High heels are by far one of the most popular (and important,) items in a women’s closet and without their remarkable history we would be heel-less.
It is believed that Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) brought high heels in Vogue for women. We can all thank this fashion forward royal who insisted on wearing high heels on her wedding day to boost her short stature.
The heel in France then became a status symbol of higher classes. In the early 1700s men like King Louis XIV decided to wear high heels and made it illegal for anyone who was not from the noble classes to wear heels higher then his 5-inch heels. However, the shoe was quickly banned after the French Revolution when Napoleon came to power.
In the New World in the Puritan Massachusetts Colony a law was passed that banned women from using heels to seduce men, as women wearing them were believed to be witches.
Not until the middle of the 19th century did high heels become a more widespread fashion accessory. The invention of the sewing machine made it possible for a greater variety of heels to be made.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that emerging fashion designers entered the fashion world and more and more heels appeared in stores and on Hollywood actresses. Women’s stilettos and heeled boots were introduced and the high heel became an integral part of a women’s wardrobe.
Then with the emergence of the feminist movement in the 60’s, feminist groups began to criticize the high heel, seeing it as a “man made” object that slowed the progress of women.
Finally, women came to their senses by the 1980s and heels were seen as a part of power dressing, giving the women a sense of height, power and authority.
Today we can spot high heels just about everywhere we look. From the boardroom, to the subway to the catwalk and thankfully, it doesn’t look like they will be going anywhere any time soon! You know what they say, “The higher the heel, the closer to God!”