1940-era Footwear:

.(Many thanks to Shelby L. Stanton for English translation and additions)

''The Dangers of 
Wearing Heels''
(Link am Bild)
From 1943 edition of ''Fabrics and Dress''
''Fabrics and Dress''
Just after World War II started, Germany implemented rationing of material and leather goods, because of wartime conditions, at the end of September 1939.  As a result, shoemakers received only 6-8% of their usual prewar quotas for leather.  Thus, it became much costlier and more difficult for German consumers to obtain shoes. Manufacturing luxury footwear made of patent leather, silk, Atlas-textile or velvet was forbidden altogether.  Ladies resorted to wearing their prewar models as long as possible, or exchanging shoes (even shoe-stock exchanges developed). In addition to recommendations to let children run barefoot during summer -- in order to save wear on shoes -- official guidance on self-work and repair of shoes became increasingly frequent in needlework instructions as the war progressed.

Advertising, USA 1944In order to conserve leather, raised heels and elevated soles made of wood or cork became a favored replacement. This type of material was readily available and to make it easier to walk in these shoes, the soles were rounded in a "rocking-chair" style. In addition, especially since 1941, the increasing lack of material forced reliance on straw and grass as sanctioned substitutes, which were also deemed more suitable for self-manufacture. Other items were also employed. The year before, shoes with Plexiglas soles were introduced. Plexiglas is a shatterproof poly-plastic substance that was developed by the German art industry first. Material for the uppers often consisted of linen, gabardine, felt cloth, cord, rabbit fur and fish leather.
Leather and other raw materials were also strictly rationed under wartime emergency orders in America and England. For example, during the course of the war, official measures specified the maximum height of raised soles and ladies heels, in order to achieve maximum economic control of scarce goods.

As the war continued, elevated and wedge heels made of cork and wood appeared in many bizarre forms. It was almost as if one wanted to create a counterbalance to the triangular fashion silhouette with extremely broad shoulders and narrow hip.  For example, in the United States, the South American singer and actress Carmen Miranda wore very high wedges to offset her diminutive stature, and these caused such a sensation that they were widely imitated. 
Advertising, USA 1946 Following the end of the war, everything initially remained as before (even the rationing of leather and certain other materials was maintained until 1949). However, America suffered much less from material shortages than had wartime Europe.  In particular, California and its intrinsic film industry quickly conveyed extravagantly colorful postwar fashion trends in spike and raised heels.

Especially favored by American youth in the 1930s and 40s, the two-toned low heel saddle shoes (also popular in brown and white) were widely seen across US schoolyard and collegiate campuses.

Slightly elevated opera pumps with butterfly bow, combined suede or soft body with a band of rough leather were reserved for fall and winter seasonal wear. This Hungarian model by Unica Iseghem employs snakeskin, although American shoes would favor alligator.
Sporty blue fabric pumps with spike heels feature a nautical flair, complete with cute mini-porthole and button bow effect. These types of motifs represented trendy stylishness.
Open-toed ankle-strap high heels by The American Girl, designed for eveningwear. Shades like apple green were considered a modern touch. In 1941, the open-toed pump was the most popular type of shoe for eveningwear in the United States.
Mesh peep-toed ankle-strap high heels with bow (Capri Last version by Palter DeLiso) represent an extreme example of formal summer dresswear. Ideally, the toe should come to the edge of the shoe in peep-toe footwear.
Pale blue ankle-strap high heels by L. Miller of Fifth Avenue, featured an embroidered floral design that was a stylish with light summer gowns.
Brown suede high heels by Baker, with snakeskin vamp and decorative leather tie, were eminently suitable for Fall fashion
The blocky nature of these black suede winter shoes, with raised heels and inner lining, was only slightly offset by ornamental perforations
Ladies wedge-soled sandals in American patriotic tricolor fashion were typical of summer footwear designed for active casual wear, and harmonized with many "loyal fashion" themes of the World War II period.
Typical European wartime block-heel shoes by Graziella of Paris were styled in “rocking-chair” fashion, and made of smooth black leather with red piping. The wooden soles were affixed to synthetic rubber (Buna) outsoles.
Open heel peep-toe sports spectator black-fabric shoes with jute laces. During the war years, the composition could also include straw or baste soles.
Wartime conditions mandated leather-saving devices, such as these open-cut Cuban heels with cork soles. However, such open designs had a tendency to make the foot look large.
Two-toned footwear in contrasting colors was very fashionable. These Navy-blue suede streetwear pumps by Flex Moda feature slipper fronts with femininely decorative rims and laces.
These stylish cotton-fabric American spike heels were typical of “Calico-patch shoes”, made of leftover scraps in place of scarce leather and other wartime-rationed cloth material, and trimmed with bows or other youthfully girlish effects.
Light-gray suede ankle-strap high heels are typical of the Continental Look, which favored a closed tip instead of the open-toed design of so many comparable American and English models.
Fancy openwork ankle-strap spike heels, by Chaussures Apollo of Belgium, featured typical wartime material-rationing measures, such as leather conservation and wood-composition soles and heels.
Mesh tipped purple spike heels by Jacqueline (designed by Wohl, USA) were highlighted by extravagant touches like snakeskin portions and tiny decorative mother-of-pearl buttons.
Fashionable two-tone horsehair spike heels by Maria Christina de Luxe of Mexico with leather instep and ankle straps. The white portions made them suitable as stylish party footwear for summer evenings.
Two-tone cream suede and brown leather “Spectators” (contrasting caps and counter to the body). Summer footwear could be either all white, white and brown or white and black with heels to match.
Ankle-strap spike heels by Joseph Magnin of California-Nevada featured suede leather with decorative smooth-leather contrasts, as well as other dainty feminine rivets. 
Black suede ankle-strap spike heels by C. H. Baker of California. Very high spike heels were typical of the postwar era, and openly worn on American streets as liberation from wartime restraint.
Wine red ankle-strap spike heels by Frank Werner Co. of San Francisco-Oakland featured open tips and embossed leatherwork.
Spike heels were also called continental heels, which may have come about because spike heels were banned from wear in churches. However, continental heels (the same thing) were proper for churchgoers. Such terminology made a difference in large areas of the American countryside, although it did not extend to cosmopolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and so forth.
Dressy costume velvet raised-sole (cork) heels with instep and ankle straps, featuring transparent Vinylid vamp and satin decorative flowers.
Silver ankle-strap kid high heels were very popular because they went well with most basic colors in evening clothes.

"40's Style"

modern ''Repro''During the late 1960s, the platform shoe -- which had revolutionized women's sexual appeal in the 1930s and 1940s -- experienced its first revival when reintroduced by Roger Vivier in Paris (also attributed to Yves Saint Laurent).  In contrast to the earlier models with tapered spike heels, the revised version had a bolder straight tall heel and thicker mid-sole commonly made of covered cork. Thereafter the platforms, often simply called "plats", became immensely popular in the United States within the 70s.
Today's available fashionable neo-40s reproductions also exhibit heel-shape differences from the originals. A few examples are shown here. The red platforms have a chunkier heel, the yellow platforms feature a 20s-style Louis XV heel-type, and the duotone "party plats" have a curveless-upright spike-shaped heel.

modern ''Repro''modern ''Repro''modern ''Repro''