I’ve written about my favourite fashion moments in classic rock and that post focussed on the clothes. This time though I want to look at shoes. Shoes were always something I had trouble with getting a vintage look for because I have big feet for 60s standards so I don’t own any shoes made before the 90s, also I don’t really like to buy any used shoes. But who says I can’t take inspiration from the decade and try my best to find stuff that has that same look? In this post, I’ll be sharing pictures of the best shoes in classic rock and talking about what makes these shoes so iconic.
Disclaimer: None of the pictures below are mine, they’re used for commentary and educational purposes so they. If they are yours, please send me an email so I can take them down or credit you. Thank you!
Beatle (Chelsea) Boots
The Beatle Boot is an essential for any 60s fashion enthusiast, especially mods. These were the precursor to men wearing heels again in the 70s. The Beatles didn’t just influence music, they also influenced fashion because who wouldn’t want to be like the coolest rock band on the planet? Beatle boots and Chelsea boots are a lot alike, but with the Beatle boots having a more pointed toe and a Cuban heel. The Beatles weren’t the only band to wear them. Other bands copied the look and you can see that in the photos above. They’re a practical and stylish shoe.
This style of shoes has its roots in the Victorian era with J. Sparks-Hall, Queen Victoria’s shoemaker, designing the first version of the Chelsea boot.
Clogs aren’t really known to be the most fashionable shoe, but in the 70s they were a fad and later on, variations on clogs were popular like platform clogs. In classic rock, clogs are pretty much associated with Brian May to the point that it’s a running joke in the Queen fandom. His wife Anita says that he has clogs in pretty much every colour.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
A more casual shoe, but rock stars would wear them too. They’re one of the most iconic shoes and even 100 years after they were introduced, they’re still in style. Converse were founded in 1908 in Massachusetts and in 1921, semi-professional basketball player Chuck Taylor joined as a salesman and suggested improvements for the Non-Skid shoe, which later became the Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the first celebrity-endorsed gym shoe. From the 20s until the 70s, the shoes were associated with basketball and the Olympics. Because of competition and poor decision making on the company’s end, Converse were not dominant among athletes, but they found popularity with musicians and creative types. If you look through pictures of people in the 60s and 70s, you’re sure to find at least a few people wearing Converse. Some classic rockers who wore Chucks include Robert Plant, Roger Taylor, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Slash, Joan Jett, George Harrison, and more! In recent years, Converse have made shoes with designs from various classic rock bands. I remember when the ones for The Who came out and I really badly wanted them, but never got them.
Doc Martens are a boot that are popular among skinheads, punks, hipsters, and mods. A doctor named Klaus Märtens invented the boot just after WWII after an ankle injury made the standard issue army boots uncomfortable to wear. He designed his own boot with soft leather and bouncing air cushioned soles made of tyres. The shoes were very popular among older women, who made up 80% of sales in the first decade (40s-50s) of Doc Martens. The shoes were at first only sold in Germany, but a British shoe manufacturer bought the patents so they could manufacture them in Britain and these were the ones that everyone knows and loves today, although manufacturing largely has shifted offshore. Some famous rock stars who wore Doc Martens include Elton John, The Clash, and Pete Townshend.
Another popular shoe among 70s/80s mod revivalists is called the Jam Shoe, popularised by you guessed it, Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton!
Moon Boots are a type of ski boot invented in Italy in the 70s and they’re a bit cheesy looking like any fad, not gonna lie, but Paul McCartney knows how to pull them off! Like the name suggests, the nylon boots were inspired by astronauts and the Moon landing. Moon Boots are still made today and cost $125.
Platforms are probably the first shoe you think of when you think of the 70s. Why wouldn’t you? They’re iconic and in my opinion way better looking and way more comfortable than stiletto heels – I could never walk in those. Platforms have been around for a while and had their origins in Ancient Greece and 15th century Venice. Centuries ago, platform shoes had practical use because the streets were dirty and you wanted to stay clean. In the 20th century, you would see platform shoes to some extent in the 1930s. Mae West would wear these special double decker heels to make her look like she was 5’8″.
Platform shoes started being worn as early as 1967 and people liked wearing them to nightclubs where they could be seen and show off their outfits. In the glam rock era, platform shoes would often have shapes of stars, planets, and moons on them and glitter too. In the 70s, people would wear all kinds of platforms: platform sandals to boots of all lengths. Musicians like Elton John loved to make statements with platforms and Stevie Nicks would wear them to look taller on stage. The Tubes would wear some really unique looking platform shoes.
Thigh High Boots
Just so happens that we’re doing this list in alphabetical order and I saved my favourite type of shoes for last. The 60s was a time of sexual liberation so people dressed more provocatively. It was the decade of mini skirts, dresses with cutouts, ditching the bra, and hippies running around naked at music festivals.
Anyway, the origin of the thigh high boots was centuries before it became popularised in the 60s. The ancestor of the thigh high boot was the 15th century riding boot and later on musketeers, pirates, and cavaliers would wear long boots. In the early 60s, fashion houses like Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent included thigh high boots as part of their collections. With the skirts getting shorter as the decade progressed, it only made sense for people to make statements with their shoes. Pierre Cardin popularised them in his 1968 futuristic/space age inspired collection. They remained popular in the early 70s thanks to glam rock and the shop Biba, where people would queue when they had a stock drop. Lengths range from just above the knee to near crotch length and all sorts of materials too: leather, suede, and PVC were the most popular.
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