The History of High Heels: They Were Meant for Men!

Shutterstock/miami beach forever

It’s almost a universal belief that high heels were intended for women since their inception. But is this belief right?

Well, let’s deconstruct the myth!

An Interesting Fact About High Heels

Did you know that high heels were used by male soldiers, royals, and aristocrats to mark various important occasions?

While this may sound awkward, it has been backed by various historical proofs. For example, the Savannah College of Art and Design, in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, organises a shoe exhibition that has proven that it was normal for men to wear high heels.

During the exhibition, more than 200 pairs of shoes are displayed. The collection ranges from modern shoes to traditional footwear used for various functions.

The Shocking History of High Heels

According to Rafael Gomes, the director of the shoe exhibition, high heels date back to the 15th century. The Persians designed these shoes to be worn by soldiers as a way of protecting their feet in stirrups.

It’s from Persia that the high heels spread to the rest of the world. It started when Persians migrated to Europe introducing their culture to the locals.

Male aristocrats embraced the high heels and started wearing them to appear taller and authoritative. Additionally, upper-class European women started wearing pedestal-like chopine in the late 15th century which made them extraordinarily tall.

Modernizing the High Heels

The culture of wearing high heels spread fast and by 1673, it had drawn the attention of King Louis XIV. He introduced the shoes that had remarkable red heels and soles to the French court.

What’s more interesting about the king’s decision is the fact that he restricted the shoes to the nobles.

The high heels that spread sluggishly from Persia had found their place among the royalties of Europe! It was associated with superiority, power, and privilege.

The first attempt at modernizing the shoes was made by the Chinese in the 20th century. They introduced foot-binding and mincing gait technology which was the first milestone in the production of modern high heels.

The introduction of Technicolor in 1916 further improved the production process of these shoes. The first batch of high heel shoes using the technology was released in 1939 for Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz. As a result, Dorothy’s shoes in The Wizard of Oz were silver but later changed to red!

To crown it all, the story of Cinderella shows just how important the high heel shoes have become in society. This is a virtuous girl whose social status was significantly elevated by the type of shoes she wore. Her story and the “slipper test” has spread in different continents and cultures. These slippers are used to represent power and high social status.

Bottom Line

High heels have an interesting history! Contrary to the beliefs of many, these shoes were designed for use by male soldiers on the battlefield. They later spread as Persians migrated to Europe. Today, they are largely worn by women to represent class, high social status, and power!