12 Shoe Trends That Defined the 2000s

Shannon Adducci
·4 min read

The fascination with 2000s-era fashion has only just begun and as we go further into the ’20s, it’s likely that the nostalgic trend will continue to grow even more.

But what exactly were the shoe trends of aughts — and how are they influencing fashion today? Below, a look at the top 10 shoe trends of the 2000s, how they defined the decade and will continue to influence in the coming years.

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1. Square toe sandals

Most 2000s-era teens lived in platforms and chunky shoes of some sort, but the more grown-up look came from a square toed sandal, often paired with a kitten heel for a more delicate look. Worn with day and evening looks alike, it was a defining silhouette of the earlier half of the decade — and is proving that it might be the same for the early 2020s.

2. Ugg, Ugg and more Ugg

When it comes to aughts-era footwear, there was Ugg and then there was everything else. Australian surfer Brian Smith may have brought the sheepskin boot to the California in the ’80s, but it wasn’t until 2000 when they really hit critical mass in the U.S., especially when Oprah introduced them as one of her Oprah’s Favorite Things on her show. By 2003, the company had yearly sales of nearly $40 million.

3. Clear shoes

Back in the aughts, clear heels gained the very un-PC moniker of “stripper heels,” but many were actually very everyday-wearable, done in lower platforms, a slide silhouette and — much like we see now — with clear PVC accents only here and there. More popular in the early years of the decade, they were made by the likes of LEI, Mudd and Mootsie’s Tootsies.

4. Super-pointy pumps

What Uggs were to denim miniskirts, pointy pumps were to bootcut jeans. The classic pump was a staple in dressing up “going out” tops and bootcut jeans for a more sophisticated night on the town in the early- to mid-2000s.

5. Thongs

Thong platforms crossed over from the late ’90s into the early 2000s as means of taking a casual look and adding a bit of a statement. But as the aughts went on, the classic flat thong sandal (better known in the U.S. as the flip flop, as another “thong” trend was simultaneously taking off) reigned supreme, on both celebs and the masses. The trend is has been making a fast comeback in the past year with elevated, novelty takes on the style.

6. The T-strap

The retro shoe style has long been out of fashion, but a look back at the mid-2000s shows that they were a consistent hit on the red carpet — and thus could make a comeback in this decade.

7. Ballet flats

In 2006, Tory Burch introduced her Reva, a flexible ballet-inspired flat that came in a host of hues and was topped with a gigantic circular logo hardware piece on the toe, which became a little like the shoe status equivalent of the Mercedes-Benz hood logo. Plenty of knock-off ballet flats followed, but there remained only one Reva.

8. Platform pumps

Somewhere around 2007, fashion brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Prada and even Chanel began to affix a tiered platform to the bottom of their leather pumps. Some of the platforms were hidden in the sole, while others look like they were hammered on as an attachment. Many of them had a peep toe.

9. Strappy sandals

There isn’t really a decade in the modern history of women’s fashion that does not include a strappy sandal — how could one resist their universally flattering end result? The early aughts had plenty of the strappy sandals with kitten heels that are currently back, while the the shoe became progressively chunkier — in heel, platform and thickness of straps — as the decade progressed.

10. The riding boot

Brown leather knee-high boots in sensible heels were a staple of the decade — and we’re still seeing its effects today. It may have even secretly influenced the rise of the skinny jean and the legging, as women found it difficult to tuck their bootcut and flared jeans into the boots, even when they were slouchy.

11. Converse All-Stars

The perennial sneaker dips in and out of the trend cycle but halfway through the decade, they were firmly placed back in the footwear zeitgeist. Teens and tweens — including Selena Gomez — rocked them with gray-black skinny jeans, tank tops and vests.

12. Gladiator and cutout bootie-sandals

The 2000s was the decade of the hybrid heel and it evolved from beginning to end. Straps on sandals grew thicker to become more of a cutout and caged look, encompassing the idea of both the spine-like gladiator sandal and the silhouette of a high-heeled ankle bootie. Flat styles went all-in on the gladiator reference, decked out fringed suede, beads

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