The Birth of the High-Heel
The heeled shoe emerged in Western Europe in the late sixteenth century as a result of Eastern influences and its particular usefulness for horse riding. By the mid-seventeenth century the heel had been become deeply associated with wealth and social status. Men, women and children from the upper classes would wear heels. By the late seventeenth century the high-heel started to emerge as the upper classes adopted higher heels probably in a response to heels filtering down to the middle and working classes. Men’s high-heels evolved into a thicker heel, while women’s heels became more delicate.
The Modern High-heel
High-heels are almost exclusively worn by women, but there use is wide-ranging from the very formal to informal situations.
High-Heels in Men’s Footwear
Despite high-heels originating in male footwear, since the late eighteenth century, very few men’s shoes have had high-heels. The two notable exceptions are cowboy boots, and a short trend in the 1970s for high-heeled shoes for men. There has been a continued growth since the 1990s for high-heels in men’s footwear, but it is still very much a niche market.
Medical research suggests the unnatural position that high-heels positions the foot can increase the risk of many foot conditions. Podiatrists recommend that high-heel use should be limited.