High Heel Fashion in 1930 – Why Women Wear them

Sarcastic and funny article from 1930 –

Fashionable high heel shoes in 1930

Out for a walk the other day in Central Park I encountered a pretty young woman, throwing bread crumbs to a flock of pigeons.


She made a delightful picture. her fresh face was its own color instead of being violently rouged; her red lips free from artificial aids was anything but kiss proof; her eyes were clear with the brightness of youth; her figure slender and strong; a pair of shapely legs that would have fitted any hosiery advertisement.
When suddenly the demure vision was turned to one of horror.


She suddenly flung the last of her breadcrumbs to the birds and departed.
I wish I could spare you the sight that assaulted my eyes but the truth is necessary to the moral of this tale. She didn’t walk; she clumped. I might not have noticed this had she not been in a hurry. Perhaps she had an appointment. Anyhow, she walked very fast – or tried to; and she had not gone twenty steps before she began to run, or tried to.


There is no need to go into the painful details. With her sudden haste,gone was feminine grace that those hideous heels she wore were meant to give her. Her heels came down with sharp staccato clicks on the pavement. She ran stiff legged and stiff bodied, as a marionette might run. And every resounding thump with every clicking step jarred my brain.


Women in the past decade have successfully discarded the notion that that they cannot be beautiful without the restrictive corset, binding them up like some tortured animal.

Archive Film of 1930s Vintage shoe styles

Will the day ever come when this last citadel of fashionable distortion of the female body be razed, and will the day ever come when women will get over the notion that there is beauty to be achieved by wearing on the foot a leather harness designed expressively to throw it out of position, destroy its mechanical efficiency, cripple it in fact, and make it look from in front as much as possible like a horses hoof?


I went home exhausted.


Many of you may be familiar with the Greek myth of Atalanta, the kings daughter who was so swift of foot that she could outrun any man.


Some maker of fashionable high heeled, short vamped, narrow toed shoes for women ought to post that picture alongside a motion picture of a woman trying to walk acceptably in high heels !

The Womans Opinion on high heels


I discussed this subject with a good woman friend recently. She arrived in two inch heels. ” Oh I know that one’s foot should not be held in such a position, but what can we do? It’s the style. I don’t want to be queer; and you can say what you like, but a foot in a high-heeled shoe looks better than one in a low heeled shoe, whether it is comfortable or not”


“But you got rid of the corset,” I answered ” the bustles and rest of that ubsurd paraphernalia your grandmother swore by. Why don’t you finish the job and get rid of heels?”

“You actually mean,” she answered laughingly “that without heels you think there would be no craziness left in women’s clothes? Our high heels are for ornament”

” But,” I replied ” legitimate ornamentation does not fly in the face of nature. Women are crippled by the things, especially of they try and run. No inept clumsy thing can be considered beautiful”


” When a woman walks in high heels,” she came back at me “they are graceful, their curves accentuated, but running I will give you, is not sensible while in heels.”

” But heels disturb the healthy functioning of feet and of the whole body,” I declared.” Every known law of aesthetics and common sense forbids such a notion.”


“That may well be, “ my female friend replied, ” but I’ve worn reasonably high heels for years; and when I try and walk in shoes with low heels, such as men wear, I’m not comfortable.”

“How could expect to be?” I asked. “You wear a shoe that makes you stand and walk with your heel lifted, year after blessed year, high off the ground. That causes a shortening of the Achilles tendon, right over your heel, because you never use it and stretch it by walking normally.”


She smiled at me, straightened her skirt, got up gracefully ( I’ll admit), and after giving me a peck on the cheek walked away – in her high heels!
As usual this kind of argument with a woman comes to nothing. They think in herds, these fair creatures. Try walking down a high street with a girl. It will take some time as she stops and swoons at every window, and for some reason, mostly so when it is full of shoes !

But let me close with a heartening story. The very day after my disturbing experience in Central Park, with the ‘clacking’ heels girl, I beheld a young woman of similiar age and figure, swinging down Broadway with an open easy stride that drew many admiring glances from men and women alike. What interested me were her shoes. A simple pair of tan oxfords with a heel no higher than a mans shoe. I don’t know why the dozens of women who gazed after her, half envious perhaps of the grace with which she moved, could have failed to see that she wasn’t wearing high heels !

That’s all !
John Hayden – Physical Culture 1930


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