Today at work, I noticed that a co-worker of mine was wearing fancy schmancy boots. Apparently he's had these boots for a while and they're not considered fancy schmancy, but working boots.
This got me wondering why a guy would be wearing a "high heel" boot. His response was that they were working boots and it allows you to walk on un-even surfaces without slipping - makes sense.
Then I started thinking some more (after he had mentioned that cowboys wear heels as well).
Though it may seem obvious to most, I never really realized that the reason cowboys wore boots was to keep their feet in the stirrups. So I started wondering how this evolved to women.
After forgetting about it the rest of the day, I just now decided to look it up (the history of the necktie has always intrigued me... stay tuned for that one).
I turned to my handy dandy Wikipedia. Yes I know, not the most reliable source, but it works for small questions like these.
Here is what I found:
Raised heels are stated to have been a response to the problem of the rider's foot slipping forward in stirrups while riding. The "rider's heel," approximately 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) high, appeared around 1500. The leading edge was canted forward to help grip the stirrup, and the trailing edge was canted forward to prevent the elongated heel from catching on underbrush or rock while backing up, such as in on-foot combat. These features are evident today in riding boots, notably cowboy boots.
The simple riding heel gave way to a more stylized heel over its first three decades. Beginning with the French, heel heights among men crept up, often becoming higher and thinner, until they were no longer useful while riding, but were relegated to "court-pony" wear. By the late 1600s men's heels were commonly between three and four inches in height.
In 1533, the diminutive wife of the Duke of Orleans, Catherine de' Medici, commissioned a cobbler to fashion her a pair of heels, both for fashion, and to increase her stature. They were an adaptation of chopines (elevated wooden soles with both heel and toe raised not unlike modern platform shoes), but unlike chopines the heel was higher than the toe and the "platform" was made to bend in the middle with the foot.
High-heeled shoes quickly caught on with the fashion-conscious men and women of the French court, and spread to pockets of nobility in other countries. The term "well-heeled" became synonymous with opulent wealth. Both men and women continued wearing heels as a matter of noble fashion throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. When the French Revolution drew near, in the late 1700s, the practice of wearing heels fell into decline in France due to its associations with wealth and aristocracy. Throughout most of the 1800s, flat shoes and sandals were usual for both sexes, but the heel resurfaced in fashion during the late 1800s, almost exclusively among women.
So there you are. These are the random things that always cross my mind. I thought I'd share this random post with you. Not relevant to photography, but it was interesting.