X-Ray Shoes

AKA:  stripper shoes, clear shoes, invisible shoes

How to say it: eks-rey  shoos

Traditional Features: 

Ferragamo Invisible Shoe
Salvatore Ferragamo’s 1947 Invisible Sandal
  • partially or fully made from polycarbonate, PVC, lucite or acrylic resin
  • part or all of the shoe appears to be see-through

21st Century X-Ray Shoes

The x-ray shoe is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are plenty of styles available on the modern market. Whether it is completely see-through or just a strap is clear, the invisible or x-ray shoe is certainly still around for those who want it.

Chinese Laundry Kate Spade

Chinese Laundry, Kate Spade

Steve Madden Stuart Weitzman

Steve Madden, Stuart Weitzman


…of the style: There isn’t a lot of information around regarding the history of the x-ray or clear shoe. The earliest version of the style that I could find was the ‘invisible sandal’ created by Salvatore Ferragamo 1947. The invisible sandal was made from a transparent nylon thread-like material attached to a wedge heel creating a see-through sandal. I found no evidence that this was the first ever x-ray shoe, so I can’t say that Ferragamo invented the style, but it was the first one that I could find.

The next examples I was able to find were in the 1960s when boots, pumps and slingbacks got the see-through treatment. In the 80s Jelly Shoes carried on the see-through mantle before the x-ray style crossed over into more provocative territory, becoming adorned with very high heels and platform soles and earning the nickname ‘stripper shoes’. Despite this moniker, designers got on the x-ray bandwagon in 2010 with designers like Dsquard2, Fendi and Prada showing clear shoes in their Spring shows. Sneaker shoe companies have also gotten in on the clear materials trend with brands like Nike, Adidas and Converse releasing styles with partially or fully see-through uppers.

In the current marketplace the see-through trend is alive and well and many shoe designers, from high-end to high-street, continually release various styles made from a range of see-through materials.

…of the name: This type of shoe is more commonly called clear, invisible or see-through and if I’m honest I have used the term x-ray in this post just so had something to put under the ‘X’ shoe entry. But whatever you call the style, the names stem from the clear or see-through materials used in their construction.

For more info on X-Ray Shoes try Wikipedia, Brit & Co, Vintage Fashion Guild or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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