Stylish to a T: An Essential Guide to T-Strap Heels & Shoes

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If you believe that two straps are better than one, the t-strap shoe is the perfect style for you. This elegant design is a symbol of feminine allure and liberation.

They’re a shoe filled with rich and empowering symbolism that unknowingly encourages wearers to embrace their wild side.

How can one simple shoe style achieve so much? It all comes down to history. Learn all about the t-strap shoe and its rebellious roots below!

What Are T-Strap Shoes?

T-strap shoes have two straps, one across the ankle and one from the vamp to the toe, that intersect to create a ‘T’ shape. They can also be called T-bar shoes, though this term is mostly used in the UK.

T-Strap shoes are defined by the intersecting straps that form a T shape vampT-Strap shoes are defined by the intersecting straps that form a T shape vamp

Traditionally t-strap shoes had low, curved heels with pointed or almond-shaped toes and were embellished with decorative buttons on the straps.

Over the years, they have been reinterpreted to have all kinds of embellishments, heel heights, and toe types. T-strap shoes can now come as casual flats, chunky platforms, or sleek stilettos.

The Wild History Of T-Strap Shoes

T-strap shoes are synonymous with flapper fashion. They were first introduced – and met with astounding popularity – during the Roaring 1920s.

This revolutionary decade saw the rise of the women’s rights movement, which meant liberation from restrictive Victorian clothing.

Women actively rebelled against traditional beauty standards by cutting their hair short, ditching their corsets, and opting for relaxed yet sophisticated silhouettes.

T-strap shoes became popular during the rise of flapper fashion in the 1920sT-strap shoes became popular during the rise of flapper fashion in the 1920s (Credit: Walter McBride / INFphoto)

Hemlines were shorter than they ever had been. Above-the-knee dresses became the norm, which made women eager to show off their legs. This meant, of course, adorning them with beautiful shoes!

Shoemakers began experimenting with different styles that accentuated the foot. New shoe styles often featured additional details, such as straps. The t-strap model was sexy yet sturdy and became a favorite for young women to wear while they danced the night away in jazz clubs.

The Enduring Popularity Of T-Strap Shoes

T-strap shoes create a refined, vintage-inspired feel to this day, thanks to their flapper origins. They’re also versatile and flattering.

Olivia Munn, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, Fergie, and Blake Lively wearing flattering and leg-lengthening T-strap heelsOlivia Munn, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, Fergie, and Blake Lively wearing flattering and leg-lengthening T-strap heels (Credit: Freddie Baez / Startraksphoto / Roger Wong / INFphoto / Mariotto / Lek / INFevents)

While single ankle straps can sometimes ‘cut off’ the leg at the ankle, the additional vertical strap in t-strap shoes creates an elongating effect on the leg.

How To Style T-Strap Shoes

Look to flappers for inspiration and pair t-strap shoes with shorter hemlines that highlight their eye-catching design. Clothing with long hemlines will clash or cover the ankle strap, which defeats the purpose of wearing this stylish shoe.

1. Faherty Willa Peasant Blouse; 2. Paige Claudine Jeans; 3. Dolce & Gabbana Kiera T-Strap Sandals; 4. Macgraw Bonjour Blouse; 5. Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Lumi Jersey Skirt; 6. SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie Pumps; 7. Caslon Tiered Linen Blend Midi Dress; 8. Manu Atelier Joy Sandal1. Faherty Willa Peasant Blouse, $158 at Nordstorm; 2. Paige Claudine Jeans, $229 at Zappos; 3. Dolce & Gabbana Kiera T-Strap Sandals, $1,495 at Farfetch; 4. Macgraw Bonjour Blouse, $562 at Farfetch; 5. Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Lumi Jersey Skirt, $290 at Saks Fifth Avenue; 6. SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie Pumps, $355 at Zappos; 7. Caslon Tiered Linen Blend Midi Dress, $69 at Nordstrom; 8. Manu Atelier Joy Sandal, $425 at Shopbop

T-strap shoes can be used to elevate casual looks like cropped jeans with a blouse or t-shirt or everyday mini or midi dresses. They can also be used to complement formal business or evening attire – just be sure to stick to mini or midi-length skirts and dresses!

To truly pay homage to the stylish flappers that brought this shoe to fame, you can style your t-bar shoes with a playful fringe dress or mini skirt.

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