The stiletto’s walk through history
I like high-heeled shoes. In particular, I like ones that seem too difficult to walk in. Four inches, five inches, orange, purple, leather, suede: bring it on. Sometimes these intense heels can even be as high as eight inches. With stats like that, one can’t help but wonder where the idea for these incredible shoes originated.
High heels themselves, worn by both men and women, have been around since the ancient Egyptian butchers rocked them more than 6,000 years ago. But were the semi-painful shoes with long, pointy heels worn back then too? Or were they the realization of creative artists in Europe, or maybe textile designers in Asia?
The Latinate word ‘stiletto’ comes from the root word stilus, meaning a pointed instrument. The original stilettos were a type of dagger with a slender blade. In the 1930s the pointy heel was named after the stiletto dagger, but it wasn’t until its mass production in 1955 that this Italian shoe gained its popularity.
Though many often credit shoe designers Roger Vivier or Manolo Blahnik with the invention of the stiletto, (these two should instead be credited with the stiletto revivals of 1950 and 1974, respectively), the late Kristin S. Wagner was the original designer of the fashionable heel, and eventually experienced the success of the stiletto.
While these seductive shoes may cause discomfort by the end of the day, they also come with many benefits. For one, stiletto heels change your posture, causing you to stand straighter and appear slimmer. By standing straighter, you lift parts of your body that should be up higher, which can help you appear more confident. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of stilettos is that they make you look taller and your feet look smaller. Through my own experience searching for heels in a size 11, I have found that the higher the heel, the better the results.
Have you ever walked on a hill while wearing stilettos? If so, you’re probably aware that the calf workout rivals that of professional athletes. Well, maybe not quite that intense, but your legs are guaranteed to look even more amazing after walking around in these shoes. Aside from the physical benefits, there are also some stylish and social benefits. Style-wise, stilettos can cause outfits to appear more feminine or edgy, depending on the detailing of the shoe and the designer. Socially, wearers of stilettos might exude sexiness or power.
Nowadays, shoe designers have gone crazy trying to produce flattering stilettos. Designers such as Christian Louboutin (an article about high heels would be incomplete without referencing this amazing designer) create sky-high shoes with amazing proportions. As mentioned earlier, stiletto heels can produce wonderful effects, many of which are found only when the shoe length to heel height ratio is exact. This can be difficult to achieve with styles such as the kitten heel, especially for those with large feet. Shoe designers take this calculation into account when producing flattering and popular stilettos.
From the Egyptian butchers to the floor in my closet (and yours), stilettos have romped around the Earth for centuries. The success of this fabulous footwear indicates that they will continue to do so for years to come.