The History of Saddle Shoes

Posted: 09/03/2018 @ 11:26AM

A Ska and Mod favourite, the Saddle Shoe is the must-have women's footwear style for Summer! These three above styles are new in from GH Bass, the heritage American brand famous for the Bass Weejun loafer.

The Saddle Shoe is a classic American casual style, taking its name from the saddle-like shape of the piece of leather sewn across the waist of the shoe, usually in a contrasting 2-tone colour. Typically, a low heeled oxford shoe, this retro style has been worn by both men and women since it's inception in the early 20th century.


High School Cheerleaders wearing Saddle Shoes in 1948

The style was originally designed by sportswear manufacturer, Albert Spaulding in 1906, basing the style on a gym shoe and creating it in white leather. Spaulding added the saddle to the saddle shoe to reinforce it and add support and stability to the shoe. Spaulding envisioned the shoe as indoor athletes footwear, but it proved unpopular with serious athletes.

Nonetheless, the shoe was a hit with younger people who wore it as casual footwear and it became the shoe of choice for dancing the Jitterbug in the 1940s, but it was in the 1950s that the saddle shoe really took off.


Saddle shoes worn by men & women, c. 1950s

It's soar in popularity might have had something to do with it being worn by the king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, who wore the style in the movie, Jailhouse Rock as well as other places. Suddenly the saddle shoe was the must-have style for both men and women. The women's saddle shoe became inextricably linked with poodle skirts, the very flared, circle skirts of the 1950s worn with crinoline petticoats underneath. Paired with a poodle skirt and a cute pair of bobby socks, this is still an enduring image of 1950s American preppy and ivy league fashion.

It was also in the late fifties that the saddle shoe caught the eye of fans and musicians on the burgeoning Ska music scene. Typically in white and black, the saddle shoe's 2-tone colouring appealed and fit in with the Ska and Mod look.

For summer 2016, American footwear brand, GH Bass have brought out three tantalising new colours in women's saddle shoes. In Navy/White leather, Tan/Cream leather and an eye-catching red/earth suede, these comfy casual shoes are an essential for this season. Grab your favourite pair, pair with bobby socks and a gorgeous flared circle skirt and you're ready to go!

Shop Bass Saddle Shoes here.