When we think of high heels, our mind automatically think of women wearing them. However, you’d be surprised to hear that historically men were the first to rock a stiletto heel. It’s fair to say we’ve come a long way since then, and high heels have evolved so much over time.
As the name suggests, a high heel shoe is a form of footwear with a heel higher than those of a normal flat shoe and positions the heel at an angle higher than the toes. Traditionally these shoes gained popularity as a way to make wearers appear taller. Today, high heels are used to make a bold fashion statement in a way that is hard to ignore.
Only the Posh Could Prance
As we all know, high heels come in a range of different sizes, styles, colours, and materials - and are popular with girls worldwide. However, did you know that that the right to wear heels was restricted to only the most privileged members of society until a few centuries back? Shocking we know!
Butchers Slayed Slingbacks
Meanwhile ancient Egyptian murals depict nobles of the day donning high heel shoes., while the general public walked barefoot - so unfair! However, it was common practice for butchers of the time to slip on a slingback in order to prevent walking barefoot over animal carcasses! Turns out heels are a practical work shoe after all. Elsewhere, the Greeks and Romans wore buskins with high heels to suggest their class.
Soldiers Also Sashayed
In the 10th Century, Parisian horse soldiers also preferred a stiletto for practical reasons. Apparently, the angle of a heel helped keep their feet in the right position in their stirrups! Following this heels began to be associated with the upper class, where it spread through western Europe. Who knew the boys in blue were such trendsetters!
Beauty Was Pain
The 15th to mid-17th century saw a huge shift in fashion regarding the practicality of heels, as chopines grew in popularity in Europe. Women often wore 30-inch tall chopines that required them to seek help while walking - we know beauty is pain but DAMN girl! Meanwhile, in China and Turkey heels were used to prevent concubines from running away. Thank god feminism happened!
Out with the Old and In with the New
After the 1660’s men decided heels were impractical and not for them, while women wanted to take them to new levels. By the 18th century, men called it quits with heels, and they feel out of fashion after the French Revolution before picking up again in the 19th century with the invention of photography. From this point, high heels became the fashion staple we know today, synonymous with glamour.
Comfort Became King
High heels gained a new level of popularity with the pin-up girls of the 20th century. Over time, the average woman began to adopt this trend, seeing high heeled shoes make their way out of the dark rooms and onto the streets. This is where the need for more comfortable high heel designs arose, causing a boom in heel manufacturing. Today we are spoilt for choice when it comes to high heels, and it’s these trailblazing women we have to thank!
Fancy buying into a historical piece of fashion design? Check out our amazing collection of high heels below!