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Monday, January 10, 2011


High Heels…when did they begin?

High heeled shoes actually go back quite a ways into history. The first ones which snared my interested were known as pattns. They make their appearance in the middle ages. They are more of a second shoe, one that you slipped into to protect your delicate tapestry shoes when going outside. There are reports of them being between eight and thirty inches high. With the higher ones, women needed help walking.

High heeled shoes had different meanings too. The Venetians wore ones they called Chopine. These high heels were difficult to walk in and rumor had it they were designed by husbands seeking to keep their wives from liaisons. Even if that wasn’t true, they were sure to slow you down and ensure you were seen. If you were unmarried, it might be a clever ploy to attract suitors.  

The more modern form of the high heel appeared during the 1500s. Instead of being a platform style shoe, a two part model appeared. The heel was solid and attached to a more flexible piece which ran the length of the foot. A practical use of this was that the heel was used to help keep the boot in the stirrup. Boots for men and women began using a low heel. More fashionable were the lavish models worn at court. Many had expensive buckles or silk ribbons.

When I was doing research for Improper Seduction, my new book from Brava, I noticed heeled shoes making appearances in Henry VIII court. Now, they came and went but seem to have begun with Catherine de Medici. She was queen of France and rumored to be short. Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife adored French fashion and had several pairs of heeled shoes. Henry never wanted to be out dressed so his court was often lavish and those attending must have had to seek out the newest fashions.

In the early 1700s, France's King Louis XIV (The Sun King) decreed that only nobles could wear red heels and that no one might wear higher ones than himself. His were often five inches tall and decorated with miniature battle scenes. High heels began going through periods where the wearer tapped their foot to make it smaller and other such things. With the French revolution, Napoleon actually made heels illegal. But Marie Antoinette went to the scaffold wearing a pair.

In the New World, high heels didn’t fair well. They were considered lavish and sexual. The Puritans banned them. In the Colony of Massachusetts a woman could be tried for witchcraft if she wore them because she was obviously attempting to ‘enchant’ a man. Heels didn’t catch on in America until the Victorian era.

I think I like the velvet ones best and even snuck a few pairs into Improper Seduction. When I write as Dawn Ryder, it’s fun to play with heels but I wanted to take a moment to talk about where they came from. Some things haven’t changed! You can find an excerpt on my website and Improper Seduction in stores this month! You can also find lots of excerpts on my website of more erotic tales. Cheers!

Mary Wine/Dawn Ryder

Writing was something I did as a teen for my younger brothers. My father used to take us on road trips in a motor home and I would lie in the upper bunk with my brothers just concocting stories as the miles went by. Adult life landed on my shoulders along with babies and it wasn’t until a few years ago that my first book, Dream Shadow, just showed up in my head. Grace, my heroine refused to leave, so one night I began to write and rediscovered my love for writing.

Since that first novel, I’ve written many different genres and enjoyed each one. Each character always seems to have their own flavor. Historical costuming has been my other true love and that accounts for my recent run of historical novels. I’m the one that truly enjoys crawling around old land marks and learning about the people that once stood on that same spot. Stories come to mind when I read old bronze markers and my imagination takes flight when I walk on the same cobblestone floors that an earl once did.

My family and I enjoy our southern California home; they even put up with me dragging them to the Magic Kingdom as often as I can. We enjoy historical reenactment too. My sons are the only boys in town that think out-growing their top hats is cause for alarm. My writing desk sits next to several sewing machines that have a constant ‘in progress’ historical garment of some sort sitting on it. When my husband and I go to a formal dinner, it’s often in tails and bustle because we love our Victorian evening wear.

1 comment:

booklover0226 said...

This was an interesting and informative post. I learn something new every day!

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com