High Heels – Why Did Men Wear Shoes With Heels?

High Heels – Why Did Men Wear Shoes With Heels?

During the Met Gala Ball and fashion weeks right now. Men are wearing women’s clothes and high heels. I want to share the historical truth that men did wear high heels first. But there was a legitimate and purposeful reason for it. Unlike today! In the 17th century,  the intellectual movement had started to stereotype men as rational and practical, while women as sentimental and foolish.

In 2021, it seems the role has reversed. Are men wearing high heels deemed foolish?  I have to admit, we all had a good laugh at the men at the Met Gala ball. But why are luxury fashion houses funded mainly by Chinese investors portraying men in women’s clothes?

I assure you it’s forbidden in China for men to wear high heels. So why is the West doing it?

High Heels For Men - They Wore Them First

Men Wore High Heels First

Men wore high heels before women, hard to fathom right? But why did they do it?

Men’s high-heeled shoes were first worn by Persian soldiers in the 10th century. To elevate their feet, giving them stability while shooting their bows and arrows. At the time men heels symbolise high social stature, military power and fashionable taste.

Nowadays, stilettoes and heels are broadly associated with female style and female sexuality. So men if you want to wear high heels, do it for your powerful status, not because fashion weeks or events are telling you.

In Which Era Did Men Wear Heels?

The heels that both men and women wore in the early years of the 17th century were very low, but they would rise for both sexes as the century progressed. The majority of powerful and privileged men wore heels during the 17th century and into the early 18th century. Persian riders also wore one-inch heel shoes to signify it as a symbol of wealth and power. I can relate to this because when I wear high heels, it makes are look and feel powerful. It attracts men to my feminine side and I get more progress by doing it.
Not sure if men wearing high heels today would get the same result?

Fashion Symbolism

Persian soldiers and migrants brought the shoe trend to Europe, which was considered fashionable. Later, the European aristocrats adopted the new trend as a powerful military tactic to appear taller. When in combat, taller men even now are put at the front of the battle.  Louis XIV was famous as the king of heels. Under his reign, it was considered that the higher and redder the heel, the more powerful the wearer. He passed a law in 1670 that only the nobility should wear heel shoes. You thought Christian Louboutin did it first? The king used to wear shoes with red colour heels or soles.  The members of his court were also allowed to wear red heels. High heels at the time for men were a status symbol for empowerment.
Unlike what the marketing of fashion houses of today! That men, wearing women’s clothes allows men to be more in touch with their feminine side. 

Women Craved Wearing High Heels

At the time women craved to adopt masculine elements in their fashion sense.  Like trimming hair shorts and wearing hats.

Isn’t ironic that historically, that men copied women and women copied men in the world of fashion.

When the women started wearing heels. it was a part of adopting men’s style in their clothing.

But of course, women heels were narrower, ornamental and higher than men’s heel-shoes. Because our feet are more feminine. We can walk in them better and it suited our lifestyle.

Platforms 1970's men

I have not worn high heels for years! I find them very uncomfortable and impractical. That’s the point of high heels made for women.

Why Did Men Stop Wearing High Heels?

In the 17th century, men started abandoning bright colour clothes, jewellery, exquisite fabrics to practical and sober clothing.  In 1740, men stopped wearing heel shoes. The demand for sophistication, impracticality and wearing simple dresses had stopped the high heeled shoe fashion among men. They started to emphasized practicality and rationality over luxury and fashion which was known as the Great Male Renunciation. This is why men of today are not going to buy into wearing a skirt, dress or wearing high heels. If they do it’s mainly at a fancy dress event and for a good laugh.

Historically fashion houses marketing, are at the forefront of distinguishing between what men and women should wear.


Heels For 2021

Heels came back in the mid-19th century, where men wore low heeled cowboy boots and platform shoes. The 1970’s platforms were very masculine and popular.  Men wearing heels used to symbolize power, wealth and masculinity!  So seeing men wearing high heels! What is the message? As a man today wearing women’s high heels. What is the end goal? A good laugh if nothing else.

acdz platforms 1970s

1970,s ACDC band wearing platforms.

About The Author

Gracie Opulanza

Global menswear and luxury lifestyle journalist. Co-founder and editor in chief of Men Style Fashion. GracieOpulanza.com is my personal blog.

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