Tag Archives: clogs

Fashion & Health: Footwear Fallout

I’ve heard it said that women wear high heels because men invented them. Or that it’s a man’s design for women. This could partly be true, that the high heel was designed by a man, but whether women wear it for a man or for themselves is open to debate. Face it, if a woman was the shoe’s inventor would she make only sensible shoes (probably designed by men too) or would she make flattering and sexy shoes? I think she would make the latter but there would be some women to make the former as well.

When we get down to it, people will often wear sexy, interesting and beautiful things. The Baroque period of the 18th century saw men in heels as much as women. Heels came about first for fitting the shoe/boot into a stirrup and holding it there. And there were pattens, wooden clogs to slip one’s shoe into, for protection from the wet and inclement elements. These went to ridiculous heights in Italy and there are drawings of women being supported by two assistants as they walk around in teetering towers of wood.

The 20th century certainly saw its share of high heels. There were heels right from the begining of the century and slowly they rose through the decades. The 30s and 40s saw high shoes with small platforms. Then along came the true platform shoes, reminiscent of the pattens of the Renaissance. And we also had the stiletto heel, very thin with a very pointy toe. These heels could put holes in floors with the pounds per square inch of pressure. And they were pretty unstable for supporting a person’s weight. But they were considered sexy.

Women and men have been wearing the affectations of fashion for a very long time. And I was no exception. I started wearing high heels when I was in art college. I wore them to dress up and to work in. I worked at Sears and often had to wear dresses, so therefore I wore the heels to go with them. That would often encompass four-eight hours of standing on hard floors in heels. I remember going home at night and taking off my shoes, and rubbing my feet on the carpet because they itched and burned so much from the pressure.

I continued to wear high heels, developing a callous thick enough to resist all but the sharpest implements. And then one year, in the stupidity of my youth, I walked downtown in high heels because the buses were on strike. I walked home barefoot but developed blood blisters under the callouses, which made them slough off.

I grew a little wiser over the years, no longer standing for hours or walking miles in high heels. But the damage had been done. I’m not a podiatrist but pretty much what the high heels did was cause the bones to drop or shift in the ball of my foot and crush the nerves, which resulted in pain, cramps and numbness. I believe it is plantar fascitis and the cramping can be supremely painful. Lucky for me, I didn’t develop bunions, another side effect to wearing tight or pointy shoes, but it can also come from other causes.

Along the way, wearing flat shoes, I managed to experience pain as if someone was hammering on my heels. My ankles swelled up like balloons and took a week to come down. That was the beginning of heel spurs, which I don’t believe had any genesis in high heels or not.

So these days, yes, I wear orthotics but I’ve been having problems with the new ones (now a year or two old) not quite working for my right foot. My podiatrist moves the pad around and we keep trying. I still wear shoes with high heels. Not as high as they once were and I plan. If I’m going out for dinner or some other function where I will be sitting mostly, I’ll wear them but not if I have to stand as my feet can’t take them. So, if you’re planning on wearing shoes with mega heels, consider now when and where, and protect your feet for the future.

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The Evolution of Fashion to Antifashion

The 14th century hood with a modest liripipe (tail). From medievaldesign.com

Fashion changes and often goes through anti-fashion. In the middle ages a popular piece of clothing was the hood (your first medieval hoodie). It came with dagged edges in a variety of shapes like scallops, fleur de lys, pointed, etc. And it came with different lengths of liripipe or the tail off the back of the hood. The hood was first worn as you would expect, where it was pulled over the head, the face peeking through the opening, the tail hanging down the back or sometimes wrapped around the neck as a windbreak.

But as the essential fashion progressed, the young guys would take the hood and

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The hood got tossed on its side and the liripipe was lengthened. From: medievalenterprises.com

place the opening on the top of the head, flopping the dags to one side and wrapping the liripipe around the head to hold it all in place. A rakish hat, to be sure. This exhibits how fashion has always been created to serve a purpose and then it may become more decorative or serve a different purpose than what was first intended. Some fashion was dictated by climate, some by what the rulers were wearing, such as the high forehead of Queen Elizabeth I (caused by a syphilitic dad) but popular with the women who may have plucked their hair to give them high foreheads.

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One way not to lose your baggy pants, suspenders. Sexy. Uh yeah, sure. Creative Commons: Signature9

Sometimes fashion goes so far afield that it is only popular with a small group, notable for its bizarre look but not catching on with the majority. I would consider the overly large pants, with crotches to the knees that young guys wear. The style has adapted so these pants that still look like you’re a 12-year-old who stole his grandfather’s pants have a smaller waist. Often, they’re worn overly loose so they hang halfway down a guy’s butt, showing off his underwear. I’ve seen some ludicrous reaches of this unfashionable fashion. One was the kid whose pants were hanging under his butt cheeks. The other was a guy in a tight tank top/wifebeater and pants worn low with about six inches of his waist-high, bright red underwear showing. It wasn’t sexy at all.

The good thing about the baggy ass fashion is that it’s popular with the skateboard crowd, which has eschewed yoga pants and lycra, and gives the liberty of movement. The other good thing is, you know if a guy is wearing pants like that, he’s not likely to rob a store because he’d have to run holding his pants up.

Plumber crack fashionsare just never good. The lower pants also came in for women, but more formfitting and displaying pierced

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The Backtacular Gluteal Cleft Shield to hide the butt crack. Really? Just…don’t.

navels, and sometimes hipbones. Thong underwear seems to go hand in hand but showing the T-bar at the back over a butt crack is still not attractive. There is about one percent of the population of either gender who might be able to get away with this. Presume you’re not that one.

Another really silly style is the platform, high heel runners (tennis shoes) or the heelless ones. But then one could argue that all high heels are silly, even though we (men and women) have been wearing them for about four hundred years or more. Chopins of the Renaissance were really clogs to put your shoes into for walking in the muck. They got to ridiculous heights of twelve or more inches and required an attendant on each side to keep the person upright. Conspicuous consumption? You bet.

This made me think back to what my friends and I wore as teenagers. Bell bottom jeans that were overly long. Some people hemmed them but having frayed and full of holes was an acceptable look. T-shirts. I had one that said Panama Red before I knew what that was and my friend had one with Bugs Bunny on it. We obviously wore these often enough that my nickname became Panama and hers Bugsy. Completing our lovely ensembles were lumberjack shirts, as we called them (sometimes known as mac or mackinaw) and they were a thick flanneled cotton in red and black or black and green plaid. They were the jacket of choice before we got jean jackets.

I know my mother didn’t like this fashion and thought jeans were something worn for working on the farm, but we were within our teenage realm. Not everyone wore what my friends wore but there were enough of us that we probably formed our own antifashion. Fashion will continue to come and go and go through its antithesis of anti-fashion. I’m sure at some point in our lives, every one of us shakes their heads at what people are wearing.

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