Do you remember the first time you wore stilettos?
Lately, during a wardrobe decluttering session my client’s toddler was strolling up and down on a pair of high heels. The small girl, and her genuine fun with the shoes reminded me of how I was parading on my Mom’s stilettos, not as early as the toddler Johanna but as a preschool girl. After a long decade of practicing on my Mom’s high heels using our kitchen as an imaginary runway, finally I also got my own stilettos. For practical reasons this very first pair was a classic high heels: black-leather, pointed toe - it was a symbol of femininity for me. Throughout the years the classical pair was followed by many others in different colours and styles.
Do you remember the last time you wore high heels?
Due to my slipped discs I literally needed to say goodbye to my beloved heels, already at age 47. It was a longer process and of course was not only about the beautiful items, it was the pain of my ageing. Firstly the high-heels moved to the lower shelves of the shoe cabinet then to the attic, neatly folded in boxes by season and colours (still in a hope that once they could return to my everyday life).
Arriving at the acceptance of my medical status, I practically let the stilettos go, most of them went for donation. It was a process to acknowledge that something is over, a chapter has been closed forever.
Walking through the change curve I discussed the topic with many friends and acquaintances. I was not at all alone. Everyone has their own way of coping with aging and, in this specific case, finding the best alternatives for the stilettos that can’t be part of our lives any more.
Regarding the shoes, that’s the easiest part, only a matter of personal preferences if someone likes ballerinas, oxfords, loafers or over-cushioned leather sneakers that gives the experience of walking on clouds (or at least I imagine this might feel like walking on clouds).
Regarding aging: I have redefined my femininity without heels and it's simply fantastic.
What about you? Are you on the way to let your stilettos go, redefining your personal style or finding again your feminin part? In case you need help on your journey let’s talk, I am happy to help.
High heels, in different forms, accompanied human history. In some eras, they served poorly practical purposes: for example in ancient Egypt , around 3.500 BC, the butchers wore platform sandals to avoid standing in the blood of slaughtered animals.
During the Medieval times both men and women wore a kind of overshoes, mentioned as pattens. The streets of many European cities at that time were filthy and the patterns elevated the feet above the ground, thus practically protecting the real footwear from the mud (or even worse).
The first high heels, where the heels actually were separated from the sole, were used by Persian cavalries around the 10th century AC. Again a practical reason: the heels meant to help the horsemen’s feet staying in their stirrups and gave the riders the stability they needed to shoot their bows and arrows.
Beyond practicality, most of the times platform shoes or high heels represented social status, power and enhanced attractiveness. The “kothorni” is perhaps the most known ancient platform sandal of the Greek actors from around 200 BC, which used a wood or a cork sole to raise different actors “above” the others. It is said that the height of the shoes served to differentiate the social class and importance of the various characters that were being portrayed on the stage.
Catherine de Medici is said to be a rather short lady, perhaps that’s why she adopted the heels of her shoes to be seen taller and more imposing. Her approach was followed by other famous historical figures, most known Mary Tudor. King Louis XIV, The Sun King, proclaimed the social division with heels: coloured in red, only aristocrats could wear them.
Over the second half of the 20th century, with more available offerings due to new technologies, and desire created by icons like Marlyn Monroe and later Sarah Jessica Parker, heels grew extremely popular. A special type of the high heels, the stilettos were invented in the 1950s and soon became the symbol of femininity.
High heels, however, were also banned or ignored from time to time due to social circumstances.
During the 18th century the French Revolution swiped the high heels away, as they symbolized the aristocrats and the decadence of fashion. With the empowerment of women and the suffragette movement through the early 20th century the heels – that temporarily came back for the ladies during the Victorian times- became again a no-go.
Another consideration of voting for flats was after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, as wearing stilettos seemed to be a severe disadvantage when the need for abrupt evacuation came.
When the MeToo# social movement spread widely in 2017, it had an immediate impact on fashion as well: cuts became less tight, almost baggy, and the stilettos disappeared from everyday outfits, especially from workplaces.
The casual “home office style” that appeared with the Pandemic and stayed with us for the “NewNormal” is definitely everything but stilettos.