Saskatchewan

Women should not be expected to wear high heels at work, shoe expert says

High heels are dangerous, according to Elizabeth Semmelhack, author of "Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe."

Joey's high heels policy in training session left woman's feet bloody

Boy’s heeled shoe, French or English, 1660s (Ron Wood )

Are high heels the professional shoe choice for women? The origin of the shoe might actually surprise you. 

The are dangerous and were originally a military shoe for men, according to Elizabeth Semmelhack, author of "Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe." 

"I understand that some employers want to ensure that a certain look is achieved by the people they hire, but I don't see how a high heel needs to be part of that," said Semmelhack. 

"The only job that actually requires high heels today is if you're a cowboy." 

Conversations around the safety of wearing a high-heeled shoe as part of a work uniform surfaced last week after an Edmonton woman posted photos of her bloody feet at work.

The woman worked in a restaurant where she was forced to wear high heels as a server. 

Persian riding shoe, early 17th century. (Ron Wood)

"European men were the first to wear high heels [for style]," said Semmelhack.

Before being worn in Europe, Semmelhack said military men in Persia were the first to don a high heel. 

Semmelhack said that she can see high heels going out of fashion, like they did for men. 

"With the popularity of sneakers and sneaker culture today, I could absolutely see a time where heels are sort of banished from fashion for a little bit," she said. 

With files from CBC Radio's Blue Sky

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now