'90s Shoe Trends That Are Honestly Making a Comeback

The first episode of Sex and the City aired in June 1998, so you’d be forgiven if you thought shoes in the ’90s all came in almond-coloured Manolo Blahnik bags. Carrie Bradshaw may have found the answer to the Urban Shoe Myth—Manolo Blahnik Mary-Janes in “Authentic! Patent leather!”—but the rest of us found chunky-soled Kickers that looked like they’d fit right in on Skipper (remember him?) or Steve’s feet.

We also had white T-bar pumps in Clueless and stompy black lace-up boots in Empire Records, and depending on how you found that time for your own wardrobe, the fact that many of this epoch’s shoe trends are returning may fill you with joy or fear. Here’s how to wear the classic ’90s shoe trends now.

Chunky Black Heels

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The Style Stalker

Anyone who grew up watching Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion on repeat will know the sassy duos footwear of choice was towering platforms. We recall wearing this kind of chunky style to every school disco, but now they’re back, a little more streamlined and to be worn in a more laid-back way with jeans.

Heaps of A-listers are enamoured with Saint Laurent’s stacked heels.

Mules

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The Style Stalker

Another classic from the stable of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Diamanté and satin are still more than acceptable, so feel free to opt for mules that have a point of difference from your average pair. 

"School" Shoes

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Who remembers pleading with their mum to let them buy what can only be described as, clodhoppers from Kickers as school shoes? The rattier yours were—unravelling laces, scuffed leather—the cooler you looked in a blazer, went the philosophy. Today it’s still about wearing them with socks and miniskirts. Scowl optional.

Mary Janes

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The fastest way to look like “a total Betty” in the realm of Cher Horowitz is a plaid skirt suit, knee-high socks and Mary Janes. Just make sure yours have a block heel and are super shiny, metallic or velvet, otherwise, as Christian would say, your “stems” could look “hagsville.”

Plastic and Perspex

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A perspex shoe used to be something you’d only see on mannequins in Soho sex shops, but footwear designers have been busy incorporating the material into all manner of mules, sandals and boots. Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s cult wedge sandals had a single strip of the see-through stuff across the foot, while Leandra Medine’s collection for Net-a-Porter, MR by Man Repeller, has a wicker pair of sandals with a PVC bow that is all but sold out. 

Leg-lengthening clear plastic means you can forgo a really high heel.

Square Toes

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The Style Stalker

Speaking of square, I distinctly remember having a pair of square-toed Gabor boots in the nineties. I wish I hadn’t binned them for as soon as Celine sent out ankle boots with not pointed, not almond-shaped but square toes, they’ve been something of the sartorial holy grail. Look no further than Marni’s seemingly normal ballet pumps, with the kind of angular front that will prove a great ice-breaker (see above).

Ticking off about forty trends in one.

Next up, autumn outfit ideas you can wear now or save for later.

Opening Image: The Style Stalker