High Heels Throughout History – The Swinging Sixties

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” admin_preview_bg=”] Kalena’s Italian Shoes is celebrating fifty years of business in iconic Little Italy on Commercial Drive and we would like to take you on a journey through the equally iconic history of High Heels in North America and the fashion that surrounds them. This is part two in the series, you can view the first entry about the 1950s here.


The 1960s saw a lot of historical events in politics, entertainment, culture and fashion. Andy Warhol’s Pop Art style came into popularity, the Beatles took the music world by storm, the first manned mission to the moon was completed and presidential candidates debated on television for the first time.

In terms of high heel fashion, the more elegant and refined heels of the fifties were generally replaced with cheaper, more comfortable and flatter shoes. But high heels never really fell out of fashion and new styles continued to emerge so let’s dive right in and see what unique high heel designs came out of the swinging sixties.

1960s Womens FashionPage from a 1960s Clothing Catalog


Kitten Heels
1960s Kitten High Heels

These charming and cute pumps came in tall, medium and short heel sizes and were perfect for both a day out with friends or as part of an evening wear ensemble.

The name came into being because Kitten was a slang term for a young and inexperienced girl. This style of shoe was actually first released in the fifties as a sort of trainer high heel for teenage girls as full-on stiletto heels were considered to be too provocative but when the sixties rolled around they became fashionable for adults as well and designers followed suit by making kitten heels suited to those consumers.

The fact that kitten heels came in shorter heel sizes helped them conform to the trends of comfort over fashion in this era and bridged the gap between both worlds. Their babydoll look and bright colors also matched with the general fashion style of the era.

Stacked Heels
1960s Stacked Heels

The stacked heel was actually quite common as an elegant form of men’s shoe in 17th century Europe and wearing them was a symbol of status and wealth. The 1960s saw this design rise to popularity once again as a women’s shoe.

Stacked heels featured a very sturdy, thicker heel with a pattern that resembled stacked wood. The strength and size of the heel made them much more comfortable to wear than their thin-heeled stiletto counterparts and this meant they could be worn all day long with minimal aggravation.

Kalena's Perlized Silver Sandal
A Modern-day Stacked Heel Shoe (Purchase Here)

Pilgrim Pumps
Pilgrim Pumps

He was mentioned in our previous article about high heel fashion in the 1950s but Roger Vivier also had a huge impact on shoe fashion in the sixties with his creation of pilgrim pumps. Although Vivier designed the original, it became the most emulated shoe design of the decade with countless varieties being sold in stores.

This shoe became all the rage after first lady Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing them in Women’s Wear Daily and they became a large part of the mod fashion movement which started in London and spread to North America.

The toe area of the shoe was not pointed like stilettos which, along with the short heels, made them comfortable to wear.


When it came to the celebs who were considered fashion icons in the sixties we turn first to the first lady herself, Jackie Kennedy. Jackie was THE original fashionista first lady and women around the world were looking to imitate her style.

Jackie Kennedy

When it came to shoes, as mentioned above, Jackie basically single-handedly put pilgrim pumps on the map as a must-have fashion item.

In terms of a modern-day equivalent to the pilgrim pump, consider the Low Heel shoe from Kalena:

Kalena's Low Heel Shoe

Simple, elegant and comfortable with a touch of the pilgrim pump’s sensibilities that can be worn on almost any occasion.

Rosemary’s Baby remains one of the most iconic films of the sixties and it’s star, Mia Farrow, was one of the most iconic actresses of that era.

Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby
Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby

Farrow was also a fashion model and appeared in over fifty films over the course of her illustrious career and her style sensibilities influenced women across the nation.

Mia is seen in the photo above wearing black pumps in Rosemary’s Baby and there are whole articles online about fashion from that film.


The sixties ushered in the hippie movement and an overall more liberal viewpoint that in many ways opposed the conservatism and formality of the 1950s. As a result, high heels fell slightly out of fashion as more and more women moved towards more comfortable and practical footwear. In addition, the feminist movement of the era saw many women actively opposing high heel shoes as a symbol of female vulnerability. So as you can see, high heels had a lot stacked against them but they still managed to remain in the limelight and never fully faded from fashion.

Join us next time to explore the high heel fashion of the 1970s.


Do you love high heel shoes? Kalena Italian Shoes has a wide variety of high heels in all shapes and sizes and for all different occasions and seasons. Be sure to browse our online catalog and sign up for our mailing list to get ten percent off of your first purchase and get a chance to win a five-hundred dollar gift certificate.


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