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    

Superb Arollo Soft Leather High Heel Over Knee Thigh Crotch Boots 6 39 8.5 BnibLouis Vuitton Shadowplay Thigh Knee Boot Calf Suede Heels High Height PointyChristian Louboutin Open Toe Black Leather Party Shoes Heels Eu36.5uk3.5 Rrp@500Stunning Italian 1969 High Heel Pearl Patent Leather Knee Boots 5 38 7.5 BnibChristian Louboutin Let's Go Cristal Size 38.5 Mint Green Crystals Sequin HeelsAquazzura Black Suede Leather & Pink Snakeskin Open Toe Ankle Tie Heels Size 38Christian Louboutin Black Tan Kitten Heel Tall Cossack Boots Shoes 42 12 Nr RareGiuseppe Zanotti Women's Size 38 Velvet High Heels Shoes Black/goldChristan Louboutin Black Cage Heels Suede 42 10 10.5 11 $1695Stunning Office Essex Custom High Heel Over Knee Leather Thigh Boots 5 38 7.5Christian Louboutin Size 8 Black Leather Peep Toe High Heel ShoesFrye Jackie Womens Shoes Black Leather Button Riding Heel Boots 6.5 M $388Christian Louboutin Heels Red Bottoms Size 38 Or 7 1/2Manolo Blahnik Black Tungade Suede High-heel Ankle Boots $1055 Size 36.5Christian Louboutin Peep Toe Heels Jimmy Choo Lance Lang Silver Mirror Leather Strappy Sandals Heels Sz.36 $850Roger Vivier Dark Blue Suede Square Toe Buckle Slide Low Heels Sz 38.5 8.5Authentic Christian Louboutin Larissa Plato Suede Platform Heels 39.5 91/2 39 9Corso Como Women's Brown Leather High-heel Boots Sz 12mGiuseppe Zanotti For Balmain Taupe Open-toe Zippers Sandal Heels Shoes- Size 37 Classic Women's Black High Heel Christian Louboutin Shoes Size 10.5 / 41Old Gringo Ankle Western Leather Boots W Size 8.5 B,1 3/4" Heel Vintage BlueJimmy Choo Camila Braided Sandals Heels Woven Leather Neon Size 40 1/2Prada Women's Tall Leather Moro Brown Over-the-knee 4 1/2" Heel Boots Size 6Women's Born Brown Leather Boots Size 8.5 With Low (1 1/2in.) HeelMichael Kors Mk Hayley Tall Boot Heel/platform Black/luggage Brown Shoe Size 8$2250 Tom Ford Women Heel Shoes Sandal Exslusive Italian Hand Maid Euro Size 36 Hunter Womens Lapins Black Lace Up Knee High Heel Rain Boots Us Size 7Stunning Thigh Strap Patent High Heel Over Knee Leather Thigh Boots Uk 3.5 36 6Louis Vuitton W/ Box $3k Feerique White/silver Sandal Platform Heels 38/8 Rare!!Aquatalia By Marvin K. Black Suede Buckle Trim Low Heel Riding Boots Sz 38 8Authentic Gucci Mira Platform High Heel Strappy Opentoe Leather Sandals 38Authentic Christian Louboutin Pony Leopard Peep Slingback Heels 38.5 Us Size 7.5Christian Louboutin Pink Suede Fish Eye Heels Size 37Guiseppe Zanotti Black Suede Peep Toe Bootie Platform Front 5.5 Inch HeelChristian Louboutin HeelsFrye Veronica Slouch Dark Brown Leather Boots Women’s 9.5m Low Heel Msrp $328Valentino Shoes Navy Patent Rockstud Strapped Heels Size Us 6.5 ( Eu 37.5 )Ysl Yves Saint Laurent Classic Mid Heel Tribute Sandal Heel Red Powder Size 39,5Jimmy Choo HeelsChristian Louboutin Beige Leather High Heels/ Classics Women's Size 38.5 Us 8.5Alexander Wang X H&m Scuba High HeelsChristian Louboutin Black Leather Ankle Boots High Heel Size 39Prada S/s 2010 Runway Lucite Heels - 39 Eu 8.5 Us - Chanel Celine MargielaJimmy Choo Diffuse Metallic Leather Silver Lace-up Mirrored Strappy Heels 38Womens Frye Brown Leather Boots With Heel Fashion-mid-calf Size 8 Trendy WesternMiu Miu By Prada Shoes Broques Heels Size 38 Uk5 AuthenticChristian Louboutin Rolando 120 Kid Black Shoes Heels 38 (8)Valentino Clear Rock Stud Pointy Black Medium Stiletto Heels 39.5 $625 Jimmy Choo Women's Black Patent Leather Vamp Platform Heel Shoes Sz 36/5.5 ItalyChristian Louboutin Gold Metalic 150 Nappa Volpi Leather Heels Retails $945Christian Louboutin Black Silver Gold Peep Toe Heels Slingback Sz. 39Fiorentini Baker Black Low Heel Mid-calf Round Toe Leather Boots Sz 37 7Balenciaga Grey Leather Ankle Boots Booties Chelsea Style Flat Heel Uk 4 Eu 37~authentic~christian Dior Spring~round-toe Heel W/metal Cannage Detail~size 38~Prada Milano Heels Womens Size 6Louis Vuitton Designer Black Leather Slip On Heels 35. Us Size 5Genuine Grey Suede Frill Christian Louboutin Heels Sandals Platforms Size 40 Stuart Weitzman Black Satin Peep Toe Slingback Jeweled Heels Size 8 MIn Box Michael Michael Kors Coffee Suede Stacked Heels Regina Tall Boots Sz 7