Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve all worn heels at one point or another. And for most of us, our first pair of high heels was a special moment, stepping (literally) into adulthood. Today we’re delving into all things heels, because it’s not a case of one-shoe-fits-all; excuse the pun. There are heels for every type of situation, and if you care from them correctly they’ll treat you right.
History of the Heel
We may think of heels as an iconic symbol of sexual femininity, but the first known heel-wearers were actually soldiers in 15th century Persia. Why? To hook their feet securely into their horse stirrups, of course! Persian migrants carried the trend over to Europe, where they quickly became popular with aristocrats in the medieval times. They loved to look taller and powerful. The upper-class ladies quickly followed suit, and it was largely considered that the higher the heel, the richer the woman (as she had to pay for more skirt fabric), so heels quickly became a status symbol. They were up to 30 inches high at times, worn as stilted platforms to carry the wearer above the trash in the streets.
King Louis XIV began a trend of red-soled shoes and heels, something a certain big-name designer label is now iconic for....
Then, after the French Revolution, men discarded the trend for heels and women adopted it as their own, the heels becoming skinnier and the shoes becoming a superficial and feminine sign of ladies’ extravagance.
Today the heel still holds this artificial femininity to it, but it’s no longer a status symbol. For a time it was seen as a sex symbol thanks to Hollywood starlets like Marilyn Monroe, but the 2019 Met Gala saw Harry Styles don a pair of heels on the red carpet, so it’s possible that the trend for heels is about to get an entirely new lease of life...
High-Heel Shopping Guide
Reach for styles with a leather upper - not only is it better quality, but over time the leather will soften to your unique foot shape and offer more comfort than synthetic fabrics.
The higher the heel height, the more pressure the body is under to take on an unnatural posture. This can cause lower back pain and pressure, so if you’re an everyday heel wearer try sizing down to ensure you take care of your back in the long run.
Types of Heel
Block and Stacked Heels
These are thicker than standard heels and offer more stability and support. The balls of your feet will hurt less if you’re wearing block heels for a long period of time compared to stilettos.
The Stiletto is a tall and super skinny heel. Perfect for a night out and for really elongating the leg, but not great for everyday use due to increased likelihood of back pains.
Wedge heels offer height, but the heel continues and meets at the front of the shoe for a larger surface area than normal heeled footwear. This relieves some pressure from the ball of the foot.
The Kitten Heel is a Stiletto heel that doesn’t exceed 2 inches in height. Popularised by Audrey Hepburn, it’s the perfect choice for an everyday heel thanks to its practical height.
Platform Heels are shoes where the front sole is stacked to match the height of the heel. This offers a little less pressure on the ball of the foot without sacrificing height. They are the easiest shoe style to achieve sky-scraper heights, but it’s key to remember that this can cause twisted ankles. Notably worn by Lady Gaga in concerts.
Keeping your heels in dust bags are the best way to keep them dry and safe. Keeping them out of direct sunlight is best to make sure that the leather keeps it’s colour and isn’t lightened over time.
Don’t drive in your heels - the pedals and pressure can cause the heels to snap or break. Keep some pumps ready to slip-on in the glove compartment of your car.
Use leather polish to keep your shoes looking their best and spray to protect them from downpours if they’re suede. These will also benefit from a stiff brush rather than shoe polish to keep them their best.
If they’re getting a little smelly, sprinkle some baking soda into them and leave overnight - this will soak up the dirt and scents. In the morning you can tip out excess and give them a quick wipe with a cloth to get rid of any residue.