We currently live in an age where no one bats an eye at the mention of a foot facial, nor is it not abnormal to have a full-blown pedicure station built into a cafe, because who doesn’t fancy a foot massage with their Red Eye, right? But even before there were extravagant treatments for our tootsies, over a dozen different nail lacquer finishes, and the ubiquitously beloved Baby Foot, people found ways to care for their feet in one way or another.
Dialing it back to the 1920s, we saw the very first surge of foot and leg care products, developed specifically due to the fact that rising hemlines became increasingly popular during that decade. Fast forward another 10 years and we have Revlon to thank for creating the first-ever pigments for its nail lacquers. The 1940s brought way to foot-care kits called “War Workers,” which were made for the people standing on their feet in factories all day long. Said kits were the first over-the-counter solutions for concerns like blisters and athletes foot.
As the ’50s rolled around, so did Revlon’s legendary Fire & Ice campaign in which the brand launched an orangey-red polish that turned into the toe color of the decade. (In case you haven’t noticed, Revlon is one of the biggest figures in polish-and-pedi history.) I know it’s hard to believe that there was a time when just one red nail polished existed, no? Now, there are hundreds, easily.
As the years went by, new technology took off, including the infamous spa pedicure chair that became a game-changer in the ’80s. Along with the aforementioned advancements, beauty lovers also saw the emergence of new toe color trends, like the purple-berry hue Uma Thurman made a phenomenon in the ’90s when she wore it in Pulp Fiction.
Needless to say, developments in foot care have come a long, long way. Thankfully, there are now countless lotions, creams, exfoliants, and so on to treat your feet to the TLC they want and need. To see what foot care looked like over the last 100 years, tune in to the video above.
1920s: Yandy.com dress, $30. yandy.com. A-Morir headband, $450. Available by email at email@example.com. Carel Paris shoes, $325. carel.fr. Falke tights. falke.com.
1930s: G.H. Bass & Co. weejuns, $110. ghbass.com.
1940s: Dolce Nome shoes, $59. modcloth.com.
1950s: Soludos sandal, $65. soludos.com.
1970s: Chiara Ferragni boots, $419. luisaviaroma.com. Chanel boots, $1,200. Available at select CHANEL Boutiques nationwide. Ellery boots, $1,900. ellery.com.
1980s: Eres robe, $835. net-a-porter.com.
1990s: Rocket Dog sandals, $40. rocketdog.com. Catbird rings, $44 – 56. catbirdnyc.com.
2000s: Eve’s Addiction necklace (worn as anklet), $70. evesaddiction.com. Scosha anklet, $220. scosha.com. Paige Novick anklet, $535. paigenovick.com.
2010: Lady Grey ring, $156. ladygreyjewelry.com. Shinola ring, $990. shinola.com. Catbird rings, $64 – $198. catbirdnyc.com.
Read more stories about feet:
While you’re here, learn about the last 100 years of manicures: