The shoes people wear.
For centuries, shoes have shown a great deal about the wearer. In Ancient Rome, the type of sandals worn by the soldiers showed their rank. During the reign of Louis XIV of France only red shoes could be used by the aristocracy at the King’s court. In the Middle Ages in Europe sandals were presented to the Pope as a sign of support between the Church and the State.
Today’s fashionable high heels are not a modern invention. High heels were first made in the Middle Ages. Streets were narrow and very dirty since people threw their rubbish out into the streets. To overcome the problem of walking through the rubbish, people wore high heels or platform shoes, both soon becoming quite common.
In China high-ranking ladies would have their feet bound to make them as small as possible. Small feet were considered to be a sign of great beauty. From a very early age, young girls would have their feet bound up tightly. As young ladies they would squeeze their feet into shoes that were only three or four inches long.
Shoes are mentioned in folk stories, old customs and traditions. Long ago, throwing an old shoe at someone was considered to be an ancient way of bringing someone good luck. After weddings guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom as they left their wedding. Later it was considered rather unclean so the old shoes were tied to carriages and later to cars instead. In Anglo-Saxon marriages, the bride’s father delivered her shoe to the bridegroom who touched the bride’s forehead with it to show he owned her.
Shoes also appear in many stories, fairy tales and songs. For Cinderella a small glass slipper led her to her Prince Charming, with a little help from her fairy godmother! In The Wizard of Oz, shoes carried Dorothy and her dog home along the Yellow Brick Road. And more recently, Elvis Presley sang about his Blue Suede Shoes.