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Embedded Memories: Heels Of Yester-year

Very simply, the heel is the part of the back of the shoe than stands between the heel of the person wearing the shoe and the floor. Sadly, the heel has never been simple. No other part of fashion is so small and has caused such a stir over its more than 6,000 year existence. They have been functional and beautiful and they have even been controversial. In the early 16th century, European nobility utilized the heel to stay aloft on their horses, as it caught them from falling or slipping out of the stirrup. As it was mostly knights who clung to this trend, it also because a trend at court. The modern heel may even have been invented by Leonardo de Vinci!

Around 1660, shoemaker Nicholas Lestage designed heels for Louis XIV. These boots were seamless and calfskin and the king liked the boots so much he demanded that Lestage keep his techniques a secret. Lestage also decorate Louis’ shoes with battle scenes and made some of his heels over four inches high. Other monarchs who used heels regularly were Mary Tudor and Mary Antoinette. Sometime heels were used to increase height, such as in Catherine de Medici’s wedding to the Duke of Orleans in 1533. During other times they were actually used for their functional nature.

Other functions included the same “stay-in-the-stirrup” use as used by European knights which was also used by Mongolian horsemen. In the not very sanitary world prior to indoor plumbing, heels must have also been very useful, keeping the wearers feet very far away from the sometimes disgusting ground. Heels got lower during the French Revolution as the royals were being executed for their wealth and one of the representations of that wealth was the high heel. Citizens began to wear lower heels in order to separate themselves from the opulent wealth of the upper classes and also from the ostentation of displaying that wealth.

In fact, it was men who wore the heels first and were followed by the women. Once the women caught on however, they caught on with force. That is not to say that men do not still wear heels occasionally. The trend for men wearing heels returned briefly in the 1970’s after a very long hibernation. Male dancers wear high heeled shoes and it is estimated that around 30% of adult men have worn heels at one point or another in their lives.

Submitted by:

Dana Bradley

Dana Bradley writes about Wissota Trader Coupon Codes,BA Mason Coupon Codes and Shoes Discount




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