High heels have become a going out necessity for many women (especially those of us on the shorter side), but did you know they were originally designed for men?
And it may come as a surprise to learn that they weren’t even designed for walking in.
Actually, maybe that’s not so surprising…
Heels were originally designed as riding shoes, worn by men in the near east for centuries.
And women only started wearing them to look more androgynous.
According to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, which currently has an exhibition on men’s shoes, heels were first worn by Persian horsemen in order to help them secure their stance in stirrups.
At the end of the 16th century, Persian culture sparked a number of new fashion trends across Europe – including the heel, which was seen as virile and masculine.
In the 17th century, heels were particularly popular with the slightly height-challenged French king, Louis XIV.
At just 5’4″, heels gave him an edge.
The heels and soles of his shoes were always red – dyed with an expensive pigment that signified wealth and status.
To make the shoes even more special, in the 1670s Louis XIV ruled that only members of his court were allowed to wear shoes with red heels.
Around the 1630s, women started cutting their hair, smoking pipes and wearing heels to adopt fashionable masculine styles.
Heels were more or less unisex until the end of the 17th century, when men’s heels became lower and more robust – and women’s became more slender.
With the Enlightenment, around the beginning of the 18th century, came more of a focus on practicality rather than status in men’s fashion. By 1740, heels were seen as foolish – and men had stopped wearing them.
And after the French revolution, 50 years later, women stopped wearing them too.
It was only in the mid-19th century that they came back into fashion – and were featured in erotic photographs of women taken by French pornographers.
Some reckon this is why heels are now considered so sexy.