I dream of valiant knights, strong women, flowing gowns and romantic castles. I’m not a fan of women as victims but rather women that are self-sufficient, mentally strong and resourceful. My heroes are self-confident men who are intelligent with ripped abs and commanding auras. These two alpha characters must work together as a team to meet their challenges and find love.
But this blog is about clothes. When I researched 17th century clothes for my Druid Knight, Lord Arik I was surprised to find that men wore high heels long before women.
Sometime around the ninth century, Persian horseback warriors appear to be the first high heel wearers. The longer heel was specifically created to help keep the rider’s foot in the stirrup and prevent it from slipping. The high heels helped the rider steady themselves when standing in the stirrups and shooting arrows.
When a group of Persian diplomats visited Europe in the late 1500’s to recruit allies to help defeat the Ottoman Empire, the craze for Persian culture exploded and with it the Western European aristocrat desire for the Persian-style high heeled shoes. The shoes quickly became a status symbol and the heels heightened to make men look taller.
In the 1600s Louis XIV of France was an intense shoe collector and trend setter. Shorter than average, Louis wore four inch heels. Over time he had red heels put on all his shoes and decreed that only the upper class of society could have red heels. Could this be the reason why Christian Louboutin (not Yves St Laurent) has red soles on all his high heels?
Women soon started wearing heels in a show of equality. Fashion began to adapt into more affordable versions and eventually the trend filtered down to the other classes. The elite’s response was to make their heels higher, more expensive. They also began to distinguish heels between the sexes, men’s heels were wide and women’s heels were skinny.
Eventually, men gave up high heels completely. Since the 18th century, men’s shoes have been mostly low heels.
For my Lord Arik… high heels wouldn’t work. In my story, Knight of Rapture, Lord Arik finds himself in the 21st century. To integrate into the era he dons clothes of the day. Not too bad!