High heels

 

The high-heeled shoe, or a shoe whose heel is higher than the toe, is a matter of contentious and heated discussion. Shoes in general have typically served as markers of gender, class, race, and ethnicity–and both the foot and the shoe have been imbued with powerful phallic and fertility symbols as evidenced in the contemporary practice of tying shoes to a newlywed couple’s car. No other shoe, however, has gestured toward leisure, sexuality, and sophistication as much as the high-heeled shoe.

Shoes were beginning to be made in two pieces during the 1500s, with a flexible upper attached to a heavier, stiffer sole (Swann 1984). This new two-part shoe led to the heel as an actual part of the shoe rather than just an attachable overshoe. Heels grew in popularity during the 1500s to keep riders, both male and female, from slipping from the stirrups.

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