A History of the Heel

We think the modern high heeled shoe traces its history to the Baroque era (early 17th century). According to one version, the first wearers were French officers, whose heavy, high leather boots had the key element of a set heel. The heels were necessary so that during riding, the leg could be held in the stirrup better.

Another version of the legend says that the first heels appeared at the riders of the Golden Horde of the 13th century Mongolian Empire. Heels were needed for a comfortable ride on horseback.

A History of the Heel

The first woman who appeared in public in her high heeled shoes …

… was Catherine de Medici. In 1533 she brought them from Florence to her wedding with the Earl of Orleans. They say that the ladies of the French court were enchanted, and the aristocrats spent the following centuries on 5-centimeter heels, trying not to fall on their faces in the literal and figurative senses of the term. Perhaps no royal fell in love with the high heel as much as Mary Tudor, Queen of England – they allowed her to appear higher in the eyes of the courtiers.

In the 17th century, high heels were popular on both military and civilian boots. Both men and women wore them. The heel of the man’s shoes could even be 7 centimeters. It is believed that fashion for such heels began with little Louis XIV, who failed to hit his growth spurt.

Somewhere at the end of the century, along with tight knitted stockings, boots began to appear that resemble today’s men’s shoes. Sometimes they were decorated more than women’s shoes. At the same time, a well-known red heel appeared, which only noblemen were allowed to wear.

But women wore shoes made of colored leather or silk brocade on a curved heel with pointed noses. They were decorated with bows, buckles, and rosettes. Sometimes the heels were so tall and thin that women could only walk on them with the aid of a walking stick. In view of such enthusiasm, the emperors had to issue special decrees regulating the height of the heels. It is clear that high heels were the privilege of the nobility and members of the royal families. Experts say that walking on such heels was not convenient, because there were no insteps.

By the way, before this century there was no difference between the left and right shoes – the pads were made the same. Thanks to the heels, which required stability, shoemakers began to differentiate the right and left shoes.

In the 18th century, heels become exclusively feminine and in fashion again. A high heel of 10-12 cm in height and varying in shape and thickness might be lined with velvet and inlaid with precious stones – in a word, a work of art. Regarding the height of the heels, the famous ladies’ man Casanova said that the ladies of the court looked “like curved kangaroos moving around the room, skipping, risking losing their balance and breaking their necks.”

From the middle of the 19th century, the silk shoes of court ladies were replaced by leather ones. And only in the 20th century does the form of shoes begin to resemble the shape of the foot, with the insoles becoming asymmetric. At the beginning of the 20th century, the shoes considered fashionable for women were lacquered or laced boots with a light top and black patent leather heels. Throughout this century, shoes came into fashion and went out of fashion again at an indecent speed. Heels did something high, then low. Sometimes they were as thin as a nail, and sometimes broad like furniture legs.

It was in the 1950s that the fashion house Dior created modern hairpin heels. This became a craze in the fashion world. Now every woman has at least some hairpin heels in her wardrobe, because they are always considered fashionable.

Do you wear heels?

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