A good high-heel shoe is barely a shoe at all. It is a precarious perch for walking, with little more than a curving insole below the foot, a band or two of leather or fabric around the toes, and perhaps a thin strap behind the heel. If the high heel is also a mule, then the foot is even less secured, reducing the shoe to a mere ornament at the bottom of the leg—the dot, if you will, below an emphatic fashion exclamation mark.

Though usually tapered and sleek, high heels can range from wide and chunky to narrow and sharp. Regardless of their shape, though, most are utilitarian in design, a supporting player to the leather, snakeskin, or satin uppers that are, after all, the first things to catch the eye.

Some designers lavish the heels of their shoes with attention anyway. Todd Oldham has covered some of his wide, gold-leaf heels with gaudy costume jewels. Stuart Weitzman prefers rhinestones. And Roger Vivier, who many credit with inventing the modern stiletto heel, has created high heels that resemble pyramids, snails, and rose branches with protruding thorns.

The stiletto is the most notorious type of high heel, so named for its spiky, lethal-looking shape. Stilettos typically come to a point of less than half an inch in diameter, creating a staggering 1,500 pounds-per-square inch of pressure on the ground when worn by even a 100-pound woman. That compares rather unfavorably to the 75 psi created by the footfalls of a 6,000-pound elephant.

Regardless of their shape, high heels are prized and praised for a multitude of reasons. For designers like Manolo Blahnik whose background includes architecture, high heels are the closest they get to sculpture. For women, high heels force flattering definition in their leg and butt muscles, and there is even evidence that high heels have a positive affect on the pelvis.

The cost for all this toning is often unbearable foot pain, crippling knee problems, and a general inability to be fleet-footed, which is why many women view high-heel shoes—from no-nonsense pumps to slinky sandals—with disdain and even contempt. The marabou mule is the most frequent object of their ire. Named for the dyed stork feathers that create “poofs” of color on the shoe’s vamp, the marabou is the classic, Hollywood-sex-kitten bedroom wear, suggesting, say their critics, subservience rather than style.

Still, the high heel has many more fans than foes. In addition to Vivier, Blahnik, and others, some of the most famous high heels (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) have been created by designers such as André Perugia, Salvatore Ferragamo, Terry de Havilland, Vivienne Westwood, Maud Frizon, Karl Lagerfeld, Bernard Figueroa, Christian Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo. Even fashion houses as established as Chanel and Dior have also made sure that they have high heels for their well-heeled customers, be they professional women in power suits or aspiring pop stars.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

MyVintageVogue

MyVintageVogue

The history of 20th-century women’s fashion largely played out in the pages of magazines such as “Harper’s Ba… [read review or visit site]

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]

1960s Fashion and Textiles

1960s Fashion and Textiles

Put on your go-go boots and check out this wavy, groovy tribute to 1960s fashion and textiles, courtesy of the Vict… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Fashion Guild

Vintage Fashion Guild

While primarily designed to steer buyers to online vintage clothing shops, this blog is chock full of interesting, … [read review or visit site]

Fashion-Era

Fashion-Era

Bursting at the seams with content, this site contains hundreds of pages of fashion and costume history, including … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Michael Kors Arley 8 / 38eu Black Leather Logo Plate Knee High Heel Tall BootsJimmy Choo Black Patent Leather Espadrille Platform Wedge Heels Size 39Nwb 100%auth Christian Louboutin 2015 ''trotti" Lace 37 7 Shoes Heels Ret $1300Sexy Sexy Sexy Vintage Authentic Chanel Black & White Patent Heels Shoes Eu 38.5Auth Chanel Black Leather Pleated Elastic Cap Toe Heels Shoes Size 36.5 Us 6.5Giuseppe Zanotti Black Gold Heel Tall Black Leather Boots Size 36.5Christian Louboutin Gold Metallic Leather Peep Toe Stiletto Heel Shoes 37 / Us 7Christian Louboutin Black Satin Open Toe Heels (38.5)Christian Louboutin Black Suede Peep Toe Net Detail Heels Sz 39 9 In BagAuthentic Christian Louboutin Clownita 85mm Kid Open Toe Heels, Black, Size 39.5Jimmy Choo Nib Pearl Multi-colored Wedge High Heel Sandal Size 8 / 38Christian Louboutin Black Suede Leather T-strap Heels Size 38.5Acne Studios Pistol Black 36 6 Ankle Leather Zip Boots Wang Marant Rag Bone HeelValentino Limited All Black HeelsManolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather Perforated Mary Jane Heels Size 40Tory Burch Elina Ankle Boots 70mm Mid-heel Bootie Black Leather Size 11 $395Jimmy Choo Icons Black Shimmer Suede Leather Platform Ankle Strap Heels Sz 39.5Jimmy Choo Nib Pearl Multi-colored Wedge High Heel Sandal Size 7 / 37Nib Aquazzura Mayfair Suede/elaphe Black/green Heel 37 Rare Limited EditionGivenchy Metallic Black Perforated Leather Strappy Heels Size 39Stiletto Heel Boots Alexander Mcqueen Black Patent Leather Eu39 Uk6 Christian Louboutin Beige Mary Jane Espedrille Wedge Heels Size 37Christian Louboutin Black Platform Heels Size 10 Womens Shoe $1,095 NeimanmarcusYsl Yves Saint Laurent Black Leather Cap Toe Platform Heel Ankle Boots Size 37Valentino T Strap Kitten Heels 36 BlackDs 2014 Nike Air Revolution Sky High Hi Premium Qs Sample 7 Pink Dunk Wedge HeelAuthentic Suede Christian Louboutin Taupe Frill Highheels Platforms Heels 40Hermes Tan Leather & Gold-tone Hardware Open Toe Ankle Strap Heels Size 38.5Christian Louboutin Orange Patent Leather Heels Size 38 1/21940s Turquoise Pink Heel Shoes Bows Ernie Barrush Custom Swing EraChristian Louboutin Python Peep Toe Platform Heels/shoes Sz 37100% Authentic Christian Louboutin Tan/nude Assymetrical Slingback HeelYsl Saint Laurent Nib Classic Tribtoo 105 Nude Leather Suede Heels Sz 10, 40Ysl Saint Laurent Nib Tabita 105 Leather Mirrored Silver High Heels Size 10 / 40Authentic Christian Louboutin Espadrille 37 7 Brown Braided Wedge Heel Red SoleChristian Louboutin Black Classic Heels Sz 37Wonderful Pr. Edwardian White Leather High Heel Wedding Shoes High Button LaceKim Kardashian Manolo Blahnik Red Suede Heel Sz 37.5Chanel Black Patent Leather & Navy Blue Canvas Peep Toe Ankle Strap Heels Sz 39Gucci Patent Leather Mid Heel Knee High Boot Black Size 37, 7, 6.5 $1750Jimmy Choo High Heel Suede Sandals Super Classy It42/uk9/us11.5 £450 OriginallyAuth Christian Louboutin Gazolina Black Leather Thigh High Heel Boots Sz 40 10Authentic Chanel Chain Cc Logo Flats Black Leather Size 36.5 / 6-6.5 Chain HeelsLouis Vuitton Green Ostrich Bow Pointed Toe Low Heels Size 39.5Christian Louboutin Black Suede Round Toe Heel Ankle Boots Sz 40.5 10.5Lucchese Mens Handmade Classics Elephant Roper Walking Heel Boots Sz 12dYsl Saint Laurent Nib Classic Tribtoo 105 Nude Leather Suede Heels Sz 11, 41Rag & Bone Black Leather Strap Detailed Stacked Heel Ankle Boots Sz 39.5 9.5Alaia Black Leather Mid-calf Platform Heel Boots Size 38.5Christian Louboutin Snakeskin Clutch Red Interior Heels For Snap With CrystalsChristian Louboutin Heels 7.5Jessica Simpson High Heel Black Leather Abilene Alan Cowboy Boots Womans Sz 8Women's Tory Burch Black Wedge Peep Toe Heels Size 8 Stylish Flattering ComfyYsl Saint Laurent Nib Classic Tribtoo 105 Nude Leather Suede Heels Sz 10.5, 40.5Women's Brown Size 11 Frye Boots, Slouchy Medium Heel, LeatherChristian Louboutin Black Leather Pigalle High Heel Size 37.5 Auth Christian Louboutin Black Patent Leather Iowa Zeppa 120 Heels Sz 11.5Black Gucci HeelsManolo Blahnik Women's Light Brown Ostrich Leather Stiletto Heels Size 40.5 9.5Women's Christian Louboutin Rose Gold Metallic Bow Heels Size 39