Nothing pulls an outfit together quite like a sleek pair of heels. From casual summer wedges to a fabulous stiletto, there’s a lot to appreciate when it comes to the versatile footwear. Let’s celebrate our favorite shoes and all that goes into finding that perfect pair:
History of the heel
While heels are mainly considered women’s fashion these days, they were actually created by the Persians in the 10th century, so men on horses could keep their feet in their stirrups, according to Slate. It wasn’t until the 18th century that heels became womenswear. They became a symbol of style and status, typically worn by the upper class. Heels waned in popularity over the decades, before becoming stylish among the masses. According to Marie Claire, the average woman now begins wearing heels at the age of 12 and doesn’t stop until she’s 63 years old. It’s in a woman’s mid-20s that she reaches her peak heel height – approximately 5 inches – and by the time she’s in her late 40s, she’ll start swapping the stilettos for something a little more practical – about 1.7 inches.
Our favorite heels through the years
Wedges were created in the 1940s when materials typically used in heels, like steel, were hard to come by. Cork, however, was plentiful, and designer Salvatore Ferragamo used the material to design the first cork wedge heel, according to the designer’s official website. Nowadays, wedges are considered a popular spring and summer style, but many companies that make athletic shoes are even producing wedge sneakers.
Stiletto heels became fashionable in the ’50s, when the pinup style was all the rage. With heels 4-5 inches in height, women stood on their tiptoes, thrusting their chest for balance, which also elongated their legs and lifted their backside. Despite podiatrists warning of the damage stiletto heels can do to a woman’s legs and feet, they continue to be a popular style to this day.
In the 1970s, men started wearing heels again when platforms became popular. The disco scene was huge, and stiletto heels just weren’t practical for being on your feet all night. So the platform as we know it today was born. Thick soles and chunky heels elevated everyone a few inches off of the ground. Some of the most funky platform shoes featured flashing lights and glitter in the heels. While platform popularity dipped in the ’80s, pop group, the Spice Girls revived it in the 1990s.
Now, the most trendy form of platforms is included on stiletto heels. Lifting the sole off of the ground allows the shoe’s heels to be even higher. Some stars, such as Lady Gaga, have worn heels almost a foot in height, due to the tall platform. Some women think platforms make stiletto heels more comfortable, while others find them more difficult to walk in.
Today’s Heel trends
Some of the most popular heel styles this year are reinforcing the idea that heels should be comfortable as well as attractive. Chunky heels are becoming more prominent, and ’70s styles, like clogs and high-heel mules, are coming back into style. Low-wedge shoes are also combining the practical and the stylish. The ’90s are returning in many forms – from skater dresses to tattoo chokers – and even Spice Girls-esque platforms are showing up on runways again. No matter what style of heels you appreciate the most, the beauty of today’s fashion is that all of these styles have a place in your day-to-day looks. So go ahead, go shoe shopping!