High heels have been for generations signified femininity and glamour. Beautiful, provocative, sexy-high heels may be all these things and more but some women loath wearing them and yet they do it on the basis of beauty and fashion. I talked to a few women who confessed that men are actually attracted to women in high heels.
why? I ask.. and they say it gives them more confidence in terms of body shape and they get a feeling of how their dream six foot man looks like.In the end I concluded high heels don’t tend to be very comfortable it’s almost as though they just weren’t designed for walking in.
However a pair of high heels was once an essential accessory for men, especially the soldiers. In Persia, (modern day Iran), soldiers wore high heels. When he stood up his stirrups, the heel helped him secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively. At the end of the 16th century, Persia’s Shah Abbas I had the greatest cavalry in the world. He was keen to forge links with rulers in Western Europe to help him defeat his great enemy, the Ottoman Empire.
So in 1599, Abbas sent the first Persian diplomatic mission to Europe. A wave of interest in all things Persian style shoes were enthusiastically adopted by aristocrats, who sought to give their appearance a virile, masculine edge that suddenly seemed only heels could supply. As the wearing of heels filtered into the lower ranks of society, the aristocracy responded dramatically by increasing the height of their shoes-and thus the high heel was born. In the muddy, rutted streets of 17th century, these new shoes had no utility value whatsoever-but that was the point.One of the best ways that status can be conveyed is through impracticality as the upper classes used impractical uncomfortable and luxurious clothing to announce their privileged status. They weren’t in the fields working and they didn’t have to walk far. It was the perfect shoe to draw a line between the privileged and the mere peasants.
When it comes to history’s most notable shoe collectors, the Imelda Marcos of our time, was arguably Louis XIV of France. For a great king he was rather diminutively proportioned at only 5ft 4inch. (1. 3m) He supplemented his stature by a further 4 inches with heels often decorated with depictions of battle scenes elaborately.
The heels and soles were always red-the dye was expensive and carried a martial overtone. The fashion spread overseas-Charles II of England’s coronation portrait of 1661 features him wearing a pair of enormous red, French style heels. In 1670’s, Louis XIV issued an addict that only members of his court were allowed to wear red heels.
In theory, anyone in French society had to check whether someone was in favour if the in to glance downwards.In practice, unauthorized imitation heels were available. Although the Europeans were the first to be attracted to heels because the Persian connection gave them a macho air, a craze in women’s fashion for adopting elements of mens dress meant their use soon spread to women and children. In 1630’s women cut their hair adding epaulettes to their outfits.
They smoked pipes and wore very masculine hats. Owing to this they soon adopted the heels in an effort to masculinise their outfits. From that time, Europe’s upper classes followed a unisex shoe fashion until the end of the 17th century.The men’s heel started to have a squarer, more robust, lower stacky heel, while the womens became more slender and more curvaceous. The toes of the womens shoes were often tapered so that when the tips appeared from her skirts, the wearer’s feet appeared to be small and dainty. Fast forward a few years later and the intellectual movement that came to be known as the Enlightment brought with it a new respect for the rational and useful and an emphasis on education rather than privilege.
Men’s fashion thus shifted towards more practical clothing.In England aristocrats began to wear simplified shoes that linked to their work. This marked the beginning of what has been termed as the Great Male renunciation, which could see men abandon wearing of jewellery, bright colours and ostentatious fabrics in favour of a dark, more sober and homogeneous look. The boundaries between the sexes became more pronounced.
By 1740,men had stopped wearing them altogether. But it was only 50 years before they disappeared from womens feet too, falling out of favour after the French Revolution.By the time the heel came back into fashion, in the mid-19th century ,photography was transforming the fashion industry and the female-self-image was constructed. Pornographers were among the first to embrace the new found technology taking naked pictures of naked women for dirty postcard, positioning models in poses that resembled classical nudes but wearing modern day heels. It is believed that the association of heels and pornography is seen as an erotic adornment for women which explains why women of today say that wearing heels actually attracts men.The 1960’s saw the return of the low heeled cow boy boots for men and some dandies strutted their stuff in platform shoes in the 1970’s.
But the era of men walking in heels has seemed to have passed us. Not ignoring the fact that history has been well known of repeating itself, in our modern day age the only way that men may revert to wearing heels is if there is true gender equality. If it becomes a signifier of actual power then men will be as willing to wear it as women. Only time will tell.