Women have been wild about high heels for a long, long time!
They were originally created around the year 1600 in order to keep a rider’s foot from slipping forward in the stirrup. The “rider’s heel” was then born and to this day is 1.5 inches high for just that reason.
Since then men and women alike were determined to bring higher heels into fashion simply because they liked they way they look.
High heels during the mid 19th century.
Boots were still the most common form of footwear for everyday outdoor activities, including leisurely walks in the park. Women usually wore a more feminine version, with laces up the front and lower heel heights of an inch or so. Fur trim and buckles on boots could be found in fashionable cities such as Paris and London.
Slippers were worn for social events, and these could have heel heights up to 2 inches, or for the more daring, 3 inches, and were usually satin or velvet with beautiful embroidery and bows on them.
About high heels and a woman’s height.
Women were not “supposed” to be tall in the 1840s and indeed up until the 1960s, when everything in the world changed, women were considered to be more attractive if they were on the petite side.
Being a shorter woman, which in 1840 meant 4′ 8 to 4′ 10, wasn’t much different from the “taller” woman who was perhaps 5’2″ or of 5’3″. My main character, Margarita Maria Merriton, stood at 5’7″ back then, which made her a veritable giant, but still loved the look and feel of a high-heeled shoe with her ball gowns.
Dancing in high heels.
Being a little taller does make dancing a waltz with a man much easier. Men were typically 5’7″ to 5’9″ in the mid 19th century and so if a woman was closer to at least 5’0″, it made it easier to reach up/down and hold on to your partner.
Not only the reach comes into the equation here, it’s also the total length of the body itself. Couple dancing is also called “mirror” dancing because the aim is for one dancer to be a reflection of the other and their movements should be done in unison. Bringing the height of the two closer by wearing high heels, allows for better contact between the torso and legs and therefore makes it much easier for a woman to follow the man.
In my CounterClockwise series my ladies dress beautifully and sometimes get into trouble for wearing what might’ve been considered “daring” in their day.
Why I chose this image.
Margarita was a rebel. No doubt about it. She wore her hair down, very long, said no to a corset unless it was worn for her husband’s pleasure, and adored bright colors that were not usually in the wardrobe of high society women.
If she were to be in today’s world, Margarita would be seen in skinny jeans, high-heeled pumps or boots, a tee-shirt and jacket. That would be her signature outfit. Oh…..and it’s mine too LOL!