why were heels invented

Why were heels invented?

What if we say that high heels were originally made solely for men? 

In a time where stilettos and platforms are always correlated with feminine style and female sexuality, that fact might come as a wonder — but actually, it shouldn’t. 

In fact, for decades high heeled shoes established their spot on the feet of male troopers, aristocrats, and even royals in various parts of the globe for very specific reasons.

And when it comes to the unexpected history of heeled shoes, that’s just the clue of the iceberg.

Let’s dive into the history of high-heeled shoes and know some interesting facts:

History of high heeled shoes

There are a bunch of explanations for why women love to wear high heels today. 

Some of them are to spruce up an outfit or elongate one’s silhouette, but centuries back, high-heeled shoes served an extensively different purpose.

High-heeled shoes are generally a signifier of sexiness, femininity, glamour, and prestige through the eras but somehow this is an incomplete fact.

High heels weren’t even initially invented for women, surprising right?

According to a study conducted by Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, who traces and follows their history to Persian men in the 10th century, who wore heeled shoes when on horseback so their feet would settle better in the stirrups. 

This sensation was then accepted by Europeans at the turn of the 17th century.

There is an extended history of males wearing heels for equestrian purposes, “As we all know, cowboys wear heels.”

The high heels were initially practically made to function and not for fashion, especially during times of war or battles.

The heel was a supplementary tool allowing the rider to stabilize himself, thus utilizing weaponry better and transforming warfare.

Worldwide Turning Point of Heels among women

But shortly after the men’s era of wearing heels, women started to embrace the look just like embracing boyfriend jeans and button-up shirts currently, right? 

By the 18th century, high-heeled shoes were extensively considered women’s footwear. 

They gradually began to take the structure we are familiar with presently that is with a thinner heel and a pointed toe.

But the significance of wearing heels was barely to look good in a miniskirt.

Women in the 1700s wore high heels to make their feet look tinier.

As beauty standards shifted, one of the principles that came up was that beautiful women had very tiny feet.

The high heels put out of sight the majority of a woman’s foot under her skirt, so she could just show the tiny part of the shoe, the toes, from beneath the skirt.

People talk all the time and think that women wear heels as it elongates their legs or makes them look taller or thinner, but in fact, the practice of the high heel is very modern and recent.

Previously it had nothing to do with prolonging the leg because most of the legs were hidden under the skirts, so no one hardly cared! 

It was just about presenting a small foot to match the beauty ideals of that time. 

Evolution of heels

At that time, heels were primarily made of wood, so they could only be made so thin.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that shoemakers began to use steel for high-heeled shoes, meaning that they could be thinner and still support a woman’s body pressure.

That was when the stiletto was invented when you got those incredibly thin, needle-like high heels. Previous to that, it was just a dreamy fantasy.”

The takeaway

Of course, any self-respecting high-heeled shoe lover knows that’s barely the end of the story. 

Heels have kept going to evolve and growing, from platforms to wedges to armadillo boots and many more.

Who realized that shoes were so complex, right? But at least the next time when someone says that your pumps aren’t practical, you can counter back: “Well, they used to be practical.”

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