A brief style history of the plimsoll

The plimsoll- reliable, unassuming and an absolute classic.  Canvas pumps have now become a permanent fixture in most of our wardrobes.

But this wasn’t always the case.

Turns out we have the Victorians to thank for our love affair with the plimsoll.  These simple canvas shoes became popular as ‘sand shoes’ and were worn mainly by day trippers to the beach. Over the years their popularity has grown and we now rely on them as a stylish but practical everyday shoe.

Below we take you through some of our favourite style moments of the plimsoll.  If, like us, you are an avid wearer, you will see that you are in good company.


 Canvas shoes for sport Ava Gardner




Oh, the days when people used to dress up to play tennis! Ava Gardner is seen here in the 1940’s looking unbelievably chic in her midi skirt, blouse and canvas pumps.  An ensemble that still works to this day (although perhaps not for leaping around).


 Audrey Hepburn fashion canvas plimsolls glamour resortwear




50’s style icon Audrey Hepburn is renowned for her elegant wardrobe. However, Audrey Hepburn also enthusiastically championed flat, comfortable shoes (including her canvas plimsolls) as not only acceptable but also super chic. We ladies have a lot to thank her for!


Jean Birkin fashion canvas shoes 




The epitome of lady-back, easy going style, 70’s IT girl Jane Birkin frequently sported worn-in denim, men’s shirts with her cuffs rolled up and her favourite white canvas plimsolls (when she wasn’t going bare foot).  It is a style that we like to think sums up the Hampton canvas lifestyle – cool, casual and above all, comfortable.


Vintage retro Dirty Dancing fashion plimsolls 




In the 80s, the little white pump made a comeback thanks to Baby.  Her white ‘mom jeans’, peasant top and white canvas shoes is a timeless combination that still works equally well on the beach in Cornwall as it does yachting around the South of France.


 Retro 90's fashion Friends Rachel Green Jennifer Aniston




You can’t mention the 90’s with mentioning Rachel from friends.  Her haircut alone inspired a generation of women!  Dungarees, oversized blazers and her trusty canvas plimsolls made up the backbone of her weekend wardrobe.


Alexa Chung style icon plimsolls canvas shoes 




With her classic Brit girl style, Alexa Chung has been a constant fixture on our style radar for the last decade.  Her sartorial choices are often fashion forward but always easy to wear with Breton tops, denim and her go-to canvas plimsolls making regular appearances.


What is your favourite look and how do you wear yours?  Join the conversation on our Instagram and Facebook.