All official sports came to a halt when America entered WWII in 1941. Thousands of college and professional athletes went to war including their coaches, trainers, and manufactures of sporting goods. It wasn’t until after the war in 1946 when sport shoe developers return to work and invented many shoes we are familiar with today.
Since the 1880s Converse brand high tops shoes were the only official maker of athletic shoes. Their brown leather and suede shoes with round classic converse label made for a striking contrast to every day shoes of lace up boots and Oxford. Eventually brown gave way to black and leather gave way to canvas. Converse shoes were worn by basketball players, baseball players, and football players with the edition of metal cleats. By the late 40’s teenagers were wearing converse as their everyday shoes.
In 1936 the US Olympics names the Converse All Star as their official sport shoe. Shortly thereafter the converse sneaker went to war, this time as an all white shoe for training exercises. The shoes were worn with blue and white All Star text on the Converse’s classic round seal as a patriotic symbol. After the war Converse went back to the design board and came up with the now classic Black and White All Star sneaker – still keeping the patriotic seal for another few decades.
Golfers had their own shoe design. Both men and women enjoyed the two toned golf shoe with either Oxford or saddle shoe color variations. Brown and white were more popular than black and white saddle golf shoes.
Learn about all styles of 1940s mens shoes.
1940s Women’s Sport Shoes
For women, Converse shoes were not an option, although I am sure a few women chose to wear the men’s shoes anyways. Instead women embraced classic brown Oxfords for lawn sports like golf and the rubber soled classic white Keds for surface sports like Tennis.
The Movie, A League of their Own, chronicles the women’s baseball teams in the 1940’s. The teams were put together as entertainment for the women factory workers. The choice of footwear was leather Oxfords, the same shoes they wore in factories.
Classic Converse, saddle golf and white keds can still be found today. Pick up a pair for your next vintage sporting day.