Step into the Fashionable History of High Heels From Versailles to Vogue – myfashionsecrets

Step into the Fashionable History of High Heels From Versailles to Vogue

High heels have been around for centuries, but their style and purpose has changed a lot over the years. From being worn by both men and women in Ancient Egypt to becoming a symbol of aristocracy in France during the reign of Louis XIV in Versailles, it is clear that high heels have had a fashionable history. Moreover, their evolution did not stop there—in the Victorian era they became distinctively ornate and since then, the introduction of Hollywood in the 1900s and social media in the early 2000s have continued to shape the modern high heeled silhouette. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the fashionable history of high heels, from ancient times to present day.

We’ll explore the original origins of the high heel, why and how men began to wear them in the 1700s, their development during the Victorian era, the influence of Hollywood movie stars in the 1900s, and the recent impact of cats, dogs, and influencers in the early 2000s. Finally, we’ll look at the various pros and cons of wearing high-heeled shoes, as well as a summary of the key points and resources used in the article.

So, let’s get started!

The History of Ancient Egypt and High Heels

High heels have been around for centuries, and the earliest recorded evidence of them being worn dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt. During this time period, high heels were popular both with men and women alike.

In fact, high heels often signified power and status when worn by aristocracy of the time. Nobles, government officials, and servants of Pharaohs wore high heels with their traditional clothing to differentiate themselves from other classes. The elevated heel of the shoe also made it easier for them to walk on sand.

The design of the high heels from Ancient Egypt was quite simple in comparison to today’s heels. The heel was typically made of leather, with patterns carved or stamped into it. There were also cork, animal bones, wood, and even copper used for the sole, while the upper part of the shoe was usually woven from linen.

In some cases, gold, silver, and gems were added as decorations, although materials varied depending on the person’s stature and their wealth.

High heels were not only a form of fashionable footwear, but they were also used as a form of social class distinction. The higher the heel was, the more important the individual was thought to be.

1500s – The Aristocrats: How High Heels Became a Sign of Aristocracy

During the reign of Louis XIV in the 1500s in Versailles, high heels became the defining mark of aristocracy. High heels at this time were made of silk, velvet and leather. It was thought to be fashionable as it gave the wearer an air of sophistication and status. Men wore heeled shoes while women wore heeled boots. The design of the shoe was normally quite modest with a low heel that was curved and often had a strap around the front or back. The higher that the heel was, the more wealth and power the wearer portrayed.

These high heels were only enjoyed by the wealthy, as they were quite expensive and difficult to make. High heels were also sometimes studded with jewels or decorated with lace. This further emphasized their elite status. High heels were also thought to aid with walking on rough terrain, helping to protect the feet and give them better support.

The 1700s: Heels for Men

During the 1700s, the military had a major influence on the evolution of men’s heeled shoes. The heeled silhouette was seen as a way for soldiers to experience better balance and stability when riding a horse or engaging in combat. From a decorative point of view, the heel could be decorated with metal plates, which were seen as emblematic of rank and power. The higher the heel, the more prestigious the soldier.

At the same time, the fashion was also adopted by courtiers and aristocrats, who used the heels to signal their wealth and class. Social status was often determined by the intricate detailing or the materials used, such as leather, silk and velvet. Handcrafted buckles, and adornments decorated with gold and jewels created an even more luxurious appeal.

By the mid-1700s, the stiletto heel – a narrow and tall heel – had become a popular option, particularly among the European elite. This style is believed to have originated in Italy during this period, where the thin heel developed an iconic reputation.

High Heels in the Victorian Era

The Victorian Era was marked with extraordinary changes for women’s fashion, and high heels were no exception. With the introduction of industrialization and mass-production, gowns and shoes became more affordable and accessible to the general public.

During this period, fashion began to focus heavily on intricate detailing, which included poufy ruffles and lush fabrics. Women wore gowns that boasted large bustles, full skirts, tight corsets and towering headpieces. These over-the-top garments meant the perfect accessory needed to be found to complete the look. High heels were the answer.

High heels were now seen as a must-have fashion item, specifically in the upper classes. The style of the heel shifted from the chunkier, blocky style of the 1700s to a more delicate shape with intricate details. Heels could be found in countless hues and shapes and made from various materials such as leather, velvet, and satin.

This wasn’t just a fashion trend – it was a marker of status. Women who wore the highest heels were not just fashion forward but they were also the epitome of elegance, and they were seen as tastemakers.

1900s – Hollywood Influence

The early 1900s saw a dramatic shift in fashion popularized by the glamourous movie stars of the era. Heel height became the symbol of sophistication and high style. The trendiest stars would be photographed and their personal styles became highly sought after.

At first, heels were mostly limited to less than 2 inches, or 5 cm. However, as the media coverage of celebrities increased, so did the heels get higher. By the 1920s, they could reach up to a staggering 4.5 inches, or 12 cm. This was still relatively short compared to what we know today but made a big difference to the aesthetic of the time.

Along with the rise in heel length came a switch in toe box shapes. Small, round toes became popular due to the influence of the stars of the day. These shapes were sleek and petite, as opposed to their large and wide predecessors. The pointy toe also became a look for women’s heels, offering an edgy look that was seen as revolutionary.

The last great change to come from the stars of Hollywood was the introduction of red leather soles. The goal was to show off the wearer’s well-heeled status. All of the classic designers adopted this technique to stand out within the industry and make their shoes more recognizable and desirable.

In many ways, the high heels worn today owe their look and shape to the stars of the silver screen in the early 1900s. Without their influence, high heels may still be a sign of aristocracy, but not in the same way.

Early 2000s – High Heels Come Into Their Own

The early 2000s were a time of great change and evolution in the high heels trend. As the 21st century began, new silhouettes and designs emerged that saw shoes with higher and sturdier heels come into their own. With the rise of celebrities, fashion models, and social media influencers, heels as an essential staple of the modern woman’s wardrobe slowly gained momentum.

The new millennium was also a time when celebrities and film stars began to sport the most daring of high heel designs. From Dita Von Teese to Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, their bold and fashionable choices helped propel the high heel trend even further. And the thing about trends is that once they take root, they can quickly become dangerously popular!

The early 2000s saw interesting developments in the world of high heels, including the emergence of kitten heels, or low-heeled shoes. This trend made the transition to wearing high heels much easier for women and created an entry point into the world of heels. And to top it all off, many of these designs were accompanied by celebrity endorsements, making them even more desirable amongst fans.

The rise of the so-called “IT shoe” also made a major impact on the high heels scene as well. In recent years high heels have been made to be more practical yet still remain stylish. They come in a range of colors, prints, and textures, from classic leathers to colorful vegan options. No matter what your wardrobe needs, there is likely to be a pair of heels available to suit you!

The early 2000s also saw the development of the platform heel, which allowed women to rock taller looks without having to sacrifice comfort. This trend is still very much alive today and is popular amongst many A-listers, fashion bloggers, and everyday women alike.

Recent Years: The Impact of Social Media

In recent years, the high heel trend has been heavily influenced by social media. From content shared by influencers to the growing trend of internet-famous cats and dogs wearing high heels, this trend has gone viral in a surprisingly short time.

One of the biggest games-changers in terms of high heels in recent years has been the rise of influencers. Through celebrities, bloggers, and Instagrammers, high heels have become increasingly popular and accessible for everyday people. For example, bloggers often post photos and videos of themselves wearing different types of heels, giving their followers ideas on how they can style their own looks with a pair.

Cats and dogs have also had an impact on the high heel trend. A quick scroll through any social media platform reveals countless videos and images of animals sporting stylish heels. It’s become so popular that there are even sites dedicated to selling “pet heels” so you can dress up your fur baby in style!

The presence of cats and dogs in the world of high heels is a testament to how far this trend has come. Although it was once only accessible to the upper classes, it is now a fashion staple for people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life.

High heels have come a long way since their origin in Ancient Egypt, where they were first worn by both genders. Currently, high heels are seen as a fashion staple for women around the world and their evolution is full of interesting history.

This guide will cover the stylish and fashionable history of high heels, from its beginnings in Ancient Egypt, to its reinvention in Versailles, its roles in military fashion, Victorian era frills, Hollywood influence, and contemporary trends like influencers and cats wearing them. As well as giving an overview of the pros and cons of wearing high-heeled shoes and citing sources used in the article.

So, let’s travel through time and explore the inspiring and fashionable history of high heels.

Pros & Cons of Wearing High Heels

High heels are an iconic fashion accessory, often associated with style and femininity. However, there are both pros and cons when it comes to wearing high heels.


  • Height: High heels are popular for the added height they give the wearer, helping to elongate the figure.
  • Flattering: By cinching in at the ankles, high heels can highlight curves and give the impression of a smaller waist.
  • Confidence: The height of the heel and the attention-grabbing shape can help to boost confidence.


  • Pain: Wearing high heels puts extra strain on the feet, as well as the legs and back, leading to painful feet, blisters and sore joints.
  • Stability: A lack of stability can be problematic when wearing high heels, making it harder to walk and increasing the risk of falling over.
  • Limit Movement: High heels place limits on movement, so running or doing vigorous activities is impossible.

When it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of high heels, the decision ultimately lies with the wearer. For some, the added confidence that comes with wearing heels makes it worth the pain, while for others, the risks outweigh the benefits.

Closing Sentence & Call To Action

High heels have had a fascinating history that is still unfolding. From ancient Egyptian rulers to the current wave of influencers, their popularity and style have come in and out of fashion. We hope this journey through the fashionable history of high heels has inspired you to give them a try—or at least appreciate them from afar!

Ready to strut your stuff? Before you buy, take a look at our list of top tips for shopping for high heels. Whether you’re a long-time enthusiast or a first-time shopper, there’s something for everyone when it comes to selecting the perfect pair.

Resources & Credits

This guide to the fashionable history of high heels has been created using a variety of sources. Firstly, as in any written work, there is a reliance on previous scholarship. Louis XIV’s social context and the evolution of the high-heeled shoe are discussed in literature such as The Power of Dress: Fashion and Identity in Eighteenth-Century France by Julia K.H Rubin. Secondly, cultural moments like the impact of cats, dogs and Instagram influencers on the recent high heel trend, have also been gathered through research from publications such as Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle.

It is also important to acknowledge the people who don’t necessarily write about the subject but still have a large impact on its popularity. This includes fashion designers like Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo. These names may not be outright mentioned in the article but their creations and influence has helped shape the fashionable history of high heels that we’re discussing.

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