Human beings have utilized shoes for thousands of years, starting out as a way for us to protect our feet and for comfort. Today, however, they also serve the purpose of fashion alongside providing protection and comfort. Since shoes are a commonplace item in today’s world, it is easy to overlook the fact that they have a rich history, with their design varying tremendously throughout history and cultures.
There are a number of interesting facts about shoes that are too good not to share. So, check out this list of facts you didn’t know about shoes that will blow your mind:
1. Sneakers Got Their Name from the Fact That They are Perfect to Sneak Around in
The name “Sneakers” was originally used as early as the 1800s in reference to how rubber soles are very quiet on the ground, allowing the wearer to “sneak up” to someone. The word “sneaker” is also attributed to the advertising agent Henry Nelson McKinney who worked for N. E. Ayer & Son. He used the term “sneaker” because the wearer of sneakers could walk around stealthily.
2. The First Means of Measurement for Shoe Size was A Grain of Barley
The use of grain to measure a foot (measurement) for making sandals can be dated back to the Roman civilization. However, this unit became widespread during the middle ages when the British validated this measurement method. During King Edward II’s reign, he issued a royal order in 1324 declaring that an inch was equal to the length of three grains. With this decree, the grain measurement system started to become more popular around the world. Interestingly, this unit of measurement is still official in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
3. High Heels Were First Worn by Men, Not Women
Today, high heels are more commonly used by women, although historically, they were first used by men. High heels are originally thought to have been used by the Persian cavalry to ensure that the rider’s feet stayed in the stirrups. As owning a horse was a sign of status and wealth, the use of high heels also became a sign of aristocracy and a sign of wealth.
In the 17th century, high heels were brought to Europe by Persian emissaries. They were even used by King Louis XIV to show his high status. Hence, high heels started to be used widely by men from the upper class to show their high status. As the use of high heels became more and more common and members of society other than the upper-class began wearing them, the upper-class started wearing higher and higher heels to distinguish themselves from the lower classes.
Men wore thick heels, whereas women wore thin heels. High heels also eventually started to serve the purpose of protecting the wearer from the filth and rubbish on the street.
4. Women in the US Own 19 Pairs of Shoes on Average
According to research, an average woman in the US owns 19 pairs of shoes. However, some studies show that women in the US own 21 pairs of shoes on average. But they only use four pairs regularly.
5. The Most Expensive Pair of Shoes Ever Sold for $660,000
Yes, you read that right. The record for being the most expensive pair of shoes ever sold is held rightfully by the iconic Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The shoes were sold for a staggering $660,000 at an auction in 2000.
6. The First-Ever Woman for Whom Boots Were Made Was Queen Victoria
The first boots made for women were created by Joseph Sparkes, a footwear expert from London. He made these boots using elastane and cotton. This pair of dainty elastic-sided boots were presented to Queen Victoria in 1840.
As these shoes did not have any laces or buttons and were very comfortable, they quickly became popular among women as well as men from different social classes.
7. Lotus Feet Were Considered Erotic for Decades in China
Lotus feet remained a standard of beauty in China, especially during the 10th-11th century. This style of fashion seems strange for western countries. The golden lotus feet refer to the practice of breaking and folding toes so that the feet can fit into special shoes. These special shoes were very small in size.
In China, when this act of reducing the foot’s size was practiced, small feet were considered beautiful and even erotic.
8. The Record Number of Shoes Owned is 3,400 Pairs
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the biggest collection of shoes is held by Imelda Macros. She has a collection of 3,400 pairs of shoes. A close second is the famous singer Celine Dion who has a collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes.
9. No Distinction between the Shoe for the Left and Right Foot before the 1800s
Although this statement is not entirely true, as left and right shoes were first created by the Ancient Romans. However, left and right shoes did not become common until the 1800s. Before this, shoes were designed in such a way that they could be worn on either foot. Shoes until this point were not made for comfort.
10. Marie Antoinette Owned About 500 Pairs of Shoes
According to historians, Queen Marie Antoinette owned somewhere around five hundred pairs of shoes. However, the reason behind owning so many shoes is not just fashion. According to research, Versailles was so dirty that the noble aristocrats would not clean their shoes. Instead, they would throw away the shoes after wearing them for a few days.
Hence, during this period, an individual from the French noble class would wear and throw away many shoes during their lifetime. Another interesting fact is that Marie Antoinette was guillotined while wearing high heel shoes, which resulted in the decline of high heels among women, as they did not want to be seen as careless and full of pride like the queen.
11. A Pair of Shoes on Average Can Last for 400 Miles
However, this figure can vary from shoe to shoe. Over our lifetime, most of us walk around 115,000 miles which is equivalent to walking all the way around the earth four times. This means that an individual will be able to wear out two hundred and ninety pairs of shoes during his lifetime.
12. The invention of Wedge Shoes
During the 1940s, Italy experienced trade close, which resulted in steel becoming unavailable. This led Salvatore Ferragamo to create wedge shoes as he experimented with creating shoes out of new materials.
13. In Ancient Egypt, Only Those with Higher Status Could Wear Pointed Sandals
In ancient Egypt, shoes were a good way to know which social class an individual belonged to. One could look at the shoes of a person walking down the street and tell what that person’s status was. In ancient Egypt, slaves wore sandals that were made using palm leaves, whereas commoners would wear sandals made using papyrus.
Shoes colored red and yellow could only be worn by the members of the highest class. Pointed sandals were also reserved for individuals from the higher class.
Ever thought that there would be such interesting facts related to shoes? Well, to be honest, you are not at fault either for not knowing. Shoes are a daily requirement, and people don’t usually try to know anything about such things at all. This is exactly why we gathered all these facts for you, so you can know whatever you have missed on till now.