Your questions answered
Yes it is and believe it or not, high heels were originally valued for their practicality. Persian soldiers wore thick heels at the bottom of their shoes to steady their stance as they stood up in their stirrups in order to shoot their bow and arrows effectively.
In 1599, the ruler of Persia, Shah Abbas I, sent his first diplomatic mission to Europe. Subsequently, interest in Persian culture spread and men of the European aristocracy began to wear heels to appear as masculine as those in the Persian cavalry. As the trend for heels filtered down through society, the aristocracy responded by increasing the height of their shoes further, to the point where they were completely impractical. This highlighted the wealth and status of the wearer, emphasising that they did not need to work in the fields or indeed, walk very far.
It wasn’t just a case of status though – many men, such as King Louis XIV of France, wore high heels to increase their height. Under Louis, high heels became ornately decorated and red heels were popular at the Palace of Versailles, with King Charles II of England choosing to adopt them at his Restoration court.
As women sought to appear manlier they too began to wear high heels. During the Enlightenment era, men’s fashion shifted to simple, practical clothing and soon the heel became associated with effeminacy. It wasn’t long before women stopped wearing them as well and the high heel was not seen again until the 19th century.