I’ve seen this image going around, and I feel compelled to point out that it’s only half-right. It’s true that high heels were originally a masculine fashion, but they weren’t originally worn by butchers - nor for any other utilitarian purpose, for that matter.
High heels were worn by men for exactly the same reason they’re worn by women today: to display one’s legs to best effect. Until quite recently, shapely, well-toned calves and thighs were regarded as an absolute prerequisite for male attractiveness. That’s why you see so many paintings of famous men framed to show off their legs - like this one of George Washington displaying his fantastic calves:
… or this one of Louis XIV of France rocking a fabulous pair of red platform heels (check out those thighs!):
… or even this one of Charles I of England showing off his high-heeled riding boots - note, again, the visual emphasis on his well-formed calves:
In summary: were high heels originally worn by men? Yes. Were they worn to keep blood off their feet? No at all - they were worn for the same reason they’re worn today: to look fabulous.
so then how did they become a solo feminine item of attire?
A variety of reasons. In France, for example, high heels fell out out of favour in the court of Napoleon due to their association with aristocratic decadence, while in England, the more conservative fashions of the Victorian era regarded it as indecent for a man to openly display his calves.
But then, fashions come and go. The real question is why heels never came back into fashion for men - and that can be laid squarely at the feet of institutionalised homophobia. Essentially, heels for men were never revived because, by the early 20th Century, sexually provocative attire for men had come to be associated with homosexuality; the resulting moral panic ushered in an era of drab, blocky, fully concealing menswear in which a well-turned calf simply had no place - a setback from which men’s fashion has yet to fully recover.
FASHION HISTORY IS HUMAN HISTORY OK
ok this is really informative and all but i really feel a need to bring up that high heels didn’t start in Europe nor were they for fashion.
High heels came to prominence when worn by the 16th century Persian cavalry- the riders needed to be able to remain steady to fire their arrows while standing up on their stirrups while astride a running horse. The Persian empire had like the largest cavalry in the world, so you can imagine. High heels then spread to Europe because the Persian Shah Abbas was keen to foster ties in a bid to gain allies against his enemy- the Ottoman Empire.
As a result of these diplomatic exchanges, there was some kind of mania for all things Iranian during that period amongst the Europeans, and that’s how the story of high heels being a European fashion symbol for men really begins.
This was some of my favorite shit that I studied in art school :)
Reasons to be a stripper
Panda baby with her mama (x)