The ad at left appeared in the Los Angeles Times on September 5, 1969. The shoes of this year — chunky and low-heeled, in colors like "antique brown," olive and navy, were considered sexy. Gwen of Sociological images notes:

It's a great example of how quickly fashion standards can change. Today I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of these shoes would be considered old-fashioned and wouldn't be marketed as sexy. Our ideas of what constitutes a "sexy" woman's shoe today includes a higher, thinner heel, meaning they're also in general less stable, harder to walk in, and worse for your feet than shoes with a chunky heel like these.

All of this is true. But we should also remember that in 1969, skirts were pretty short; these shoes were paired with a lot of leg. Check out this picture of Jane Birkin in 1968, or this "Young New Look" of 1969.

Still, compare the shoes of 1969 to what Donatella Versace — known for doing "sexy" — showed in Milan in September.


Or the perilous pumps seen on the runway of Nina Ricci in March.


While these high-fashion runway shoes aren't reflective of what the average woman wears on the streets, they do say something about what designers think is "sexy." And when asked to picture a "sexy shoe," chances are you think of a stiletto. It almost seems like today's shoes are an exaggerated version of "sexy;" stretching out the leg cartoonishly (forcing the breasts and butt out at the same time). 1969's shoes seemed less about contortions and more about… well, walking. Of course, in the '70s, blocky wooden platforms entered the picture, and ankles suffered.

Since fashion is cyclical, maybe in forty years, spindly Louboutins and Jimmy Choos will look terribly old-fashioned and decidedly not sexy.


As for these anthropomorphic Alexander McQueen heels, "sexy" isn't exactly an adjective I'd use.

Changing Fashion Standards: Sexy Shoes From 1969 [Sociological Images]

Earlier: Versace: Tough, Edgy, Sexy
Alexander McQueen: For The Futuristic Interplanetary Mutant Alien Queen In You
Have You Seen Nina Ricci's Stupefying Shoes?