When I was thinking about high heels and how they make you feel; my mind wandered to other uses of the word high; lately many things seem to be prefixed with it. High fashion, high end, high rise, high price, high speed, high definition, high achiever, high life, high class to name a few. The word high can mean of a great height in its literal sense but usually used metaphorically it means superior or above somebody or something. Generally it suggests a positive attribute but I want to ask when is high too high; thus making it a negative connotation?
I believe high definition television is a phenomenon which men have convinced themselves improves their viewing experience. All the women I have spoken to can not see any difference and as long as I can watch my programmes, I can’t see any advantage. I guess when they have splashed out on all this technology (a male equivalent to shoes) they have to convince themselves it was worth it!!
The high life is certainly something you can have too much of! Most of my late teens were spent living the high life which resulted in an awful lot of debt for one thing! When I was in my last job, I thought it would be wonderful if I didn’t have to go to work again but once I found myself redundant; after a while I realized that you can have too much of a good thing and was actually pleased when I started my latest job.
High expectations can also be a way to set you up for disappointment especially when it comes to men and romance. You do however sometimes find yourself pleasantly surprised such as the lovely flowers my other half got me for getting onto my teacher training course.
Now getting back to the subject of the blog; it is generally thought that a heel of 1-2 inches is low, 2-4 inches medium and more than 4 inches high. High heel footwear lifts the heel of the wearer’s foot appreciably higher than the toes. As far back as the ancient Egyptian times, heels were worn by men and women, although often for practical reasons such as for butchers to walk above the blood, rather than the glamorous reasons of today. Pattens which were a high sole attached to shoes were often worn to keep shoes out of mud and debris. Heels were also necessary for horse riding to keep the foot in the stirrup. Actors would wear them to depict the differing status of characters which they played. Let me refer you to my blog on harem trousers; there is some suggestion women were made to wear heels to prevent them from escaping a harem. Far from the high heels being used to raise the status of a woman, they were in fact repressing them by stopping them escaping from men.
The upper classes often wore heels for ceremonial purposes. Their popularity began in France but soon spread to other countries nobility. During the French revolution the wearing of heels declined as they were seen as a sign of wealth but they were resurrected in the late nineteenth century almost solely for women’s wear.
The stiletto heel (one of my favourites) is named after the stiletto dagger and became popular in the late 1950s. The Beetles era saw these disappear from mainstream shops but my namesake Manolo Blahnik reintroduced them in 1974 with a heel called the Needle and shops like Biba also stocked similar styles. The stiletto’s real comeback though was post year 2000. Manolo Blahnik has said he tries to make women feel like princesses. Certainly if I am ever fortunate enough to get married, the shoes will be more important than the dress to make me feel like a princess. It’s a good job that my other half doesn’t feel intimidated by me looking taller than him as heels have always been my statement!
We often hear of the negatives of wearing heels, such as foot and tendon problems but there has also been a study which suggests that they may help tone pelvic floor muscles thus having a positive effect on women’s incontinence. A note to my many friends now entering the motherhood period of their lives; if you don’t have time for your pelvic floor exercises, just walk around doing the house work in high heels! Talking of which, I met my friends new baby girl the other week. There are so many gorgeous outfits for new babies but I eventually chose a cute pink baby grow with embroidered butterflies.
Women however are resilient and will go through no end of pain for the sake of fashion. According to an American survey 42% of women said they would wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort. (Bouchez, C. “Tips to avoid Foot Pain From High Heels”) I must admit I am one of these women. People often marvel at the height of the heels I wear; only the other day two women at work commented that they liked my shoes but didn’t know how I could wear them all day long! As a woman was quoted by the New York Times as saying to another lady, trying shoes on in Bergdorf Goodman, “if you love them, you’ll learn to walk in them.” The Belfast Telegraph reports that the average woman owns 17 pairs of shoes – that makes me well above average, especially including my latest purchase of red ballet pumps! It also said the average woman spends almost two thirds of her time in heels.
France has long been seen as the fashion leaders of the world and high fashion or haute couture as it is known in French refers to the design of exclusive custom fitted clothing. It is an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth nonetheless who is seen as the father of haute couture. He made the dressmaker more of an artist and prepared portfolios of designs to be shown on models at the House of Worth. The French protect the term haute couture and firms must meet certain standards to use it, although since the late 80’s it has been misused to describe more ready to wear lines. Chanel and Christian Dior are probably two of the most well known fashion houses that can officially be called haute couture. Now Chanel is another of my favourite brands. The fashion house was founded by Gabrielle Chanel in 1909. She was nicknamed “Coco” when she was singing in a French café. I aspire to her vision of casual elegance. Chanel is classic and is most famous for the little black dress, along with the quilted bags; launched Feb 1955, the bags have printed in them 2/55, and of course one of the only thing my budget stretches to, their perfume. I got my first bottle of Chanel perfume at 16, Chanel Allure which was launched in 1996. I moved on to Chance, launched 2002 but have eventually picked my favourite as the classic first perfume, Chanel No. 5 launched in 1921. To me it is the epitome of simple elegance. I couldn’t resist a red Chanelesque bag, a bargain in the fashion union sale!
So fashion and good shoes come at a high price but perhaps the way they make us feel can help us to be high achievers. I read an article once that said one should dress for the job they want, rather than the one they have. Good clothes and shoes certainly give me an air of confidence. Now whilst we are on the subject of high achievement; this can come with a high cost too. Generally these people are perfectionists and this can lead to anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder. Their work focus can sometimes cause them to neglect their personal relationships making them lonely people, vulnerable to depression. So there is another example of when high becomes too high.
Depressing January gave way to February and we all woke on the 5th to a blanket of snow 3 ½ inches deep. It was Rufus’s first experience and he loved it whilst my other half and I went back to childhood and built a snowman. Interesting useless fact here, although origins of snowmen are unclear, the first illustration of a snowman seen in a book dates back to 1380!
I shall end this blog with high hopes of the year to come; Valentine’s is tomorrow and remember girls it’s a leap year this year which means the woman can propose to the man traditionally. When this tradition originated is unclear although there is some suggestion that it was initiated by Saint Patrick in Ireland in the 5th century. I shall leave you with the excitement of the spring fashions; pastel denim seems to be popular (I have already bought some mint coloured skinny jeans) but more details in my next blog after I visit London fashion week at the end of the month. I also treated myself to a sheer leopard print top which I thought was a subtle way of wearing the trend, not that my other half agreed, lol!
Remember, I like to think of HEEL as standing for Highly Elegant Efficient Lady – no heel is ever too high!