Peep Toe Shoes

AKA: open-toe shoe

How to say it:  peep toh

Traditional Features: 

Peep Toe Shoes

  • opening or cut-out area over the end of the toes
  • can be flat or heeled
  • can be in a variety of styles – pump, sandal, sling-back etc

21st Century Peep-Toe Shoes

On the modern marketplace, the peep toe shoe comes in many forms. Sandal, sling-back, bootie, ballet flat or classic pump – they are all represented under the peep toe banner. From designer collections to the high-street brands, the peep toe is a perennial favourite that has the ability to reinvent itself every season to fit in with the current trends.

Christian LouboutinDiane von Furstenberg

Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg

Jimmy Choo Tory Burch

Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch


…of the style: While I was not able to determine who actually invented the peep toe style, most sources agree that they entered women’s fashion in the late 1930s.

Perhaps it was the relaxation of social decency rules that inspired designers to expose a little bit of toe, or maybe it was the fact that skirts were getting shorter and women’s shoes were being shown off rather than being hidden under layers of fabric; it may even have been the restrictions on materials during WWII that caused the cut-out to appear.  However it came about, the peep toe style was extremely popular in women’s wear through the 40s and 50s, before going into decline in the 60s, when it somehow took on a more matronly look.

The peep toe had a small resurgence in the late 1970s but was out of fashion again by the time the 90s rolled around.

In the 21st century, shoe trends are much less streamlined than in the past and women pretty much wear whatever they like on their feet. This has allowed the peep toe to establish itself as a fashion staple, and the shoe is now produced in various styles by designers and high-street brands alike; reinvented year after year to fit in with the dominant trends of the season. The peep toe look is regularly applied to everything from ballet flats to ankle boots and is as acceptable walking down the street, as it is walking down the red carpet. Given the peep toes popularity, versatility and all around acceptance in the modern era, it seems unlikely that the style will slip from the footwear landscape any time soon.

…of the name: The shoe is named for the cut-out section at the front of the shoe that allows the toes to ‘peep’ out.

For more info on Peep Toe Shoes try Wikipedia, Vintage Fashion Club, Hubpages,  or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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