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The History Of Womens Shoes: An Overview Of Styles

Author : Jamie Simpson


No other fashion accessory evokes as much attention and emotion as the woman's shoe. The styles represent the social mindset of the age and the sensibilities of the wearer, while the quality and decoration are indicative of their wealth and class. Footwear fashions have evolved throughout time and now continue to change almost every season. The earliest known shoes appeared to serve merely as protection for the foot and used simple materials and styles. However, it is conceivable that the ability to get raw materials and create shoes was an admirable thing and shoes began to take their place as social symbols.

Early in footwear history, women's shoes were hidden under long gowns, limiting the opportunity to express style and fashion through footwear and relegating the shoe to more practical purposes. The earliest womens' shoes as we know them today were "pattens," soft slippers sewn of fabric or soft leather that offered little support or protection. More substantial construction came later in the form of "chopines," made of sturdier bases, of wood or cork for example, and on higher heels to elevate the wearer above the muck of the street, both physically and figuratively. Variations of shoes that added height and balanced women on their toes spread throughout Europe, at times, reaching ridiculous extremes that dangerous to the wearer. French fashionistas brought the classic high-heeled shoe as we know it into vogue in the sixteenth century, and it is a style that endures today.

In the 1800s, women owned fewer shoes aimed at making a fashion statement. A woman may have owned only one pair of rugged boots for everyday use and one pair of more delicate slippers worn for dress and special occasions. However, interest in new choices in quality, style, and function grew as manufacturing opportunities grew and shoes became more assessable.

In the early to mid-1900s, women began to seek more eye-catching design and glamorous fashion statements from their shoes. Hemlines rose in the 1920s and women began to pay more attention to their feet, demanding feminine, beautiful footwear. From this point in history, women's shoes begin a fast changing and constant evolution of style and fashion. In the 1950s, stiletto and pointed toes became popular. These features evolved to the boots of the 1960s and endured until the 70s, when flat shoes and low heels became fashionable again. Later in the 70s, platforms shoes, reminiscent of chopines, returned. In the 80s, athletic inspired styles gained popularity and became more commonplace as everyday footwear. The 90s brought back stilettos and every changing heel shapes. Through these phases of major style changes, subtle updates in design, color, and features entice women to constantly update their shoe wardrobes in their efforts to remain fashionable. Current fashions offer more variety of style options, function, and feature than ever.

While early shoe designs were limited to a few styles and purposes, modern footwear offers a vast range of styles and practical uses. Shoe fashions continue to change with the seasons and the whims of fashion designers and women who follow them.


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Submitted : 2011-02-21    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 455