Back in the 16th century, a woman showed her status with the height of her highly-impractical platform shoes. In Italy, however, it wasn’t fashionable to show off your chopines, as the columnar platform shoes from the Renaissance were known. The higher the platform, the more fabric was needed for the dresses of upper-class women and courtesans so the skirt lengths wouldn’t be too short — therefore, the longer the dress, the wealthier the family. During the same period in Spain, women were all about showing off their decked-out footwear. Flashy, overly-decorated shoes peeked out from under the skirts of wealthy Spanish women.
In both countries, really high platform shoes were a way to show off one’s servants as well. A 16th-century woman needed at least two servants to maneuver around in her high chopines, but a little help from a man was also acceptable. This predicament is the reason men offer their hand to a woman today. The fashion of chopines died out in the 17th century, after explorers found new routes from Europe to the East, making Venice less important. The high-heel then became the footwear of choice for the wealthy and has remained so for women across economic levels. Interesting, huh? [Reuters]