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


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