Facts and Fun About Shoes

Heels were worn by men for centuries. Rather than a marker of gender, they were an indicator of high social status. Besides the social update, heels were needed to keep men safe on their horses. To keep from falling they put their heel into the stirrups.

King Edward II, Shoes, and Barleycorn

In the early 14th century King Edward II of Britain declared shoe size would be based on the length of barleycorn. Three barleycorns would equal one inch, he proclaimed. And so the first standard shoe size was written.

Question 1: How many pairs of shoes do you think the average U.S. woman has? (Keep reading to find out!)

$660,000

Dorothy’s size-five red slippers from The Wizard of Oz were the most expensive shoes to ever sell. The original pair were auctioned off in 2000.

The Invention of the Right- and Left-footed Shoe

Philadelphia was the birthplace of the right- and left-footed shoe. Until 1850 shoes were straight and didn’t account for the fact that feet curved in opposite directions.

Queen Victoria’s Lady’s Boots

In 1840, the lady’s boot was created for Queen Victoria.  This boot has been popular for 177 years.

Question 2: Where do you think the wedge shoe came from?

When Were Shoes Invented?

Livescience says archaeologists found shoes dated back to the Middle Paleolithic period. 40,000 years ago.  These were usually made of leather, shaped like moccasins or sandals, and were worn inconsistently. It wasn’t until the Upper Paleolithic period that shoes became common.

Question 3: Can you understand your life by dreaming about shoes?

Shoes in Europe

In the European Baroque period women and men’s shoes were similar. Differences were seen in social classes. People of low class wore heavy, black leather shoes, and those of high class wore the same style, but crafted from wood.

ATI says that during the 1800’s men’s heel height finally settled on 1 inch. Around this time, women’s and men’s shoes became different in “style, color, heel, and toe shape”.

The Great Depression

People wore sturdy, practical, black and brown shoes. When the economy improved men mostly wore Oxfords and women wore platform shoes, says ATI.

Footwear After WWII

Men’s shoe styles changed very little during this time, while women’s shoes moved closer to our idea of high heels. Arched, high quality, and designed to convince others to buy beauty.

20th Century Shoes

In recent times, as more women went to work, heels became the norm for the office. While work heels are typical colors of black, brown, and beige, fashion has introduced wild designs and colors. There are shoes that look like a horse’s hooves, have nine-inch heels, are propped up like ballerina slippers, and sparkle.

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