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10 Facts About the History of Shoes

10 Facts About the History of Shoes

I found myself at the mall the other day, just doing a bit of window shopping, when I passed by a shoe store. In the window display there were shoes of every type and color. I began wondering who makes all these fashions?  What dictates the styles that we wear? Shoes: we wear them daily and yet we know so little about the history of shoes.  Here are 10 random and some odd facts that I discovered about the history of shoes.

1. Classy shoes? Or just shoes that indicate your “class” in society?

In Ancient Egypt, slaves had no shoes or wore sandals made of palm leaves. The Commoner wore sandals made from papyrus. Those in higher status were allowed to wear pointed sandals. The colors red and yellow were reserved for the highest society only. It would be easy to see which status of society one belonged to by simply looking at the footwear they wore.

2. Ever hear the term “two left feet”?

It wasn’t until 1818, that the right shoe was invented. Until that time, there was no distinction between shoes made for left or right feet. The first pair of right and left footed shoes were made in Philadelphia. Obviously, shoes weren’t made for comfort up to this point.

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3. Wooden shoes

The wooden shoe that is often referred to as clogs were called klompens by the Dutch. Due to the fact that Holland is mostly below sea level, there are many marshy areas. The Dutch found that leather shoes would get wet and ruin easily, which is why they designed the wooden clog. Today it is still a popular tradition to wear these shoes, however they are never worn indoors. All the wooden shoes are lined up outside of one’s residence and only stocking feet are allowed in the home.

4. Shoe museum

The only shoe museum in North America is located in Toronto, Ontario. This museum showcases shoes spanning over 4,500 years. The Bata Shoe Museum has compiled exhibits by Sonja Bata.

5. Some shoes are just dangerous to wear

During the 16th Century, Aristocratic women began to wear shoes that were extremely high heeled. The heels on some of these shoes were so high that the women needed servants to help them walk. After this, stilt like shoes were invented and became the rave in Venice. Prostitutes wore these shoes and the height of the heels became so ridiculous that a law was enforced limiting the size of heels on women’s shoes. Women would fall to their death off of their shoes. Today, designer’s still like to make outrageous footwear.  Alexander McQueen, made a 10 inch heel, known as the Armadillo heels, to be worn in 2010 fashion show. Models refused to wear them because the danger they posed.

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    6. You will wear these shoes!  It’s the law

    Monarchs typically dictated the types of fashionable shoes that would and would not be worn. There are of course usually reasons behind their madness: In England, Henry VIII made wide-tied shoes popular. He made a law that shoes were to be 6 inches wide—the reason supposedly was to cover his gout-stricken feet. Louis XIV,also known as The Sun’s King, was only 5 foot 5 inches. Due to his short stature, he made high heeled shoes popular and mandatory for men.

    7. Wedding shoes

    Some odd traditions surrounding weddings and shoes include:

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    • In Hungary the groom drinks a toast to the bride out of her wedding shoe.
    • In China, one of the bride’s shoes is tossed from the roof. The shoe must be red and this gives the couple good luck in the marriage.
    • In the Middle Ages, the father and the groom-to-be would have a shoe ceremony. The father would then give the man authority over his daughter. At the wedding, the bride would put the shoe on to show she was now the groom’s possession.

    8. I can’t find my boots

    “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is the famous quote by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The boots that he wore when he took the first steps on the moon are now floating in space somewhere. His boots were discarded before coming back to Earth for fear of contamination.

    9. The most expensive shoes ever

    Some people will pay a lot of money to have a pair of shoes that they want. The most expensive pair sold for $660,000 US Dollars. They were the Ruby Slippers, worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz. The ruby slippers were sold at an auction on June 2, 2000.

    10. Brilliant marketing

    Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son, was the man who came up with the term “sneaker.”  This was a brilliant marketing idea for the newly invented rubber soled shoes.  He said that the rubber soles made the shoes “stealth” like so he termed them sneakers. The first sneakers were Keds and they were invented in 1917. Sneakers went international in 1923 when a German man made a sneaker and named it after himself. The sneaker is Adidas, named after Adi Dassler. This brand has been the world’s largest seller of athletic shoes.  Adidas, became famous after Jessie Owens won 4 Gold Medals, while wearing Adidas, during the 1936 Olympics.

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    There are so many interesting facts about shoes and their history.  Hope you enjoyed the random facts I shared.  I wrote this “solely” out of my own interests. Sorry, I had to “sneak” a pun in there!

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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