men wear high heels

Stepping Through Time in Style: The History of Men's High Heels

Men have been wearing heels in some form since ancient times, both as a functional shoe and for a fashion statement. With time and changes cultural ideas, the popularity of men wearing high heeled shoes evolved and changed to match the ideals of the people at the time. This has led to the style having a rich and varied history that continues to impact male and female fashion even today!

Men’s High Heels in the Ancient World

In the beginning of the history of high heels, men were the originally intended wearers of the style. Elevating them in height, the addition of heels on shoes allowed men to portray themselves with a powerful aura in many settings while also having a variety of functional purposes.

persian cavalary riding boots

First worn by men in 10th Century Persia, high heels were a way for men in the Calvary to keep their feet securely in stirrups. In Ancient Egypt, both men and women wore high heeled sandals as a way to keep their feet protected from the extreme heat of the sand. Mostly worn by the wealthy, these shoes were an indulgence that signified high status while also being a helpful protectant against the elements.

In Ancient Greece, high heels were worn by male actors to display class and gender differences between characters.

The Medieval Era and Men’s High Heels as a Symbol of Power

The Medieval Era was a time of great advancements in culture, fashion, arts and more. With the Medieval times came an influx of new ideas and with them, a stronger evolution of men’s high heels. With them now being worn by those of a higher class to denote status, high heeled shoes were also primarily worn by both sexes to avoid the mess in the streets that were popular for the time.

18th century men wearing heels

In France, King Louis XIV was well-known for his red heeled shoes, as they were considered a sign of virility and masculinity! This was also seen in England, and other places in Europe. High heeled shoes for males helped them to show off their calves, a look that was achieved by wearing tights too as was the fashion. Following the French Revolution, the popularity of men wearing high heels declined, while women were wearing them at a higher rate to signify power and status.

High Heels for Men Continued into Recent History

Circling back around, as fashion trends tend to do, high heeled shoes for men once again became synonymous with working boots.

Functionally made to protect the wearer, these styles are easily recognised now as Cowboy boots, Stockman shoes, and even combat boots. With the thick sole and strong heel meaning that much like the Persian Calvary, cowboys could ensure that their foot was more secure in their horse’s stirrups, well-made heeled boots were the sign of a horse-riding man.

heeled cowbot boots

Being popular in America with Cowboys and gaining popularity in other countries, men’s high heels were again seen as a status symbol, but this time for a different type of man. These shoes were generally made from leather and lasted for many years before needing replacement.

They were not so much a vanity item, but a masculine shoe for a particular purpose. These shoes provided protection, and added stability to the rider while they undertook their activities.

Modern Time and Modern Attitudes

Like most shoe styles over the years, high heels have flourished in many ways to be a shoe loved by men in a whole host of situations. Once worn to demonstrate the wearer’s status socially, men’s high heels in modern fashion are both a staple and a show piece. For example, men’s dress shoes quite often have a heel to add extra height, a small nod to the previous iterations of the style.

However, with the progress of the LGBTQIA+ community and a loosening of cultural gender expectations regarding fashion, we are now joyfully experiencing many men incorporating high heels into their look.

drag queens wear high heels

From famous queer and straight men wearing high heels on red carpets to break down gender norms, to a rise in the popularity of gender-free clothing in pop culture; men in the modern world are embracing high heel shoes in multiple forms.

Modern Men Rock High Heels

Gone are the days of men having boring fashion options; with high heels becoming vogue for men, we are seeing some amazing creative outfit choices that demand attention. Some places men are rocking the heeled style include:

High Fashion Photo shoots: It is increasingly becoming popular to see men of all ages, body shapes, and personal styles modelling in high heel styles.

LGBT Events: From Pride Parades and community events, men wearing heels is a beautiful, fashionable part of the inclusive LGBT+ events and occasions! In a place where everyone is welcome to be their authentic selves, wearing clothing that reflects your inner self is vital!  

Burlesque Shows: Fabulous and fashionable, Burlesque promotes a strong environment of inclusivity and welcomes men in high heels in both the on-stage presence and the audience!  

Weddings: Many modern guys wear high heels at their weddings as a way to add some height and fun to their groom outfit.

Work: While it isn’t completely popular yet, but definitely on the rise, corporate men in heels is becoming more common. While perhaps not always a stiletto style, heeled shoes on men are a popular office look.

Casual Styling: From ankle boots for men to court shoes, many men enjoy the look of casual heeled boots that make them stand out from the crowd!

Drag Shows: One of the most popular ways that men wear high heels is during Drag Shows! Always fabulous, the Drag Queen has perfected the art of styling a sexy drag heel!

Pole Dancing: Male pole dancers are a huge community that embraces high heels regardless of gender and look great while doing so! It is also very popular for male dancers to wear high heels to help their posture and movement!

male pole dancer wear high heels

Men wearing high heels might have had moments of being taboo over time, but there are so many examples of guys rocking high heels throughout history and into our modern styling!

With a rich history around the world, heeled shoes have been a staple for men in many variants. From functional work boots to today’s gender-free fashion, high heels are once again a popular choice that everyone can enjoy.

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