Well here’s something that I was surprised to learn. High heels were originally made for men, not women. But they weren’t used solely for fashion either. To tell you the truth, they weren’t used for fashion at all. In reality, unlike today where they are used by mainly women for fashion and are unwieldy, high heels were originally used for horse riding, to actually make the task easier.
Today it is only ever thought of that high heels are a woman’s footwear. But has it always been that way? The short answer is no. Going back in history high heels were originally worn by men.
The first recorded use of high heels was of horse riders from the Near East in the 9th century AD. The high heels aided the rider in placing his feet into the stirrups. Evidence of this was found on a bowl from 9th century Persia. Evidence of this use can still be found in cowboy boots still in use today.
Fast forward 700 years to 17th century Europe. The first use in European society was by the aristocracy who wore them as a status symbol. The theory behind it was that only a person who did not need to work would wear something so impracticable. Oddly enough this is the same logic used in China with feet binding.
So with men being the main wearers of heels, why did women start to wear them? After all, they’re not comfortable and can be unbalancing. Why would women want to be placed in such foot attire? It came down to masculinity. Women first started wearing high heels to exhibit masculine power, and to match it with the more socially dominate men of the time.
For us lower classes, the peasants of the world, we finally began to wear high heels to emulate the aristocracy. So it wasn’t only the women who wanted to show off, it was the normal average people too. This is where it got ridiculous. Because the commoners were now wearing high heels, the more wealthy couldn’t be outdone. The upper echelons of society then started making the shoes thinner and the heels higher to exhibit their position in society. Surely there would have been a simpler, more comfortable, and may I say saner way to show off ones wealth and social status.