It’s a simple word and it has a simple purpose: To cover the foot and provide a rigid base on which the sole and heel can walk. Yet, this same word has the power to elicit squeals of joy and tears of happiness from women all over the world. The shoe has the ability to establish wealth and status. It can raise your height and correct your stature. But most of all, women love shoes because well, they are just so darn cute! (Even Cinderella fell in love with the prince because he found her lost glass slipper). But this obsession with shoes is not new, it goes as far back as humanity itself…
The oldest known shoe found, is a 5,300-year-old “Ice Man” shoe in the Tyrolean Alps made of animal hide and wood netting. It was stuffed with straw and moss for padding (the caveman was a long distant relative of Dr Scholl’s).
Next we have Pharaoh and Cleopatra. Egypt is a hot country with a blazing sun. When these rulers walked around the sand they preferred to do it in golden, open-toed sandals. And really, who wants to get a farmer’s tan on your feet?
The Romans were not just great warriors, they were also great shoemakers. They are documented as the first to develop shoes fitted specifically for the left and right feet. Take a look around today, ‘Gladiators’ are the latest footwear trend, worn by top models and school children alike.
Who can forget the classic klompen ? The traditional all-wooden clogs were worn by factory workers in the Netherlands to avoid sharp objects, but were quickly prized for their fun clatter as the wood strikes the pavement. Dutch dancers are still clonking away today.
The ultimate winner in shoe comfort goes to the Native Americans. Sitting Bull and Pocahontas knew they were onto something when they put on those cozy warm moccasins. If I were John Smith I would’ve wanted to walk down the aisle in moccasins too.
Add some material around the calf, and poof – you get boots! Whether you are in the Russian army or a cowboy in Texas: rough weather, war and animals meant putting on your boots.
Remove some material from the standard shoe and you get the highly versatile flip-flop. Slip it on for the beach and slip it off for the pool. Easy as 1, 2, 3! FYI: If you see a sign in front of a fancy restaurant in England or Australia that reads ‘No Thongs,’ they are talking about your footwear.
Alas! I save the best for last. The high heel came into fashion with Elizabeth’s reign in the late 16th century. Proper heels were worn by both men and women; often colorfully decorated with rosettes, lace, ribbon, and embroidery. Even King Louis XIV of France was known for his red leather heels.
In fact, the shoe is so ingrained into our society and culture, some may argue the affinity to footwear is borderline unhealthy… How many pairs of shoes does the average woman own?
Answer: On average, a female from ages 13-16 may own about 15 pair of shoes including sneakers.
Older women 16-21, who perhaps have a job: 25-40 pairs
A mature woman 25-50, anywhere from 40-60 pair of shoes.
That is quite a lot of shoes. What about animals; they have shoes too. Why do horses wear shoes?
Answer: A horseshoe is a “U”-shaped item made of metal, steel, iron or a modern synthetic materials that is nailed or glued to the hooves of horses. In the wild, horses walk on meadows, dirt and other softer surfaces. But horses in captivity walk on gravel, roads, rocks plus they are carrying the extra weight of a person or supplies. The horseshoes provide protection to the hooves and maintains a relatively flat surface. Different types of horseshoes are available to match the types of activity.
So horses wear shoes for utility, while people decorate their shoes for a myriad of superficial reasons. Is this so wrong? My pointy toed , jewel crested 4 inch suede heels may not have a lot of utility (in fact they are quite painful) but they do have a lot of sole!