Shoe and boot styles altered little for men, but a great deal for women, during the 1920s. For everyday occasions men continued to wear either plain or two-toned oxfords with rounded toes, sometimes with spats (linen or canvas shoe coverings) that covered their ankles and the tops of their shoes. As sports became more popular during the decade both men and women wore shoes made especially for sports, like the tennis shoes first popularized in the nineteenth century. Shoes with two colors and fringed tongue flaps became especially popular among men playing golf.
Women's shoe styles became much flashier between 1919 and 1929. As the decade began women wore many plain shoe styles, but one of the most popular was a high-buttoned, high-heeled shoe with a dark leather foot and a contrasting top made to fit closely against the ankle up to mid calf with many small buttons. Some shoes were fastened with as many as sixteen tiny buttons. But as the decade continued, women stopped shunning ornament because rationing and frugality were no longer needed to support World War I (1914–18). Shoe ornaments, including glittering bows, ruffles, and even bug-shaped pins, were sold to spruce up the old styles of shoes, which featured thick, one- or two-inch heels and laced or buttoned closures across the top of the foot. But as hemlines rose to the knee by mid-decade, fashion trends emphasized new shoes as important costume accessories. The most significant new shoe was the T-strap sandal, a style that made women's feet look daintier than older styles. Also shoes were no longer somber in color, as they had been during the war. Many were made with bright contrasting colors and decorated with beadwork, fringe, or painted designs. Some companies began to offer shoe dyeing services so that women could change the color of their shoes to match their outfits.
Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You?: A Walk Through the History of Footwear. New York: Walker and Co., 1996.
Pratt, Lucy, and Linda Woolley. Shoes. London, England: V&A Publications, 1999.