While our tops and bottoms are getting progressively lighter and more cropped, our shoe sitch is staying thick and chunky. It's not our fault — with the wedge game so strong these days, we can't help but stay super grounded on this decades-old trend. "Wedges can be traced back to ancient Greece, but the modern wedge is commonly attributed to Salvatore Ferragamo, who developed them in the late 1930s," says fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms. "The League of Nations imposed sanctions on Italy following their invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 and that led to difficulties obtaining steel for Ferragamo's high heels." And, it was that sanction that led Ferragamo to use cork for his shoes — it was available, light, affordable, and easy to shape — and, thus, the wedge shoe was born.
The style was huge all throughout WWII, but it wasn't until the '70s that the chunkster made a massive comeback. "Nostalgia was particularly rampant during the periods of great social and cultural turmoil in the late 1960s, and there was a flourish of interest for earlier eras," says Helms. "People were collecting and wearing antique and vintage clothes, and it began to influence designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Terry de Havilland. Wedges could be built up to great heights and produced in an array of striking colors and materials, which made them ideal for many of the eye-catching fashion styles of the '70s, like glam and disco in particular," she adds. Plus, they were oh-so-comfy.
And, it seems like the wedge is having a moment once again in 2015 — but, this time the trend has evolved from typical cork soles into fresher iterations. "Wedges will never completely go away, because they're so comfortable in comparison to stilettos and other high heels," says Helms. "[These days,] contemporary designers are bringing a more geometric and angular form to the shoe." Ahead, check out what modern-day has to offer on this elevated trend.
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