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

The VFG is a non-profit international educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of vinta… [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    

Dsquared2 Laced-up Embellished HeelsYves Saint Laurent Men Boots Cuban Heel Sz 44Sophia Webster Fire Bird Sandal Size 40 HeelBnib Valentino Rockstud Strappy Sandal Heels Black Leather Sz 38/8Giuseppe Zanotti Design 7555 Womens Red Satin Embellished Heels Sandals 8.5 Bhfo$1495 Nib Giuseppe Zanotti Coline Siutta Camoscio Nero Black Sandal Heel 40 9.5Chanel Black Patent Leather Block Heel Chelsea Ankle Boots Size 38 8Jimmy Choo Lang Strappy Sandal Size 39 Pink Patent Leather Stiletto Heel Christian Louboutin Bianca 140 Platform Black Patent Leather Heels 40 9.5 9Dior J'adior Blush Pink/nude Kitten Heel, 37 6.5, NwobWomen's Christian Louboutin Pale Gold Specchio Follies Stiletto Heels Size 37Helmut Lang Vintage Archival Stocking Top Thigh High Heels Shoes Boots 38~ Christian Louboutin Mayerling Two Tone Blue & Neon Lace Up Sandals Heels ~ 38Gianmarco Lorenzi Size 37 (7) Pointed Toe High Heels Leather Knee Boots 780euroAlexandre Birman Clarita Ankle Tie Sandals Heels 39.5 (8 1/2-9) Celebrity ShoesChristian Louboutin Leather Over The Knee Boot, 5 1/2 Inch Stiletto Heel. Sz7/37Louis Vuitton Monogram Ocean Denim Sandal Wedge Sandal Heels 37 7.5 7 Chanel Size 38 Black Patent Leather Open Toe Heels Silver Cc HeelsProenza Schouler Grommet Black Leather Heels Mules Shoes Sz 38Sophia Webster Swaw15139 Rosa Size 40m Heels Never Been Worn!!Auth $1050$ Christian Louboutin Heels Size 40 10 Us Beige Lady Peep Christian Louboutin 40.5 Peep Toe Heel 150mmGucci Claudie Horsebit Blue Patent Leather Block Platform Sandal Heel 40 9.5 9 Chanel Cc Logo Caged Patent Leather Ankle Booties Heels 38 7.5 7 Christian Louboutin Red Suede Size 40 HeelsStuart Weitzman Alex Navy Blue Crochet Espadrille Wedge Heel Sandal Sz 7.5Valentino Garavani Rockstud Shoes Ankle Strap Heels 37Giuseppe Zanotti High Heel Stiletto Sandal Modena Alien Red Size 9/39Fluevog Mini Masarek Leather Blue Lime Trim Mary Jane Heel Women's 9 Fits 8Manolo Blahnik Navy Blue Suede Ankle Strap Stiletto Sandal Heels Size 38 8Alexander Wang Ankle Sandals Heels Abby Black Leather Sz 36Aquazzura Wild Thing Low Heels Black Suede Sandals Shoes Sz 38Valentino Black Leather & Sequin Ankle Block Heels Size 37.5Valentino Triple Big Bow Snakeskin Ankle Strap Platform Sandal Heels 39.5 9.5 9 Gianfranco Rossi Black Clear Leather Plastic Slip On High Slim Heel Sandals 36.5See By Chloe (sz 38) Black Lace-up & Zip Military-combat-fem Wedge-heels BootsFluevog Kitschy Kitschy Boom Boom Liz Double Buckle Mary Jane Heel Women's 11Cesare Paciotti Women's Size 8.5 Eu 40 Black Suede Stiletto Heels Shoes X1-1661Royal Blue Christian Louboutin Open Toe Sling Back Heels Shoes Dansko "riki" Dress Heels Brown 41 Rare!Fluevog Heels Shoe 10 Kitschy Viv Brown & Blue Exc Cond - Worn OnceChristian Louboutin Black Leather Ankle Strap Heels Size 37Valentino Nude Leather Rockstud Gold Stiletto Heel 38.5Prada Sport Black Leather Platform Wedge Heel Sandals Size 38 8$400 Stuart Weitzman Women's Nudistsong Nude Size 6.5 Strappy Heels ShoesJimmy Choo Beige Brown Suede Fringed Leather Turquoise Stone Sandal Heel Shoe 9Christian Louboutin Slingback Sparkly Heels Size 7.5Authentic Fendi Heels Size 40 Pre-ownedChloe Womens Taupe Leather Buckle Heel Boots Eur 39.5/Chie Mihara 39 High Heel Sandals Tan And BronzeFiorentini And Baker Black Leather Slip On High Block Heel Ankle Boots Size 38Ysl Shoes Metallic Silver Leather Yves Saint Laurent Cage Sandals Heels Sz 38 8Size 38 (7.5) Christian Louboutin Heels!!!Tory Burch Womans' High-heel Sandal Navy Sea/emerald StoneSalvatore Ferragamo 'glory' Black Patent Slip On Kitten Heel Sandal Size 6 BBrian Atwood Blue Suede Slip On High Wedge Heel Open Toe Espadrilles Size 37Maison Martin Margiela Black Leather Slip On High Wedge Heel Sandals Size 36.5Maryam Nassir Zadeh Clear Plastic Slip On High Wedge Heel Open Toe Sandals 37Louis Vuitton Sandals,heels, Size 39Celine Black Pony Hair Ankle Boots With Silver Metallic Heels Size 8.5 (38.5)