Introduction: The History of Women’s Shoes
Today, women’s shoes have really come to be the staple of many women’s wardrobes. Shoe fashion has changed immensely since women’s shoes first started becoming popularized around the 18th century. Shoe styles can range from sandals, pumps and boots to heels, wedges and flats. Shoes have evolved from being footwear for a few select cultures to modern day fashions that are worn by millions of people all around the world.
This article will be discussing the evolution of women’s shoes from their very beginning, to the present day. The first shoe that was ever used was probably made by an indigenous tribe somewhere in Africa. In the 18th century, shoes were only worn by royalty or fancy women. But, with the invention of the sewing machine [over a hundred and fifty years ago], women’s shoes became more popular. Not until after World War II, did women’s shoes become common in the United States.
The evolution of women’s shoes is a long and complicated one. Throughout time, all sorts of different styles have come and gone, some that were considered desirable, while others were not. In order to understand the history of shoes in all its glory, it is first going to be necessary to start at the very beginning. The earliest known shoe-like objects that were made by humans were found in Germany, Turkey and Greece. These shoes, which were known as slippers, were made from animal skin or leather. They were not designed to provide protection for the feet but rather to keep them warm and dry.
Ancient Egyptian Sandal Invention – The Original Style of Female Footwear
The invention of the high-heeled shoe was made sometime during the 17th century. The heels gave added height and poise to women’s posture, making it nearly impossible for someone to topple or stumble in them. This was quite useful for court appearances and balls, and of course added an element of distinction from ordinary town shoes and bags.
Early examples of the high-heeled shoe can be found on figures in Ancient Egyptian sculptures, paintings and reliefs. They consist of simple yet very thin and flat soles encased in leather, often decorated with gold cloaks, skirts and veils. These shoes make an appearance in artwork from as early as 2000 B.C.
The Ancient Egyptians wore rarely high-heeled shoes, although since these devices had no heels, the wearer was not able to display the same poise and attention to posture they did while wearing them. It was only during the last two centuries before Christ that high-heeled footwear became more common.
The First High Heels
18th Century Court Dress Shoe-The First Formal Female Footwear Fashion
During this period, the heels of women’s shoes became increasingly higher in a style known as the cork-heeled pump. These creations were new, exciting and utterly feminine, with glittering embellishments and many women’s shoe styles following suit in their own unique designs. The invention of the cork heel allowed women to wear heels safely without becoming unstable on their feet. Women’s shoes during this time were often made with a smaller heel height, generally less than three inches. These pumps were meant to be worn with women’s clothing that was slightly more modest than their previous counterparts, styled in a manner that kept the wearer’s ankles covered. They were usually made of red or dark-colored velvet, with lace trim and accents on the top of the foot. The heels of these women’s shoes had unique designs, carved into them as an artistic extravagance. Cork heels were fashionable in Europe and even later landed in colonial New England.
From 1800s to Modern Day 2050s- A Timeline of Women’s Fashion Trends in Footwear
As women’s shoes continued to grow in popularity, they became more and more formal and sophisticated. Women even began wearing them to church services to help them better appear graceful, feminine and dignified. This coincided with the appearance of the stiletto heel, which was made by trimming a normal heel as opposed to cutting through it. The stiletto heel allowed women to walk without making a sound, and was designed with the purpose of allowing women to walk gracefully and with more confidence. Some of the other trends that emerged in the 1950s included:
Women began wearing their hair up, in a style dictated by the fashion industry to be elegant, classy and sophisticated. This would eventually some how evolve into stiletto heels as well. The stiletto heels would also help women not to make noise while they walk, however they did not allow women to walk gracefully or with more confidence as stilettos were not designed for this task.
Women’s shoes continued to grow in popularity during the 1960s, however this time around women were wearing their shoes to go out with friends and dance. They didn’t have to worry about being judged for wearing high heels in a very square environment such as church, or even at home. The heel would continue growing in prominence during the 1960s, but footwear trends diversified as well. During this time the “striped” leg was popularized by designers and made a fashion statement for women. The reason for it’s popularity is because it made a woman look so chic, and she didn’t have to wear boring, traditional looking shoes in order to make a fashion statement.