AKA: foundation garment, bodysuit, corselette

How to say it: awl-in-wuhn

Traditional Features: mandarin

  • undergarment
  • combines bra and underpants in one piece
  • can be strapless and/or have underwires
  • normally made from stretch fabrics
  • often includes garter straps
  • can be a form of shapewear

21st Century All-in-Ones

While girdles aren’t really worn in the 21st century, there is plenty of all-in-one lingerie on the market. Whether they are made from pretty lace or body-shaping fabrics, there are lots of varieties at lots of price points for the girl who wants everything in one.

Bali Forever 21

Bali, Forever21

SPANX Wacoal

SPANX, Wacoal


…of the style: At its most basic, the all-in-one is just that, an undergarment that combines underwear and a bra into one piece. While various versions of camilsole/underpants combinations have existed since at least the 1900s, the all-in-one as we know it today evolved from the corset in the 1920s.

The 20s saw the fashionable female figure change from the exaggerated S-bend of the turn of the century to a boyish, boxy shape. For some women this meant the end of uncomfortable, boned corsets in favour of large, loose underpants and bras that flattened the bust. But for those women with curves, an all-in-one foundation garment was required to achieve the desired silhouette. Essentially a flattening bra attached to a girdle, the all-in-one hid womanly curves creating a straight up-and-down shape. The all-in-one started out with boning to to provide the shape, much like a corset, but as the women of the decade gradually began to move more, the stiff boning was replaced with elasticated fabrics which successfully smoothed the body whilst allowing for ample movement.

In the 30s a more shapely figure came back into fashion and the all-in-one of this decade supported the breast rather than flattening it, cinched the waist and smoothed over the hips to create a slender, hourglass silhouette.

Despite strict fabric restrictions during WWI, all-in-ones continued to be a popular underwear choice throughout the 1940s. Garments of this decade were usually made from cotton or rayon with a small amount of elasticated fabric (which was heavily rationed during the war) in the front and back to provide some stretch. The 40s also saw the introduction of the ‘panty’ style all-in-one which was created in response to the increasing number of women wearing pants.

The hourglass silhouette continued to be popular after the war, but evolved into a more glamorous version of itself in the 1950s with smaller waists and higher busts the desired look. The all-in-one of this decade came in various versions, from lighter, elasticated roll-on garments, to more sturdy and structured pieces. All-in-ones also often featured a strapless, structured top, sometimes with a plunging v between the breasts to allow for the dress fashions of the decade.

In the 1960s and 70s the fashionable silhouette focused more on a ‘free’ or natural body, and the all-in-one became less of a foundation garment – the girdle was no longer part of the construction and the bra often had no underwire. The legs of the garment raised up to more closely resemble modern underpants and it was often made of soft, stretch fabrics or laces, moving the all-in-one into the realm of lingerie – where it pretty much stayed for the remainder of the 20th century.

The fabrics used in all-in-ones became more luxurious and decorative in the 1980s which saw a rise in popularity of lingerie style underwear for the everyday. All-in-ones were often made from satin in a swimsuit style, often without even underwires in the bust, acting as a covering rather than a foundation or support system for the body.

In the 21st century, the all-in-one is still mainly worn as a form of lingerie, although it has reclaimed a little of its foundation ancestry, with versions available in shaping fabrics that smooth the bust, waist and stomach. They have generally retained their swimsuit shape, but longer line versions do exist for those who want them. With underwear separates well and truly the norm for the modern woman, all-in-one underwear is by no means a popular choice in the 21st century, yet despite this there continues to be a healthy selection of pretty and utilitarian versions of the style available for those who want them.

…of the name: the style is an all-in-one undergarment, hence the name.

For more info on All-in-One undergarments try the FIT Newsroom, Vintage Dancer, Fashion Era or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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How to say it: zawr-ee

Traditional Features: 


  • flat to wedge sole
  • traditionally made of wood, straw or rubber
  • held onto foot with a thing passing between the first and second toe
  • both shoes are symmetrical so there is no difference between the left and right shoe

21st Century Zōri

Zōri don’t really exist in modern fashion outside of Japan, but the 21st century footwear market is awash with various versions of its close cousin the flip-flop – check out our post on flip-flops for the history and current options of the style.


…of the style: Zōri sandals are a traditional Japanese shoe that is worn with the kimono. It is made from a variety of materials depending on the formality of the occasion to which it is meant to be worn – straw zōri are more casual, whereas the vinyl versions are more dressy and the most formal ones are made from fabric and designed to be worn with formal kimonos.

The soles of zōri sandals range from completely flat to a slight wedge or platform and women’s zori do generally have at least a little bit of height to them.

It is thought the zōri style made its way into Western society sometime after WWII when returning soldiers took the style home with them. After that the style quickly evolved into the flip-flop which took the western footwear market by storm and has remained a firm summer favourite ever since. Check out the history of the flip-flop on IFA here.

Despite its initial popularity in the West, the zōri was quickly replaced by the flip-flop and has not really had any success in modern fashion since then. It is still worn in Japan and while the shoe has moved with the times in terms of materials and manufacturing, the look of the style remains fairly unchanged and is still worn regularly in Japan.

…of the name: the name zōri is a Japanese word meaning ‘grass or straw sole’

For more info on Zōri try Wikipedia

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Yachting Shoe

AKA: boat shoes, deck shoes, topsiders

How to say it: yot-ing shoo

Traditional Features: 

Yachting Shoe

  • canvas or leather upper
  • non-marking sole with a herringbone groove pattern to provide grip
  • moccasin-like style
  • visible, durable stitching

21st Century Yachting Shoes

Yachting shoes are no longer solely the realm of boating enthusiasts; designers from the high-end to the high-street are cashing in on the constant popularity of the classic style and releasing version of the shoe in several variations that fit the brand and current trends.

Christian Louboutin Sketchers

Christian Louboutin, Sketchers

Sperry TODS

Sperry, TOD’S


…of the style: The yachting shoe was introduced by Paul Sperry in 1935. Sperry, an avid boatman, was walking his dog one day in Connecticut when he noticed that his cocker spaniel was able to run across the ice without slipping. Inspired by his dog and pattern of grooves on his paws, Sperry made herringbone-like cuts in the bottom of his sailing shoes  and manage to create a non-slip surface – the Sperry Top-sider was born.

The top-siders were a hit with fellow boaters as the white soles of the shoes not only provided traction on the slippery boat surfaces, but also didn’t mark the boat decks thanks to their white colour. However, the shoe remained somewhat of a niche product until the mid 1930s when Abercrombie and Fitch began distributing the shoes in their stores. In 1939 the US Navy recognised the benefit of the style and negotiated a deal to allow it to manufacture the shoe for it’s sailors – a practice which continues today.

With the introduction of Sail Magazine in1966, followed by the release of the Jaw’s movies sfrom 1975, the yachting shoe began to go mainstream. In 1980 the Official Preppy Handbook proclaimed the shoe to be an integral part of the Prep uniform and the style was cemented as a fashion classic.

Over the years the yachting shoe has maintained its hold on Preppy and boating style and has floated in and out of more mainstream fashion as the trends changed. Many designers regularly release the shoe in various colours and materials, playing with the classic styling to help it fit into the current fashions. It is a comfortable, versatile and easy to wear style and will no doubt maintain a stable level of popularity on the footwear market for many years to come.

…of the name: The shoe is called a ‘yachting shoe’ because it was originally designed to be worn on yachts and boats.

Random Facts

  • the first Sperry Top-siders cost $4.50
  • Paul Sperry’s dog was called Prince

For more info on Yachting Shoes try Wikipedia,, Gentleman’s Gazette or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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X-Ray Shoes

AKA:  stripper shoes, clear shoes, invisible shoes

How to say it: eks-rey  shoos

Traditional Features: 

Ferragamo Invisible Shoe

Salvatore Ferragamo’s 1947 Invisible Sandal

  • partially or fully made from polycarbonate, PVC, lucite or acrylic resin
  • part or all of the shoe appears to be see-through

21st Century X-Ray Shoes

The x-ray shoe is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are plenty of styles available on the modern market. Whether it is completely see-through or just a strap is clear, the invisible or x-ray shoe is certainly still around for those who want it.

Chinese Laundry Kate Spade

Chinese Laundry, Kate Spade

Steve Madden Stuart Weitzman

Steve Madden, Stuart Weitzman


…of the style: There isn’t a lot of information around regarding the history of the x-ray or clear shoe. The earliest version of the style that I could find was the ‘invisible sandal’ created by Salvatore Ferragamo 1947. The invisible sandal was made from a transparent nylon thread-like material attached to a wedge heel creating a see-through sandal. I found no evidence that this was the first ever x-ray shoe, so I can’t say that Ferragamo invented the style, but it was the first one that I could find.

The next examples I was able to find were in the 1960s when boots, pumps and slingbacks got the see-through treatment. In the 80s Jelly Shoes carried on the see-through mantle before the x-ray style crossed over into more provocative territory, becoming adorned with very high heels and platform soles and earning the nickname ‘stripper shoes’. Despite this moniker, designers got on the x-ray bandwagon in 2010 with designers like Dsquard2, Fendi and Prada showing clear shoes in their Spring shows. Sneaker shoe companies have also gotten in on the clear materials trend with brands like Nike, Adidas and Converse releasing styles with partially or fully see-through uppers.

In the current marketplace the see-through trend is alive and well and many shoe designers, from high-end to high-street, continually release various styles made from a range of see-through materials.

…of the name: This type of shoe is more commonly called clear, invisible or see-through and if I’m honest I have used the term x-ray in this post just so had something to put under the ‘X’ shoe entry. But whatever you call the style, the names stem from the clear or see-through materials used in their construction.

For more info on X-Ray Shoes try Wikipedia, Brit & Co, Vintage Fashion Guild or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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AKA: wedgies, lifties

How to say it: wej

Traditional Features: 


  • one-piece sole also acts as the heel
  • sole traditionally made from wood or cork, but can be made from anything
  • can be any height
  • upper can be any style

21st Century Wedges

The wedge is as popular as ever in the 21st century and versions of the shoe in every style imaginable abound on the modern footwear market. Sandals, sneakers, boots, pumps; no style has escaped the wedge treatment.

Salvatore Ferragamo Stuart Weitzman

Salvatore Ferragamo, Stuart Weitzman

TOMS Valentino

TOM’S, Valentino


…of the style: While the wedge has been worn by many cultures throughout the centuries, it entered women’s fashion in the 1930s; introduced by the Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. Ferragamo’s wedges were made from cork or wood and provided women with a comfortable, fashionable shoe whilst circumventing the leather and rubber shortages during WWII (rubber and leather supplies were reserved for the war effort). Height was a major fashion trend at the time and women liked the wedge (particularly the cork for its lightweight and durability) as it provided the illusion of height whilst being more comfortable than sky-high stilettos and narrower heels.

Within two years the wedge was hugely popular and had cemented itself as a fashion classic, however fashion trends change and the wedge fell out of favour in the 40s only to make a comeback in the 1970s thanks to Jodie Foster, Yves Saint Laurent and the Disco era. Wedge designs of the 70s were more outrageous and colourful than their 1930s predecessors and were worn by both men and women.

Since then the wedge has had popularity spikes in the 1990s and the early 2000s and in the second decade of the 21st century there is an abundance of wedge styles available on the market. It is a flattering, comfortable and versatile style and thanks to these traits, it is likely that the wedge will continue to be a classic staple in women’s footwear for a long time.

…of the name: I couldn’t find a definite reason as to why they are called wedges, but I assume it has something to do with the fact that the one-piece sole originally looked like a wedge of cork under the foot (and often still does).

Random Facts

  • Ferragamo’s shoes were initially very uncomfortable, so he enrolled in anatomy, mathematics and chemical engineering at Los Angeles University to help him design better, more comfortable shoes

For more info on Wedges try eZine, eHow, Wikipedia, Wikifashion or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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Venetian Chopines


How to say it: vuhnee-shuh-n  chop-in

Traditional Features: 

Venetian Chopines

  • a platform sole of varying height – can be so high as to resemble stilts
  • sole traditionally made of cork or wood
  • upper shoe in slip on style
  • usually very decorative

Original Venetian Chopines

Venetian Chopines Venetian Chopines

21st Century Venetian Chopines

The chopine doesn’t really exist in modern mainstream fashion, at least not in the extremes that it did in the 15th century. However, platform shoes do have a continuous presence in the footwear market, and more extreme versions of the platform regularly make appearances on the feet of women wanting to make an impression in the 21st century.

Alexander McQueen Omar Perez

Alexander McQueen, Omar Perez

Free People Stella McCartney

Free People, Stella McCartney


…of the style: Venetian chopines were a popular women’s shoe in the 15th – 17th centuries. The style was thought to have been originally worn as a type of clog, used to protect the wearer’s shoes and dress from the dirty and uneven surfaces of the streets of Italy and Spain, but later turned into a fashion shoe with the height of the chopines indicating the social standing and wealth of the wearer.

The chopine was normally made from wood or cork, covered in fabric or leather, and heavily decorated. Some sources say that walking in chopines caused an inelegant gait and wearers were often accompanied by a servant on which to balance, while others state that women who were practiced in the wearing of chopines were graceful and could even wear them dancing.

Chopines were also popular in Spain in the 15th century, however the style of the shoe differed, adopting a symmetric, conical shape that was often bejewelled, embossed or embroidered, whereas the Venetian styles were usually more artistically carved. It is believed that Spanish women wore their skirts above their chopines, so that the shoes were always on show – hence the elaborate and often expensive materials used to adorn the shoe. However in Italy, chopines were hidden under the clothes, used as a means to increase the height of the wearer and therefore the length of her skirts, allowing her to display a greater material wealth.

The chopine fell out of style in the 17th century as the focus of fashion moved from Venice to the French Court and the platform was replaced by heeled shoes reminiscent of Persian riding boots. Platform shoes remained out of fashion until 20th century when designer Ferragamo brought them back in the 1930s. Since then, platform shoes have ridden the waves of fashion trends, and while extreme platforms do exist, they rarely make it into mainstream fashion, and certainly never reach the 20 inch heights of their ancestors the chopines

…of the name: The term ‘chopine’ apparently comes from the Spanish work chapin which apparently means clog.

Random Facts

  • during the height of their popularity, Venetian chopines apparently reached 20 inches tall

For more info on Venetian Chopines try Wikipedia, The Met, Collectors Weekly, History and Women, Bata Shoe Museum or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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Ugg Boot

AKA: sheepskin slippers, sheepskin boots, fleece boots, Uggs, Uggies, Ugs

How to say it: ugg boot

Traditional Features: 

Ugg Boot

  • twin-faced sheepskin upper – fleece on the inside, tanned on the outside
  • rubber or synthetic sole
  • traditionally 10″ tall, but can be of varying heights
  • traditionally a simple slipper style, but can come in any style

21st Century Ugg Boots

The Ugg Boot has changed a lot since it first hit the footwear market in the early 20th century; but regardless of what manufacturers do with the overall design of the shoe (and they have done a lot), the cozy, sheepskin lining remains the one defining feature of the iconic Ugg.

Classic Ugg Short Uggs

Classic Ugg Boot, Short Ugg Boot

Sparkle Uggs Tall Uggs

Sparkle Ugg Boot, Tall Ugg Boot


…of the style: The origins of the Ugg Boots apparently dates back to the pilots of World War I who were photographed wearing sheepskin lined boots to keep their feet warm while in the air; they were called Fugg Boots.

Modern uggs have been manufactured since at least the 1930s when Blue Mountain Uggs opened it doors in Australia and their shoes were worn by farmers and shearers throughout the country. Mortel’s Sheepskin Factory also began producing Aussie ugg boots in the 1950s, and in the late 60s surfers got in on the style, finding the boots warm and comfy to wear after riding the waves. The original uggs were essentially a sheepskin sock, with a seam down the centre front and no real sole, but the 1970s several companies were producing ugg boots all over Australia and style of the shoe evolved into the three-piece style that is so very popular today.

The ugg boot eventually found its way to the UK and US on the feet of surfers travelling for competitions and became particularly popular in California, where the style fit perfectly with the relaxed casual style that was prevalent among the beach communities. Initially, American surfers had to rely on Aussie mates to keep them supplied with uggs, but in 1978 surfer Brian Smith traveled to the USA with a bag full of uggs with a plan to import. Apparently Smith first tried to sell his wares in New York but was sent packing. After failing to find interest on the East Coast, Smith tried the West coast and was met with almost immediate success and the UGG AUSTRALIA brand was born.

By the 1980s ugg boots had become a symbol of the relaxed California lifestyle and had spread beyond the beaches, popping up in cities and towns across the country. As summer turned to winter, people began to wear the sheepskin shoe in ski resorts to stay warm, cementing the ugg as an all season shoe. By the 1990s celebrities had jumped on the ugg boot train and the shoe began to gain true fashion status, which has continued to grow into the 21st century.

In Australia the term ‘ugg’ is considered a slang word and is used to describe any kind of sheepskin slipper regardless of who makes it. Outside of the Land Down Under, the word Ugg has been ruled a brand name, and only shoes made by Ugg Australia can bare the name. Under the UGG brand the style has evolved past the once casual slipper and can be found in a huge variety of styles, sporting everything from a wedge heel to ribbons, sequins and laces, and are available in a wide range of colours. The temperature controlling properties of the sheepskin lining of the shoe have made it a staple for people in all facets of society and it is this wide-reaching desirability that will allow the Ugg boot to remain a popular choice of footwear for many years to come.

…of the name: There are numerous rumours as to how the name came about. Some say the term UGG came from the ‘fugg’ boots worn by pilots in WWI, others say the boots were first called ‘ugh’ boots because that was the sound made when one first slipped on the shoe; however the general consensus is that the term Ugg boot came from the ugly look of the original styles.

Random Facts

  • UGG AUSTRALIA is actually an American footwear company based in California
  • sheepskin lined boots can keep feet warm in temperatures as low as -30F

For more info on Ugg Boots try Wikipedia, UGG AUSTRALIA, Aussie Things. eBay or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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