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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

High School Confidential: 1943

High School Confidential: 1943

October 1943. "Washington, D.C. Saddle shoes are still popular at Woodrow Wilson High School." Just add Frankie and stir. Medium-format nitrate negative by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

60 years in the saddle

I wore saddle shoes almost exclusively from age 2 (1949) until fifth grade. At first they were Balmoral style brown-and-white with white soles, gradually evolving into brown-and-white blucher styles in the mid-1950s, as this was the style generally marketed as a boy's shoe.

The last couple years I was the only boy wearing saddle shoes in my school, but I didn't care because I liked them. As a budding athlete I really never had a major problem with teasing or bullying.

During the fifth grade I suddenly decided that saddle shoes were "sissy" and spent a couple years wearing ordinary brown or black boys' shoes.

When clothes shopping with my mother before the start of 8th grade I spotted a pair of black-and-white saddles and for reasons unknown just had to have them. I'm sure they were located in the girls' section of the shoe store, but I didn't care. From then until high school graduation I always had a pair of black-and-white saddles, more often than not technically "girls' shoes." but so what. I wore them typically one or two times per week to school, and often for casual wear. Girls generally loved them, although only once did I actually date a girl at this time who was wearing saddle shoes as well.

During college (1965-1969) black-and-white saddles actually made a comeback and I was one of several guys who could be scene daily on campus wearing them. Curiously I never saw a single female wearing them.

Since that time I've worn them off and an continually, and at age 62 I'll wear them until the end. I've heard that people are buried without shoes, but I will have a special request.

If you can't find saddles, simply type "Muffys saddle shoes" into Google and have at it. I currently have twelve various pairs of saddle shoes, mostly purchased from Muffy's, and mostly marketed as "women's" shoes.

I've encountered a very few men in the past 10 years wearing saddle shoes, and actually a lesser number of women. The occasional little boy (e.g. Chief Justice John Roberts' son) is seen wearing saddle shoes as well.

Love them!!

Saddles

Love the originals. I wore them off all through school. I found an almost new tan and brown suede pair in a consignment shop but they were 1/2 size to small. They had orangy soles.

Black and whites

My high school girlfriend was required to wear black and white saddle shoes as part of her Catholic school uniform in San Diego in the 1960s. The girls called them "Squad Cars," and never in admiration.

It's all your fault

I wore black and whites in parochial school. Lived in brown and tan suede in high school, the cheerleaders wore brown and white but I was not of them. I've been stalking them online for a while now but couldn't make up my mind. Reading your comments and finding that I'm not alone pushed me over the edge. Yes, I clicked "Confirm Purchase." So if you see an old fat lady wearing saddle shoes, just remember that it's all your fault.

Saddle shoe fever 1972-3

When I was a freshman in high school in the winter and spring of 1972-73, there was a saddle shoe fever going on. I remember looking down once and seeing a sea of nothing but saddle shoes. I wore mine all that summer even with shorts. They were the best.

Esther!

This has got to be #1 on my Esther Bubley Hit Parade of photos!

Spalding Saddles

I started high school in the fall of 1949. I don't remember wearing saddles before that. I went to an all girls' private high school for my freshman year. Our uniform shoes were brown on brown saddles. For "dress" on special events, we wore white buck saddles. Later I attended a co-ed private school. The uniform rules were more lax for shoes. Most of us wore saddles, the traditional kind, white with brown saddle. It was de rigeur to wear "Spalding" brand saddles, with the pink eraser color soles.

During that time I had a pair of white with blue saddles (below).

Oh, and it was also mandatory for all those who were "in" to roll their bobby sox down to the ankles. Unfortunately I don't have a good photo of this fad.

Still in uniform

Saddle shoes are still part of parochial school uniforms, at least in southeastern PA.

Tterrace's Comment

A gem!

Sis has a face?

This is how my sister looked to me for about the first five years of my life.

And they became hip again in the 70s

I recall during 1978-1980 that these shoes were attempting to make a comeback and could be found at some shoe stores. At the request of my wife at that time, I purchased two pairs - the all leather brown/white style...and the brown/tan leather/suede style. They were pretty cool at the time and I would not hesitate to wear them today. Sort of new/oldschool for the more formal occasions when you might otherwise wear dumb loafers or traditional Oxfords. A timeless style that is never really Dorky...

Back in the saddle again

I hated the look of saddle shoes. My other shoes were buckle or slip-on. Saddle shoes had laces. Laces brought fights about the "adult" and "baby" techniques to tie the bow on the top. And if you didn't know how to tie yet, you had to keep going back to your mother or teacher because the bows came out.

Anything was preferable to lace-up shoes.

But the original lasts that saddle shoes were made from were incredibly supporting and comfortable. Imagine if your favorite Nike or Adidas (or whatever brand) running shoe were made of leather instead of nylon. That is how saddle shoes felt when you put them on.

I long for a genuine 1950's or early 1960's pair in my size.

The retro saddle shoes of the late 1960's and after that are made with lasts of their time--not the original 1950's lasts. They feel nothing like real saddle shoes. They only look like them.

I am glad that I got to have a few real saddle shoes in my kindergarten/early elementary school days. Mine had red plaid saddles with black leather on the rest of the shoe. They were not the iconic black and white. When I put them on I had happy feet. But they really were sooo ugly.

Maybe kids today will feel the way I feel about saddle shoes in 2059, when they think about Crocs.

For our first Valentine's

For our first Valentine's Day (1965), my husband sold his record collection to buy me a pair of saddle shoes. I don't have them anymore, but I still have him.

Love 'em

I love saddle shoes. If I could find a pair I'd wear 'em with pride, whether they're in style or not.

Hippy-dippy

Being born in the fifties I went through several versions of the saddle shoe for school and whatnot. But my favorite pair was a stack heel version with stars and moon cutouts on the black saddle part (1972). I'd just started college, and they were so cool with my bellbottoms. Think the style might come back? Never mind.

Saddle shoes in the SFV

Saddle shoes took a good while to finally go away, assuming they ever did -- they lasted in the San Fernando Valley into the very late '60s. The fashionable ones had to have thick reddish rubbery soles, however, not like the shoes in this pic.

Hippie-dippy '60s fashion came late to the Valley, which was really a different planet from greater L.A. in those days, but it got there -- by '71 or so we were all wearing Wallabees and love beads.

1963

I still wore saddle shoes in 1963 in a parochial school in Newark, NJ. We didn't consider them stylish, however.

 
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