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.