High heels meant for men once!

It’s hard to think of a more iconically feminine accessory than the high-heeled shoe. In fact, high heels have been associated with women since all the way back in the 1600s. Well, here’s a shocker: For the seven centuries that preceded that, they were exclusively worn by men and were seen as being virile and masculine and a great way to boost your height a few inches.

The high heel was imported from an unexpected source: a group of horse-riding Persian diplomats which was used as a technological innovation that kept these riders secure in the stirrups.

It is said that Louis XIV, Europe’s longest-reigning royal ruler was also on the smaller side of five feet, four inches (163 centimeters), pushed his footwear to tower his heels as high as four inches (10 centimeters). As time went on, he felt the need to distinguish his footwear even more. A 1701 portrait shows him in full regalia, including a pair of high-heeled shoes with red-painted heels also known as bloody shoes.

And with the passage of time European women started to assert their equality by adopting traditionally male styles of dress, and thus heel passed in to the hands of women and became their possession.

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