Women’s shoes tell us something about ourselves through their more or less high heels.
High heels: every woman’s (and man’s) dream!
In fact, who hasn’t at least once dreamed of being a few centimeters taller? Or of having a potent tool of seduction and an unrivalled feminine ally at hand?
It’s strange though to revisit all that happened in the past and see how we have reached the point today of having such an ’embarrassing’ choice of high heel shoes. But what have been the important steps recorded throughout history of our dearly beloved high heels?
From the beginning of the 20th century, right up to today and their appearance in TV dramas, stiletto shoes have played a major role over the years in our own stories and lives.
Heels for women: how have they changed through the years?
We’ve been talking about them forever because shoes with heels have been known since ancient Egypt. From then, they have made it through to our times, passing through different periods and even taking center stage in TV dramas!
In the early 20th century, high heel women’s shoes wasn’t appreciated because women preferred more comfortable footwear which had hardly any heel at all.
In the 30s, a new heel, albeit not very high yet, arrives from Hollywood. Amongst other things, it’s embellished with sparkling glitter for the first time.
Even in the 40s, shoes with high heels were not yet enjoying any special kind of appreciation. Women still preferred low shoes.
It’s only in the 50s that the high heel makes its appearance (at last!), becoming the spokeswoman for a new era of female footwear. This new heel soon gets dubbed stiletto, an Italian word meaning a small dagger with a sharp, thin blade. Anyway, the arrival of this new high-heeled shoe onto the market was a kind of “revolution” and definitely an important symbol of change for that time.
Then, with the advent of the 60s, there was instead another new arrival in women’s fashion, which was to have a strong influence on the shape and height of heels: the miniskirt.
This new trend favored the wearing of boots and so the famous stiletto-type heels quickly became incorporated into this kind of footwear which, when worn with a miniskirt, really flattered and showed off a woman’s bare legs.
We need to wait until the 80s to begin to get away from the feminist rejection of fashion which they viewed negatively. It’s only then that women started to reclaim the pleasure of feeling stylish and sensual, also by wearing high heeled shoes. High heels were soon being exploited by women for women, to affirm their power and authority, which was even helped by those extra centimeters.
Higher and higher heels become the distinctive feature of the 90s, notoriously characterized by displays of opulence and excess. So, the woman in a really high, sophisticated heel, a symbol of her success and affirmation.
And what about today?
Nowadays, women have a virtually infinite array of high heel shoes to dip into. Different shapes, heights, materials and styles. We are spoilt for choice!
Even if it’s true that women’s heels have had a traceable journey through history and are influenced by the socio-cultural context of the times, our enormous choice of shoe design and shape today is, yes, a product of the past, but one that is at last free of political and sociological conditioning.