Although stilettos were very much the rage, 80s flats were also regularly worn, often as pointy toed as their higher heel compatriots. Whether perfectly flat or with a low chunky heel, there are plenty of comfortable 80s styles from which to choose.
A Range of 80s Flats
Flats were not very popular in the 1970s. In fact, stacked heels and platforms were worn by men and women alike. By the 1980s, women in the workplace were eager for fashion shoes that weren't heels, and designers began to comply.
The classic penny loafers, first seen in the 1950s, were a good compromise. Sometimes completely flat, other times with a chunky heel, they were shoes that worked for men, women and teens who liked a preppy look. Loafers could be worn as easily with skirts as with trousers and suited most work environments. The burgundy tone matched a lot of clothes, so they were practical shoes both for comfort and keeping one's shoe wardrobe at a minimum.
For summer, 80s flats took on an ethnic quality, as beaded moccasins, sandals, espadrilles and huaraches skyrocketed in popularity. Bold and bright colors in clothes sometimes called for the same in shoes, and this was especially easy for girls in summer with the advent of jellies. Jellies, made of PVC plastic and originally seen during World War II, could come in any color imaginable and were often sparkly. Cheap and cheerful, if not very breathable, they were an ideal summer flat for many.
This was by no means all. Women embraced flat Oxfords, ballet-style leather flats in bright colors, animal print slingback flats and jazz shoes.
The Dance Craze
With films like Fame, All That Jazz and especially Flashdance becoming enormously popular, and aerobic exercise taking off in waves, a dance look was desired by huge numbers of women, even if they never hit a dance floor or exercise class. With tops of tunics and ripped sweatshirts covering leggings and leg warmers, the outfits most often finished off with jazz shoes modified with soles more appropriate for street wear. Even when you weren't dressed like a dancer ready for class or rehearsal, jazz shoes could still add a touch of casual flair and comfort. They looked equally well with a flowing skirt of any length or trousers.
More Casual Choices
Many 80s flats also tended towards the very casual and comfortable. This was the era when it became popular and even acceptable for women of all ages to wear something more like sneakers with skirts and dresses, even at work.
A lot of women gravitated toward plain white Keds. A simple sneaker that was cuter and more stylish than a running shoe, it worked well with the popular skinny jeans of the era. One ubiquitous outfit seen on teens and grown women alike was a baggy top, skinny pale blue jeans with a zipper ankle, and Keds. A plain top paired with a flowing skirt could also be finished with Keds. In both cases, the Keds were usually worn with folded over white socks. The variants on this look were so popular, it was said that Europeans could always recognize American women abroad even before they opened their mouths because of these shoes and socks.
Bright white Keds went with everything, but a far more exciting option was Converse high or low top shoes, which were offered in a range of colors and patterns beyond the standard beige.
Punk and goth music were embraced by teens and young adults of both genders and the shoes were unisex. A girl might wear a skirt, but it was meant to be ironic - a message that very much came across when one saw her Doc Marten boots or creepers. Though these shoes do have heavy soles, they are still flat - all the better for stomping.