7 INSIGHTS ON HEELS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED.

I love all shoes under one condition: They must have heels. In other words you won’t find ballerinas in my wardrobe and the only flats I own are sport and running shoes. High heels force one to walk tall and make more of one’s outfit.

Yes, yes, I know that high heels have all sorts of disadvantages but if one is obsessed… Before I dwell about them I will tell you something about the heels’ past.

The History of Heels

From what I read we know very little about the origin of heels but their history started more than 2000 years ago. What seems pretty clear though is that they first were invented for practical (yes, indeed!) reasons.

In ancient Egypt butchers wore shoes with heels to avoid walking in blood and the Mongolian horseman wore boots with heels since it was easier to keep the feet in the stirrups. I am not so sure about the latter since I also learned that the Mongolians did not use saddles at all so why should they need stirrups?

The first record of heels of being a fashionable accessory is is 1553 when Catherine de’ Medici married the Duke of Orléans. She wanted to look taller and therefore brought high heels from her hometown Florence to France where they quickly found a lot of fans. During the following century women wore 12-centimetre-heels. Unfortunately they were so uncomfortably “shaky” that these ladies depended on a walking stick to keep the balance. Along with the doom of the French monarchy these heels also vanished. I am not surprised. This takes me to the next chapter

7 Rules to Wear High Heels Right

If it comes to heels I have quite something to tell. In order to avoid bad buy I recommend the following:

  1. Stilettos with 12 centimetre (or more) heels are for special occasions.
    Period.
  2. Watch the anatomy of your foot.
    The French ladies could not walk in their shoes because as I suspect the streets were not what they are today and the shoes were anatomically wrong. All shoes should be comfortable but with high heels it is even more important. Make sure you feel the inner sole of the shoe on your entire foot. Often I observe “hollow space” between heel and toes. This puts far too much pressure on your toes, causes pain and looks awful because you cannot really walk in such shoes.
  3. High Heels are a matter of cost. Do not try to buy cheap.
    I once spoke to a shoe maker about this. She explained to me that heels are pre-fabricated in specific factories. The good ones are expensive; even for shoe makers. Moreover, the heel must be in the correct angle to the shoe itself. I (my feet, to be precise) found out that this is only the case with expensive shoes. Plus they are made of soft leather which makes them comfortable
  4. You want to wear the same pair of shoes all day, right?
    At least I do. Therefore it is important to know that high heels are not necessarily very thin ones. If you walk over cobblestone in heels you need stronger ones with a diameter of about 1.5 to 2 centimetres.
  5. Only buy the height you feel comfortable with.
    If you are already tall you might be happy with a tiny heel. Whatever your height do not buy any thing you already feel in the shop that you cannot make it more than an hour.
  6. Find a good shoe maker.
    Heels are very easy to damage since the possibilities to get stuck somewhere, rip of the rubber of the heel are endless. Only well-tended heels are elegant heels.
  7. If you climb the Mount Everest forget about heels.
    I hate to admit it but there are situations where high heels are – quite literally – a no go. If you go hiking “off the beaten tracks” wear shoes that allow you to do so. You don’t want your feet killing you since this will also be the end of your high heel career.

I am quite sure that many of you already shop according to these maxim. After all they come from common sense not from rocket science.

SHOES NOT MADE FOR WALKING.

Last week we spoke about sandals which is probably the oldest shoe model. This time it is about slippers. As the name suggest we are talking about shoes that are easy to put on. The downside is that they are not tough enough for real life but only made to be beautiful (according to the taste of the time).

Some History

Typically made of embroidered silk or brocade and decorated with precious jewels they clearly were a status symbol. The soles of slippers were often also made of textile or thin leader which means the feet would get wet from a single raindrop.

Red slippers made of silk-brocade have been the traditional footwear for bishops during a long time. When Elisabeth I was enthroned in 1559 silk slippers with heels were the latest fashion for women and men.

Only the working class had “real” shoes and it is says that Marie Antoinette had a servant whose only job it was to look after her 700 pairs of slippers. I don’t know if she also had other types of shoes and if they were tended by another person…

Modern Slippers

Slippers are still manufactured by many designers. However, they have become real shoes for real people.

Brands like Manolo Blahnik, Bally or Baldinini create exclusive models. And they are made for walking. In style!

INSIGHTS ON CINDERALLA, HER GLASS SHOE AND ME.

I am the living proof that Cinderella only exists in fairytales. Probably you remember that her glass shoe proved too small for all the would-be princesses in the kingdom. Or I must have been in the wrong realm. Given my shoe size (34 in Europe, 3.5 in the US) I promise it would have fit me.

You see, if everything had gone right I would not bother you with my literary creations but walk about the castle. And no; children’s shoes are no option; I am only wearing heels. Or would you suggest sneakers to Cinderella?

However, this does not impact my passion for shoes. Moreover, I share the belief that shoes tell something about the person wearing them. I’ll come to this in a minute.

Shoes have a very long history. At times, the fact of possessing shoes (or not) made the difference between poor and wealthy visible.

SANDALS FOR EVERYONE

The most ancient shoes found so far are sandals. In pharaonic Egypt simple workers had sandals with soles made of papyrus. In the grave of King Tutankhamun on the other hand archeologists found sandals that bore soldiers of Egypt’s rival army engraved in their sole. This literally enabled Tutankhamun to kick his enemies with every step. The young king also possessed a pair with golden ponds on the top in which ducks made of lapis lazuli “swim”. I have seen these shoes in the Egyptian National Museum and found the idea pretty amazing.

Roman soldiers wore sandals that were made of a single piece of leather while their empresses could only be satisfied with soles made of solid gold and straps decorated with jewels.

In Europe poor people wore wooden sandals until about 1200 AC. Later sandals more or less disappeared and only came back in a VERY different look and meaning in the roaring twenties. Nowadays they are available in all colours, heights (heel or no heel?) and shapes.

WHAT DO SANDALS TELL US?

I said before that shoes tell something about their wearer. They do, just with sandals the meanings are very different.

For monks of certain religions sandals were (or maybe still are) a symbol of modesty, after the French revolution the so called empire style that reminded to the glorious Roman Empire appeared and rich ladies wore flat sandals along with their pseudo-roman dresses. In the twenties, sandals were looked at as sexy and coquettish while the brand “Birkenstock” sells sandals under the flag of health.

WE WILL WALK ON

This is the first part of a shoe series. Next time we’ll speak about slippers. Originally, the most unpractical shoes ever made.