High Heels

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What Are High Heels

High heels are shoes where the heels are much higher than the toes. They are a fashion item for women, and may also be worn by men. Both cowboy boots and ‘Cuban heels’ are shoes worn by men with higher heels.

The invention of high heels as a fashion statement could be accredited to the rather petite Catherine de Medici who was engaged to the Duke of Orleans at the age of 14. These heels became a success and soon became associated with wealth and privilege. Fashionable heels were popular for both sexes by 1590, and a person who had authority or wealth was often referred to as “well-heeled”

It matters a great deal how high the heels are. Heels of 2½ inches (6cm) are standard for ballroom dancing and certainly quite safe for wear once the user has experience with them. A ballroom dance competition may last, with intervals, for ten hours and is physically very demanding. Any ill effect on a girl’s performance would be noticed. These lower heels are safe. The standard style for ballroom dancing is the court shoe, soled in reverse (chamois) leather, with heels wider than 0.4 inches, wider than the typical stiletto heels.

If the soles of the shoes are also raised, then they are a quite different kind of shoe: the platform shoe.
Mid-height heels are from 2½ to 3½ inches (8.5cm). They are an intermediate between standard high heels and stiletto heels, which are from 4 to 10 inches, made of steel, and very narrow at the base: 0.4 inches or less. They have been widely criticised for the health risks regular wear would bring. They have also been criticised by feminists.

Wedgies or, more properly, shoes with wedge heels, are a compromise type. They raise the heels, and are much more stable than standard high heels. Wedges for women were popularized by Salvatore Ferragamo who introduced the design to the Italian market in the late 1930s.

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