Shoes. We all have them, and we all need them – even if it would be more comfortable to go to work each day barefoot. (OK, maybe not such a great idea if you work on a construction crew).
We also have different feelings about shoes: Some of us see them as a necessity while placing little importance on style, while some of us can’t wait to buy that new pair that will scream style and good taste. Some of us have a closet full of them while some of us own only what we absolutely need.
No matter what our attitude and affinity we might have for them, shoes have always played an important role in life. They’re also one of the mankind’s oldest inventions and have a history that’s rich with tradition, meaning, style and amazing creativity.
And even those of us who place greater importance on shoes than others, it’s a history filled with facts that we probably had no clue about. So, sit back, put your feet up (clean shoes only on the furniture, please) and consider these facts about shoes:
1. Shoes and Weddings
Back in the day, weddings weren’t weddings unless they had a ‘shoe ceremony’. In the Middle Ages, the father of the bride symbolically handed over authority of his daughter by giving a shoe to the groom, who then passed it on to the bride to show that she was now his subject.
The shoe ceremony is still represented today, without the heavy meaning of authority and subjugation, of course. Instead, shoes are tied to the back of the bride and groom’s car and left to bounce along the pavement as the newlyweds speed off to a life of happiness.
2. Most Coveted Shoes
When it comes to iconic shoes, a good place to start is Judy Garland’s Ruby Red Slipper from the ‘Wizard of Oz’. Five pairs of the magical slippers were made for the movie, and four still remain – including one that was stolen from a museum in Minnesota honoring Garland.
In 2012, a pair of these slippers sold for $2 million at auction. Now that’s something to click your heels at.
3. How About Those Heels?
If you were part of the upper class in 17th century Europe, then you just had to have six-inch heels.
Definitely made for style more than comfort, they required the wearer to have servants on either side to keep from toppling over.
4. Shoes In Your Dreams
Note, this is not shoes of your dreams, but actual dreams you have about shoes. Yes, dreaming about shoes has been analyzed, and it says something about who we are and our approach to life. It may not involve actual facts about shoes, but it’s worth visiting.
According to dreammoods.com, wearing shoes in your dreams suggests that your are ‘well-grounded or down to earth.’ If you see new shoes in your dream, it could mean that you’re overconfident in your success.
To find a lost pair of shoes in a dream suggests that your back on the right path again.
Here’s another one to consider: If you’re wearing the wrong shoes for the occasion, it suggests that your progress and path in life will be long, difficult and laborious. Or, it could suggest that you’re heading in the wrong direction.
So, perhaps the moral is that you should always wear the most appropriate shoes for the occasion – even in your dreams.
5. Speaking of Weddings
In Hungary, grooms drink a celebratory toast from their bride’s wedding slipper. Here’s to good foot hygiene.
6. Dressed For Every Occasion
Marie Antoinette, the ever-stylish Queen of France in the 18th century, was said to have 500 pairs of shoes. Moreover, she wore a pair of high heels to her execution on October 16, 1793.
That may be a bit much. Here is a list of shoes every woman should have in her arsenal.
7. Speaking of Large Collections
While Marie Antoinette’s shoe collection was certainly impressive, it wouldn’t stack up to that of Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady of the Philippines. Marcos was said to have a collection of over 3,000 shoes.
On a side note, Mrs. Marcos also had over 500 gowns and over 1,000 handbags. Not exactly facts about shoes, but worth knowing nonetheless.
On another side note, the fetish of collecting high-heeled footwear is called Altocalciphilia.
8. Average Collections
Speaking of facts about shoes, the average American woman owns 30 pairs of shoes and spends about $300 on footwear every year. Also, 60% of them regret at least one of their shoe purchases.
9. Measuring Up
To say that measuring shoe size has come a long way would be an understatement. The first method was established in Britain in the 1300s by King Edward IV.
The good king’s method? Barleycorns, of course. The king declared that three barleycorns equaled one inch, thus creating a standard for sizing.
Meanwhile, did you know that your shoe size can change during your adult life? That’s because feet flatten out. Meaning the length and width could change.
10. More Than Just The Science Guy
Bill Nye the Science Guy has made himself one of the most popular and recognizable scientists on the planet thanks to his nerdy-but-cool television show.
When it comes to facts about shoes, however, there’s a spot reserved for The Science Guy. That’s because he’s developed a ballet slipper that helps protect the dancers’ feet from the rigors of their craft.
11. Lost And Gone Forever
No list concerning facts about shoes would be complete without something about outer space footwear. That said, did you know that the boots that U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong wore to walk on the moon are somewhere floating around in space?
Why? Because Armstrong discarded them after his moonwalk for fear of contamination.
12. Knowing Right From Left
Until 1818, there was no such thing as a right or left shoe. What you saw is what you got. If somebody said you had ‘two left feet,’ perhaps they meant it literally.
13. The Ladies Of The Night
Let’s face it, extravagant footwear and prostitution go at least somewhat hand-in-hand. In Renaissance-era Venice, prostitutes walked (and we use the term loosely) around in 30-inch heels. In fact, high heels are almost considered part of the trade.
However, heels served a more practical purpose for prostitutes in the glory days of Rome. With heels, these ladies could leave messages in the sand for potential customers.