Skip to main content

The History of the Woman’s Pump Shoe

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Sharlee has been interested in fashion for many years and loves researching historical trends and materials.

Pumps Never Go Out of Fashion

A pump shoe is described as a shoe that may have a high heel or a flat heel with a rounded toe, pointed toe, or a squared-off toe. A classic pump is made of leather with the toes, sides, and back covering the foot. The toe is styled to be rounded and come up high enough to cover the cleavage.

Let's have a look at how the pump has evolved over the past decades. Today's pump can be a very high-heeled spiky stiletto, a flat ballerina slippers, or even a two-inch kitten heel, and just about everything in between. So, where did the pump shoe originate, how long have they been around, and what makes them the style of footwear that defies time?

The pump shoe has evolved dramatically through the years, and the materials used now vary from the most typically used leather of yesterday. Today's pump shoe is produced in many different materials, such as canvas, silk, and a wide variety of synthetic materials.

The original pump shoe was often a solid colour, but as years passed, the pump morphed in many directions. It went from being a plain coloured leather shoe to, you name it. Pumps now can be found in multi colours, metallic, prints, and decorated with straps and bows, and much other hardware.


The Early Days of the Pump

The pump shoe style is a true fashion classic and has been around for centuries. The name itself was first used in the early 1500s. The very first pumps were when strapless shoes without heels that were worn by men. By the mid-1500s, the woman's pump was born and worn first on the feet of the servant class.

Why did servants prefer the pump shoe over any other style of footwear? First of all, the pump shoe was very inexpensive, easy to put on the foot, and comfortable. Servants didn't have the time or money for the upper class's fussy button or lace-up shoes. It wasn't until the twentieth century that things turned around for the classic pump shoe.

Time brought dramatic changes in footwear, and the classic style pump shoe took its rightful place in fashion and quickly became the shoe style associated with style and glamour.

The Evolution of the Pump Design

Although you'll find countless styles of pumps shoes today, in 1960's it had a very classic design with a medium or high heel, comfortable toe area cut fairly low at both the sides and front. It was higher on top to reveal a bit of toe cleavage.

To confuse matters further, some styles in the mid 60's were designed with an open heel and ankle strap. The ankle strap made the shoe more flexible and comfortable, due to its adjustable strap. The marketplace has always offers many styles of the pump shoe.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the style has stayed around for so long, and still remains the most popular style in women's footwear.


The Style Icons That Kept the Pump Shoe on Trend

Style icons such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe were big fans of the pump, and they frequently wore them to complete their own special fashion look.

Mrs. Kennedy was known to order twelve new pairs at a time. Audrey Hepburn loved pumps, perhaps for their understated elegance. The pump's sensible yet sophisticated style has also been a favourite of many other first ladies and celebrities.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Bellatory

Today's pumps are similar to the styles of the past. The well-known designers today have added their own individual twists, making sure to design pump shoes that come in a wide range of different materials and a good selection of heel heights.

The Versatile of the Pump

Pumps have such a classic style and are designed to be worn with almost anything.

They look lovely when worn with a skirt or dress and look great with pants. What can liven up a pair of jeans more than a great pair of sexy pumps? They look wonderful in the evening with a little black dress or a tailored business suit for work.

The versatility is the best feature of a pump. A classic pump can see you through from day to night without a hitch.

The Classic Business Pump Shoe

We have looked at the pump style that will get you "through the night. " Let's look at what will get you through the day—the classic pump shoe of the businesswoman. The classic business shoe must be not only stylish but comfortable for a long workday.

The businesswoman of today puts in a long workday and really needs comfort as well as style. Several shoe companies strive to give women comfortable, stylish business shoes. One such company is Naturalizer." Naturalizer produces a very classic type of business pump that has stayed true to the classic pump of the 1960s.

Very upscale designers such as "Manolo Blahnik" and others also offer their customers many fabulous, styled pumps. Naturally, expect to will pay more for the "Manolo Blahnik" Pump than the Naturalizer.

The Trendy Pump Shoe Styles of Today

The pump has come a long way since the first styles of the 1500s. The classic simple 1960 style actually continues to be the number one seller in women's footwear. The simple spiky heel without any form of embellishment has made a big comeback in the past couple of years. Designers such as "Christian Louboutin" have put the classic simple pump back into women's wardrobes.

Many shoe designers have added trendy style changes to the classic pump. Designer "Manolo Blahnik" is well known for his creative footwear. Blahnik's trendy styles are well sought after due to their fabulous embellishments, from shiny gems to spiky studs and grommets. He also has become popular for mixing vivid colors that, in the end, are a very interesting one of a pair of shoes. He has shown the fashion world that the classic Pump can be made more interesting and even perhaps reflect the wearer's individuality and personality.


Chermae on May 24, 2020:

If you truly love wearing heels...& dont have discomfort associated with them all that much...then...why not enjoy them more...for work or social events ...all my heels are 4 & 5" tall....mostly all are me pumps are much classier Im noticing more girls at even the supermarket in either jeans or matching outfit in 4 or 5" heels...I think this is really nice to see women are dressing better now than flipflops are so unattractive...just an opinion on my part...but being a classy dressed cd/tv...i take great pride in dressing I would like to see women dress...I totally enjoy dressing as a woman...& its not about a guy in a dress either.

Priya Barua on April 17, 2020:

You've covered all the bases related to the shoes, well done with the article. I love the ones with the rounded toe.

Related Articles