Although thanks must be given to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks for their creative thought around high heeled shoes, the modern heels that we know and love today actually gained popularity in the 1500’s. Unfortunately, thanks must be given to the opposite sex who sported heels to prevent them from sliding out of stirrups (while riding horse back). According to curiosity.com, during this era the wearing of heels was actually a sign of great affluence, so much so that the word “wealthy” is thought to originate from the phrase “well heeled” (it would appear to some degree things haven’t changed, put on a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s and you get the same effect). The 1600’s saw ladies donning heels in a bid to appear more masculine. Much to the modern woman’s delight this had the opposite effect and saw men retreating from heels in droves to avoid looking feminine. Thankfully we’ve held on tight to them since.
According to History of Heels, the rise of the ladies heel as a symbol of high fashion has been credited to the diminutive Catherine de Medici, who in 1533 at the of 14 was engaged to the future King of France, the Duke of Orleans, who was acclaimed to be tall (and as the future King of France must have also been dark and handsome). Having to compete for the Duke’s attention (of course there was a mistress) Catherine had to find a way to counter the height disparity between them and, with the poor girl being unable to rely on good looks or charm, she had to get creative to attract the Duke’s attention. So Catherine paved the way for us all and strode out in a pair of 2 inch heels and stole the show. Much to her delight, not only did it have the desired effect of curtailing the height issue, it also gave her the trademark sexy sway synonymous with heels (you go girl) and let’s assume they lived happily ever after.
So the next time my husband speaks up about me spending too much on shoes I’ll remind him that if men didn’t want women to spend copious amounts of money on heels they should never have given them up to us in the first place, but thank god they did.
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