How Did We Get Here? The History of High Heels

  • By Olivia Sentosa

How Did We Get Here? The History of High Heels

How Did We Get Here? The History of High Heels

From functional to fashionable, the history of the high heel is long and exciting, much like the shoes themselves. Most people have no idea about how the heels we buy today have evolved over the years, and so this article is designed to give you an insight into the most important milestones along the way. The original heels produced were unlike anything you might see in high street fashion stores today, and they had a functional purpose other than making you look tall and thin.

With that in mind, take a moment to read through this post and discover everything you need to know about the history of the high heel and how it changed over the years.

Vintage Shoe

High heels were for men

Shoe historian Cameron Kippen claims that high heels were first produced for men rather than women, and they were designed for warriors and horse riders who needed to hold their bodies tight to the saddle. The heel helped them to stay on their horses during battles and when travelling at high speeds. That’s right! There were hundreds, if not thousands of men prancing around in heels and nobody batted an eyelid.

Within a few years, heels became popular and fashionable items for Kings and other high-ranking and wealthy members of society. As time went on, manufacturing prices decreased, and average people (those who weren’t royalty!) could afford to invest in the footwear. However, high heels remained very much a masculine product until the 16th Century.

Catherine de Medici was the first woman to wear heels

While opinions vary on the real history, many experts believe that Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, was the first woman to wear a pair of high heeled shoes during the 16th Century. According to historians, Catherine de Medici was a short lady measuring only 150 cm tall, and she wanted to gain some height for her wedding. Right up until that point, many women chose to wear platform shoes to achieve that goal, and some of them measured as high as 60 cm. The issue was that many women would trip or fall over when wearing platforms. So, in the interest of safety, shoe-innovators carved out the front of the platform to help provide better balance for the wearer.

Calculations to do with balance have certainly come a long way.  Check out how Shoes by Shaherazad achieve optimum body weight distribution within heels to make them ultra comfortable from the boardroom to the bar.

King Louis XIV of France loved high heels

Some 200 years later, during the reign of King Louis XIV of France, high heels once again became a popular choice for men. The difference this time was that the shoes were not considered a functional item. While many people still used horses to get from one place to another, improvements in saddle design meant that heels were no longer essential for stability. Instead, noblemen and those with lots of money would invest in heels as somewhat of a status symbol. At the time, women were back to wearing low heels, but many men wanted to look tall and sturdy. King Louis XIV of France was so fond of the shoes that he even gave his name to a famous style. Louis wore red heels as a rule, and nobody else in his court was permitted to wear anything similar.  Diva like tendencies perhaps or a sign of nobility?

Vintage Crown and Book

Stilettos arrived after the war

Over time, the price of high heeled shoes began to reduce, and mass production started to take hold. That meant that people from the general population could afford to buy the footwear and experience its benefits. However, right up until the end of the Second World War, high heels were still clunky and uncomfortable according to most reports and photos we can see today.

Designers came up with the stiletto after using a metal rod to join the inside of the shoes so that the heel and foot area could move independently. That allowed the shoes to bend and twist with the foot for improved comfort. Once shoe manufacturers learned about the technique, thousands of new products hit the market, and they were some of the first heels that look and feel similar to the ones you can buy from the high street today. There were many warnings and concerns about the dangers of stiletto heels, with some people claiming they would cause deformations in women who wore them too often. However, those concerns soon disappeared, and the stiletto remains one of the most popular high heel styles in production.

The heel on Shoes by Shaherazad collections is 3 inches.

The future is comfortable

It’s hard to predict the future of high heels because nobody knows when a new concept or manufacturing method will reach the market and revolutionise the industry. However, one thing is for sure - most new heels are designed with comfort in mind although very few actually achieve this. There is no getting away from the fact that stilettos and similar shoes cause a lot of pain and discomfort for the wearer if not designed or manufactured correctly.

That is why Shoes by Shaherazad has become exceptionally popular in recent times. Both the designer and customers recognise that comfortable heels are the best solution for women who want to look their best from the boardroom to the bar.

Shoes by Shaherazad designs, creates and sells a modern take on the high heel that’s developed for up to 18 hours of comfortable wear.

Yes, you read that right. 18 hours of comfortable wear as evidenced right here in these independent reviews!

Red heels and book

Lots of women have stressful jobs these days, and so it’s no surprise they’re moving towards heels that aren’t going to make their feet ache before home time.  And even without a stressful job, who wants aching feet anyway?  Not me.

After reading this information, you should have a reasonable understanding of the history of high heels and how the products you love buying came to fruition.

Blush Pink heels


Feel free to share this article with any heel-loving friends, and make sure you remember all the facts because you never know when they might help you to win that quiz or competition.

Whatever your opinion on heels; you have to admit that stylish footwear has come a long way since those horse-riding warrior days.

I certainly wouldn't be without my comfortable and stylish 18 hour heels from Shoes by Shaherazad. 

Stand Tall,

Livvie X

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