18 Historical Facts About Shoes That Are Totally Mind-Blowing

year ago

Shoes appeared primarily in order to protect the feet from the effects of the external environment. But later, people began to use footwear to express themselves, complement their outfits, show their status, and much more. So, some time ago, high heels were used to protect a family, the color of soles determined a person’s financial status, and children had to practice walking in shoes properly.

  • Almost until the end of the nineteenth century, there were no standard shoe sizes, so the length of the sole was measured in barleycorn. It was barleycorn that formed the basis for a unit, like the measurement of an inch.
  • When the fashion of heels reached the lower ranks of society, the aristocrats responded by making their heels even higher and more impractical. And since it was very inconvenient to walk in shoes with these high heels or do any work, they, therefore, signified the high status of the wearer.
  • During the Renaissance, the richer and more powerful the wearer was, the broader the squared toe became, while children mostly wore round-toed shoes.
  • In the fourteenth century, people began to wear shoes with long and pointed toes, poulaines. But wearing these shoes often damaged the structure of the feet and sometimes even led to fractures.
  • Poulaines were often worn by wealthy men, who emphasized their inability to partake in physical labor this way. The toes of these shoes would be stuffed with wool or moss to make them harder.
  • At first, shoes were decorated with ties or ribbons. But later, metal buckles appeared, which could signify the wearer’s status.
  • In the fifteenth century, men wanted their wives to wear shoes that had very tall platforms, called chopines. But they wanted this not for the sake of beauty, but so that their wives wouldn’t run off with another man.
  • While wearing chopines, whose platforms sometimes reached 20 inches, noble ladies couldn’t leave the house without servants who helped them walk.
  • In the same fifteenth century, high platform shoes, popular among women at the time, were banned by Venetian law because of the large number of accidents reported by ladies falling over.
  • Although the heels were initially intended to be worn by men because it was convenient to ride a horse in these shoes, they began to lose their popularity among men in the eighteenth century. The heels of men’s shoes began to become lower, while women, on the contrary, began to wear high heels much more often.
  • One of the reasons why women wanted to wear high heels was because they wanted their feet to appear smaller and more elegant. At the same time, the toes were sharply pointed to ensure they peered out from beneath a long dress, creating an illusion of a small foot.
  • In the seventeenth century, red heels worn by men were a symbol of wealth. In the late seventeenth century, King Louis XIV introduced high-heeled shoes with red soles into fashion and even enforced a rule banning anyone without red-soled shoes from entering his court.
  • At first, heels used to wear out very quickly because they were made of wood.
  • There is an opinion that the footwear of the eighteenth century played a big role in why the theories about women’s “innate” inferiority appeared in the first place. It was because high heels changed the way women walked, making their gait totter.
  • In the past, people often suffered from pain in their feet because the soles of shoes were similar for both the left and right feet. This is why men and women had to switch shoes from one foot to the other to reduce the pain.
  • And since the left and right shoes were not different from each other, children had to learn to walk in them. They began practicing how to walk properly in this footwear from an early age.
  • Sneakers were invented in the nineteenth century. At first, these shoes were worn by prison wardens, and since they moved almost noiselessly because of their rubber-soled shoes, they were called “sneaks” by prison inmates. This was how sneakers got their name.
  • The roads at the time were not good enough to walk down in beautiful shoes, so people had to wear “pattens” that protected the soles from wear and tear.

What do you think about the shoes of the past? Which fact did you find the most fascinating?


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