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How High Heels Went From Menswear To Women's Torture Device

If you didn't hate wearing heels already, don't worry! You will.

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The original high heels were men's shoes — and they weren't meant for walking.


Horseback riders wore spikey-heeled shoes so that they could stand in their stirrups and shoot bows more accurately. No one ever said, "Hey, let's walk in these!" Because that would have been insane.

Shit got so out of hand in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries that women wore these "chopines" to really drive the point home.

Sometimes they needed servants help them walk down the street, which really reinforced the whole "I'm filthy stinkin' rich" thing. The long, voluminous dresses of the period neatly concealed how enormous these shoe stilts were.


When heels trickled down to the bourgeois, rich people made up new (aribitrary) signifiers of status.

For example, only members of King Louis XIV's court were allowed to wear red ones. Heels that color, therefore, indictated power.


By the 1800s, men had grown so sick of women biting their style that they quit the heel game.

Women followed suit shortly thereafter, and began wearing slippers and flats. Which means heel disappeared from fashion altogether.