It’s hard to beat a pair of heels when it comes to looking fabulous and exuding confidence. That said, nothing is worse than slipping into a pair of gorgeous high-heel shoes only to find that your feet are screaming for relief within 15 minutes. Here we discuss the origin of high heels, some of the most popular styles, and how you can comfortably wear all your favourite elevated looks!
The surprising origin of the high-heeled shoe
If you think high heels are an invention of the modern fashion industry, think again. The earliest recorded evidence of high heels comes from Iran in the 10th century, and it was the Persian army who will go down in history as the first proud wearers of high heels.
And no, they weren’t looking to intimidate their enemy with their wicked sense of fashion. Rather, they were employing the same principle we see on cowboy boots today—the heels help the shoe stay in the stirrup and give the horse rider more stable mobility.
Over the years, diverse groups have worn high heels for many reasons. We have a depiction of a female dancer in high heels from the 12th century, and by the 1400s, women in Europe wore high platformed shoes called chopines. By the 17th century, high-heeled shoes had taken on a form more akin to the heels of today. Though initially, it was men who you were likely to see sporting these luxurious new shoes—the king and noblemen in particular.
As the commoners looked to their leaders for inspiration, you saw more and more people imitating the style of the king and his court. Female courtesans had also begun to wear high-heeled shoes during the 17th century.
Jumping to the 20th century, the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn helped to make high heels the desired fashion staple that they are today. Of course, thanks to the rise of androgynous fashion, heeled shoes are not strictly limited to women’s wear. Although there are still many more styles of high heels for women, they are slowly making their way back into men’s shoe fashion.
Types of heels
These days, we have a vast selection of comfortable high-heel shoe styles and types available. From stilettos to kitten heels (and everything in between), there is a heeled shoe for every occasion. And since we believe that every outfit deserves to have the perfect accompanying footwear, we’d like to go over some of the most popular high-heel styles and discuss how you can incorporate them into your personal look.
Love them or hate them, you can’t properly discuss heels without mentioning the polarising stiletto and pin heels. These spikey heels are perfect for making a statement and do wonders if you’re looking to add some glamour to an outfit. In addition to more classic designs, you can also find a huge variety of slingbacks and strappy heels in this category. These versatile and fun-loving options can be used to dress up a pair of jeans or make a cocktail dress more playful.
Moving to a more accessible heel style, mid-heels are the perfect shoe for adding an air of elegance to your look without compromising comfort. Sleek, sophisticated, and capable of being dressed up or down, the mid-heel is perfect for creating that elongated effect without too much fuss. In this category you will also find the ideal mix of classic and flirtatious styles, including block, spool, and comma heels. Thanks to the balanced proportions, mid heels also tend to be very comfortable and suit a wide range of foot shapes. So whether you’re going out for drinks with friends or to a wedding, mid-height heels can really pull a look together.
From flares, squares, and block heels to mules and wedges, countless chunky styles are now available on the market. This footwear option can be styled with absolutely anything you want, starting from cropped trousers to slip dresses and jeans. Generally offering a very comfortable wear, chunky heels are a great staple in your closet and can help add a touch of personality to nearly any outfit.
Easy to walk in, kitten heels are the perfect intro for those who might still shy away from something more dramatic like a stiletto. They’re perfect if you’re looking for a bit of height without drawing too much attention and are another highly versatile style of heel that will complement many of the outfits you already have in your wardrobe.
What heel is right for you?
In the event that you’re new to high-heel shoes or want to incorporate a new type of shoe into your look, we recommend you try a couple of different styles.
Everyone’s feet are shaped differently, so certain types of heels will fit more comfortably depending on your unique foot anatomy. Although, thanks to the fact that many brands increasingly create shoes specific to different shapes, you don’t have to forgo your dream of rocking four-inch stilettos simply because you have a wider foot.
If you’re looking for guidance when matching your shoes and outfit, check out our guide that can help you select the perfect complete style for any occasion. And once you’ve chosen the right pair, here are a few more tips for comfortable wear that will ensure you can float through any room in your high-heel shoes of choice.
Tips for wearing heels
Don’t assume that your feet stay precisely that same size
If you’re struggling to find comfort in a pair of heels, chances are that you are not wearing the right size and shape. Your foot size changes over the years, even as much as one full size. Have your feet measured for width and length at least once a year. Many people think they have wide or narrow feet when the opposite is true based on length. Consult a local Bata shoe shop professional to get an accurate measurement.
Understand your foot type
In addition to the size, it is helpful to understand if you’re working with a high arch, a flat foot, or an average arch. A good trick for figuring this out is wetting your foot and stepping onto a piece of construction paper. Making an impression will show you how much your foot is flattening or how high of an arch you have. Typically, people with a naturally higher arch tend to be more comfortable in higher heels, while a flat foot will feel more at home in a kitten heel. Here you can find a complete overview of choosing shoes in accordance with your foot type.
If you’re experiencing discomfort, opt for a thicker sole
Thin soles aren’t always the right choice if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet. For added comfort, look for thicker soles or a platform. This will offset some pressure when you’re walking. In addition, rubbery material will absorb unwanted pressure.
Boost comfort with gel insoles
If you want to ensure you can wear your heels in comfort all day long, it’s a good idea to look for products marketed for high heels. Like the Bata Insolia, which has been specially designed to reduce forefoot pressure, improve posture and balance, and extend comfortable wear time. The Insolia insoles distribute the weight balance 50/50 between the front and back end, combating soreness under the ball of the foot. Regardless of the shoe, though, adding a standard gel insole to any pair of heels can be a great way to enjoy a more comfortable experience over a longer period of time.
Final thoughts on high heels
High heels have weathered wars, laws, and cultural, social, and political revolutions. Thankfully, today we have advanced shoe technology to ensure you can enjoy wearing the many styles on offer in comfort. So whether you need comfortable high heels for work or are looking to dance the night away in comfortable heels at a wedding—you have plenty to choose from when finding the perfect pair.