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On Aug. 27 Ms. Nachman wrote:< I'm looking for fashion/cultural background on high heels. They were popular on men's shoes, circa Louis XIV, which to me makes sense given the lofty sense of male superiority. When and why did they become a staple of women's footwear? Deliberately to impair our movement? showing off a "well-turned ankle"?> Actually, high heeled/soled shoes go back way past Louis XIV, as a means of keeping out of the mud/muck/water/sewage, etc. If one reads descriptions of the hallways of even Louis XIV's palaces, with people relieving themselves in corners, stairwells, and hallways,etc., it is easy to understand why men and women wanted to "rise above" what was on the floor or street. They were common for men and women in China and Japan, based on painting, at least back to the 11th Century (being left on the doorstep of course). As with many things, what orginated as practical necessity was, for the middle and upper classes, turned into fashionable footwear. The French and Italians, as the dominate fashion centers, kept refining the high heeled shoe, creating some interesting shapes with the heel as the centuries went by. The infamous "spike" high heel was a 20th Century creation. The Smithsonian has an interesting collection of footwear. Maria Griffin