History Of High Heels

Lynne Kiesling

In the comments to my recent post on high heels, dmoss asked when high-heeled shoes became fashionable for women. I seem to recall some archeological evidence of high heels in Egyptian culture, but I can’t document it.

I did, however, find a link to shoe research and shoe museums, with some documentation of high heels in the early 18th century.

According to the Bata Shoe Museum, high heels were popular in Europe for both men and women by the 16th century:

An unusual woman’s fashion, which was at the height of popularity in Venice during the 16th century, was the chopine – a platform-soled mule that raised the wearer sometimes as high as two feet off the ground. By the time this fashion had subsided in the early 17th century, heels had emerged as a standard addition to both men’s and women’s footwear.

Bata also shows a wooden platform mule from the Netherlands, from 1450, so there are some high-heeled shoes in Europe earlier.

As an aside, I am dying to go to the Bata Shoe Museum, which is in Toronto. We keep talking about taking a long weekend to go there, and to one of the other shrines in the LK universe: The Hockey Hall of Fame.

Two shrines, in walking distance from each other … of course, wearing sensible shoes.