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A brief look at high heels through the ages


The heeled shoe has been around for centuries, high heels have been a fashion statement for nearly as long,

The raised heel is thought to have been developed to prevent a riders foot slipping forward in the stirrup, the 'riders heel', approximately 4cm high, appeared around 1500.  Frenchmen adopted and adapted the heel which became higher and thinner and by the late 1600's men's heels were between 3-4".  A 'must have' for the fashion conscious ladies and gentlemen at the court of France quickly became de rigeur for nobility throughout the world. 

 Heels remained fashionable throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - the phrase "well-heeled" being synonymous with opulent wealth - only falling from the fashion pages at the time of the French Revolution because of their association with wealth and the aristocracy.  They didn't make a fashion come-back until the late 1800's, this time almost exclusively among women.

During the last 60 years,high heels have fallen in and out of favour several times - attracting adjectives as diverse as elegant to vulgar, submissive to aggressive.  Hollywood glamorised them in the 1950's and 60's - the stars photographed attending film premiers or being escorted to dinner and the theatre, cocktail dresses, evening wraps and the matching clutch bag, or the image of the sex-siren starlet drinking champagne from her stiletto in the Dolce Vita.  The 70's saw the (white) stiletto as compulsory uniform for the 'dance round your handbag' clubbers whilst feminists rejected them as a symbol for the subordination and objectifying of women, designed to make woman helpless and vulnerable.  The punk era gave them a fetish association whilst the Dallas & Dynasty years gave them power dresser status.

Today, high heels are a must have accessory for every fashion conscious woman, the strong modern woman has embraced the sky-high stiletto, no shop-until-you-drop retail therapy is complete without another pair of must have heels...

Ladies - a cautionary note- practice wearing them at home until fully confident.  The teetering, side ankle dipping walk isn't the look you are aiming for and a white plaster cast will never be seen as a 'must have' fashion accessory!