Men’s shoes at the turn of the century changed little from the Victorian era before. Lace up boots remained every man’s day shoe regardless of working class or gentlemen status. All classes had their own style variations, materials, and color preferences. As more leisure pursuits opened up for men, the short lace up oxford shoe grew in popularity.
Cuban or military heels replaced the Victorian stacked heel. The heel height rose to 1.25 to 1/5 inches. Pull tabs were placed on the back of boots to help prevent wrinkle sin the shaft. Laces were wide and flat.
Edwardian Men’s Boots
The lace up ankle boot with a smooth or cap toe in black was the most common footwear for men. Two tones of black or two skin types were often combined. Cuban or military heels replaced the Victorian stacked heel. The heel height rose to 1.25 to 1/5 inches.
Gentlemen with more flare to their style could opt for fabric top boots (wool or satin), canvas boots and two tone boots (brown and black, grey and black, or cream and brown.) Tan boots could be worn in summer, in the country, never in the city. Leather was made from colt (horse), Kangaroo and calf skin.
The pull on Congress boot was another popular style of boot for men who didn’t want the fuss of tying laces. Elastic side panels on either side made them easy to slip on. Boots with laces and elastic side panels were also offered.
The spat top boot with a row of buttons on the sides were very popular going into the 1900s but quickly faded. They, however, never left men’s footwear offerings. Many older men as well as dapper young men opted to keep the style alive. After 1910 it would come back in fashion among the young and trendy.
Working classes also wore lace up boots, however the overall shape was less refined than men’s dress shoes. Sturdier and flexible materials, thicker laces space out further, a wide bellow tongue, and rubber soles were featured of men’s work boots.
Every job had its own style of work boot and for every season. All rubber boot or oil coated boots and shoes were worn in wet climates. Over the calf boots were ideal for walking in difficult terrain. Felt boots were warm and flexible for mountain logging. These are just of a few of the basic work boots.
Learn more about winter/snow boots.
The oxford shoe, while not a new invention, found new purpose in the Edwardian era. Previously it had been reserved as a sport or casual shoe (worn with summer suits/summer outfits.) After 1900 it was being seen on the city street, especially when paired with short cropped and cuffed trousers.
Oxfords were either plain or more often cap toe with long round toes or shorter round toes that looked more “sporty.” Patent leather look dressier than matte leathers.
Unlike skinny string laces we use now, oxfords in the 1900s feature wide flat ribbon laces that tied in a big bow. When paired with short trousers and colorful clocked socks, the look was very fancy and a touch feminine.
Oxford were usually lace up styles but could also be button or buckle tops. The two tone combinations with military heels and spade soles were leaders in the new wave of trendy men’s footwear. These odd shoe shapes and decorations were short lived, just like the rah rah suits they were worn with.
1900s Men’s Shoes and Boots
Recreating men’s footwear of the 1900s isn’t very difficult now since there was a revival for lace up boots. A basic pair of oxfords is also period appropriate although I would encourage you to change out the laces for ribbon. These are some choices for dress boots, work boots and oxford shoes that are in the Edwardian style.