiji Ali ante R1 Versus Eve: £190 / €210 / $199 Fiji Luce R5: £90 / €99 / $99 PROLOG Dimension Back: £200 / €195 PROLOG Dimension NDR Tirol CPC: £165 / €159 PROLOG Scratch M5: £120 / €135 Scion Élan: £180 / €199 Sell Italy SLR Boost TM: £120 / €140 / $170 Specialized Power Arc Pro: £175 / $225 Synchros Torino 1.0: £135 / €164 The idea behind the Line-S is to create a saddle that’s comfortable by reducing the pressure on soft tissue when holding an aggressive ride position.
Comfort and performance is a match for much more costly saddles, and there’s even a choice of widths (145 mm or 155 mm) meaning more people will be able to find a suitable fit. At 261 mm in length, it’s also a centimeter or two longer than some ‘short’ saddles, but it still worked very well for our tester when riding in aggressive positions.
£130 / €170 / $180 Comfortable traditionally shaped saddle Range of profiles to suit different positions Its 282 mm length allows plenty of room to move around and it’s well priced considering it has carbon rails that help keep weight down.
It’s traditionally shaped, with no pressure relieving channel, but we didn’t find this affected performance, however, it’s a very comfortable saddle. The Tempo Argo is Fiji’s new, slightly longer short-nosed saddle aimed at endurance riders.
A short nosed saddle with a generous cut out and a touch of extra length, the Tempo Argo is aimed at endurance riders. It has firm, supportive padding that’s slightly thicker than Fiji’s race saddles, which is great for soaking up road vibrations.
Our tester found it offered excellent comfort levels and had enough flex in the wings to allow for natural movement. Sell Italy’s Nous Boost Kit Carbonic Super flow saddle.
Thanks to Sell Italy’s ID-match fit system, our tester was able to quickly find the right size, and if you can’t quite stomach the price of this top of the range model, the Nous Boost starts at a more affordable £79.99 / $109.99 / €89.90. One of the initiators of the short saddle trend, the Power Expert is stubby, wide and has a deep central cut out.
It’s all designed to relieve pressure on soft tissue, and therefore make riding in aggressive positions more comfortable. Clearly proud of its saddle, Specialized’s designers opted for a blatant callout of the Easton material.
Well the price is pretty high and the looks aren’t our favorite, but if those things don’t bother you, this could be the last saddle you’ll ever buy. The Toga Undercover Stratum saddle uses a web-like shell covered in a thin X-Pad SL closed-cell EVA foam.
The Aeolus Elite is a short saddle with an up swept rear and a very generous cut out, designed for competitive riders of any gender. Our female tester found it provided a very comfortable platform, especially when riding in aggressive positions.
At just 196g, the carbon railed version is also reasonably lightweight, making it the perfect addition to a race bike. The Ali ante R1 Eve differs from the Open version by having a more flexible carbon hull and more generous padding.
It’s designed to be the ideal Ali ante for endurance riders, but we found it was also very good if you spend a lot of time hammering away in the drops, sitting forward on the nose of the saddle. There, the generous padding and channel help relieve pressure on your soft tissue, but still offer a stable platform to put the power down.
£90 / €99 / $99 Women’s specific design Narrow nose and traditional length Choice of widths The Luce R5 is a women’s-specific saddle with a long, 280 mm length and flexible wings to prevent thigh rub.
At 157.6g, the PROLOG Dimension Back is one of the lightest short saddles we’ve tested. Like the Specialized Power saddle, it has a large pressure-relief channel, with high density padding and a stepped nose that makes riding in an aggressive position very comfortable.
The PROLOG Dimension NDR Tirol CPC uses carbon fiber for its hull construction, with varying degrees of thickness for targeted stiffness and flexibility across the saddle. (perineal area system) channel and NDR high-density padding, makes it a supremely comfortable saddle.
The tiny volcano-shaped rubberized tubes offer phenomenal grip in both wet and dry conditions, and keep you firmly planted in the right place. Provided this suits your sit bones it means there’s little chance of anything rubbing your thighs and though there’s no cut out, the padding is strategically applied to minimize soft tissue pressure.
The padding is very generous, and this combined with a large, central cutout and flexible hull means it’s a supremely comfortable saddle. Following modern trends, Sell Italy’s SLR Boost TM is a little shorter and wider than it was previously.
The central channel is also very shallow, but it works much better than its appearance suggests, making for a supportive, comfortable saddle, even when tucked down in an aero position. The Specialized Power Arc Pro features a more curved Body Geometry shape.
Our tester found it to be a very comfortable racing saddle, with the large, central cut-out providing excellent pressure relief. At 248 mm long and 135 mm wide, it’s slightly longer and narrower than other short saddles, such as the Specialized Power, but the flat profile, large cut-out and plush padding make this a very comfortable perch nevertheless.
As expected for a saddle of this price, the base and rails are both carbon, and there are hidden mounting bolts for a range of accessories. Unlike most saddles, the cover is replaceable, meaning you can swap it for a different color or padding level if the stock build isn’t quite right (though this would come at an additional cost).
The Latest deals It’s an unfortunate fact that most road saddles are designed with male anatomy in mind by default. That’s not to say that a saddle designed for men can’t work for women too, but the realities of biology mean fit requirements are likely to be somewhat different.
Long, curved shapes such as the Sell San Marco Concord were the hot item through the eighties and nineties, then we had long and flat like the Fiji Ariane in the 2000s, and more recently the trend has been for short and wide, such as the Specialized Power. Personal preference will always play a big role, so ideally you want to be able to try out saddles of different shapes before you commit to anything.
You can of course go it alone, but the trial and error process can get expensive very quickly unless you beg, borrow and steal from your riding buddies. These saddles tend to feature more radical shapes and designs, all with the intention of maximizing soft tissue pressure relief while in an aggressive riding position.
Specialized, for example, offers an in-store method of measuring the distance between your sit bones and determining the ‘correct’ width saddle you require. As already mentioned, the current trend is for shorter saddles that aim to fix you in a single position (i.e. with the pressure on your sit bones) while you ride.
This doesn’t work for everyone though, and there are many who prefer the extra room to move around that a longer saddle provides. Longer saddles offer the opportunity to shift your weight around, rather than keep it concentrated in one place for the duration of your ride.
This sounds great in principle, but if you’re finding that you just can’t get comfortable on any saddle, and need extra length to move around and constantly relieve the pressure on your undercarriage, there may be other fit issues at play, such as excessive saddle to bar drop. That said, most saddles do incorporate some sort of padding as a method of protecting against vibrations and bumps in the road.
Generally speaking, though, we would tend to recommend harder padding for road cycling because a saddle that’s too soft can often lead to an inconsistent fit over the course of a long ride. If you’re finding pressure building up in specific areas, more often than not it’s a problem with shape or width, rather than a lack of padding.
Again, we’ll have to caveat this by saying that everyone is, of course, different and that a good bike fit is often the best way of targeting any specific issues you’re having.