2 Types of Heels Worn by Classic Movie Actresses That Are Still Popular Today

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

1. Lucite Heels

If you’re a true Marilyn Monroe fan, then you’ve seen plenty of pictures of Monroe wearing a pair of clear platform heels with ribbon straps. These heels are fashionable, iconic, and unique. I always loved these heels and wondered what kind of shoes they were since I’ve never seen them anywhere else and wondered where I could find a pair like them.

History of Lucite

Eventually, I discovered that those were Lucite heels, the same kind of heels many celebrities wear variations of today, and that strippers are famous for wearing. Lucite heels are any pair of heels that have a clear heel and/or clear straps. Lucite is a brand of acrylic, the material used to create these shoes. The acrylic starts off as a soft resin or gum that is molded and hardened to make these heels. Scientifically this material is known as poly (methyl methacrylate) and this substance is a thermoplastic which means that it turns soft or liquidity when heated and hard when cooled. Lucite can be heated and cooled numerous times without modification to its chemical properties. Lucite, also, is lightweight and a lot more shatter-resistant than glass, which made it very popular for use in cars, clothing, furniture, and other items. The material was created around the early 1930s by British chemists in England and by chemist and industrialist Otto Röhm in Germany for ICI Acrylics (now Lucite International) who were looking to create safety glass for military purposes. The military needed a material with properties similar to glass but would not cause the damage that glass does when it explodes or is broken. Acrylic was commercially sold in 1933 as Perspex and Plexiglas. Non-military applications of the material began after World War II ended, and the DuPont Company began producing its own acrylic under the trademark, Lucite. Lucite was used to create shoes, purses, jewelry, and furniture. By the 1960s, it was very popular material, especially in furniture and designers such as Karl Springer, Vladimir Kagan, Charles Hollis Jones and Gaetano Sciolari often used it in their work.

Marilyn Monroe’s Lucite Heels

It is said that these were one of Monroe’s favorite pairs of heels. She had these heels from around 1948 to 1954, and it appears that she had different pairs, but that is not the case. Monroe would change the color of ribbon to match the swimsuit or outfit she was wearing. Many other actresses and models of the time such as Jayne Mansfield wore Lucite heels as they were trendy since fashion designers had to find ways to utilize the material after World War II ended. Actresses and models likewise wore Lucite heels because these heels elongated their legs making them appear taller and more statuesque.

Modern Celebrities Wearing Lucite

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, Chrissy Teigen and Kylie Jenner all wear Lucite shoes. And not to mention exotic dancers who have been wearing them since the 1980's.

2. Marabou Slippers & Mules

Marabou heels are thought to be sensual or feminine/girlie fashion wear. They are often worn with lingerie or other types of revealing clothing. And they long have been associated with negligees, baby doll gowns, and nightgowns. This imagery is due in part that so many sex symbols of the Golden Era of Hollywood donned these popular heels. And many Hollywood actresses were photographed wearing a combination of a negligee and marabou mules for glamorous studio photos. Some of the actresses who have donned marabou heels include Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth.

Origin of Mules and Slippers

Mules are a style of shoe that does not have a back or strap supporting the foot's heel. They date back to ancient Rome, Turkey, and Egypt, and became popular to wear in 16th century Europe. For many decades, mules were a shoe worn only at home and only as house slippers. As time went by mules evolved into a shoe worn outside, as well. You can find mules and slippers in paintings from different times and cultures. And as mentioned earlier many popular actresses have worn mules on-screen and in photographs.

Origin of Marabou

Since the late 19th century, marabou feathers have been used as clothes trimming. Marabou feathers are named after the marabou stork whose found in the Arabian Peninsula. The undertail down of this stork once provided the feathers which made these feathers quite expensive and rare. However, marabou is no longer employed in fashion for ethical reasons. Today, the plumage of factory-farmed undeveloped turkeys and chickens are used as a substitute for marabou feathers. In appearance they are very similar to marabou and are inexpensive. You can still find genuine marabou feathers on fashion items created before the 20th century. Marabou has many characteristics that makes it popular for fashion. One being that marabou feathers are soft making them comfortable for wear. Also, these feathers are fine, but thick and fluffy making them ideal for trimming. Additionally, marabou takes dye well therefore it can be dyed an assortment of colors. At one point of time these feathers were a more ethical substitute for fur before both were determined unethical to wear since animals were killed only for their feathers or fur. It uses in fashion include trimming robes, coats, shoes, etc. as well as for making feather boas.

Contemporary Celebrities Wearing Marabou Mules

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Solange, Kourtney Kardashian, Charli XCX, Ellie Goulding, and Lucy Mecklenburgh all have been seen wearing marabou heels.