The pointed shoe for women continues to enjoy vogue in women’s fashion but has not come without controversy. The foot/shoe police were quick to vocalise their condemnation with forecasts of foot doom and deformity to all who dare wear them. Problem is there is no evidence to support these claims. Certainly discomfort may result when anyone wears tighter clothing that is comfortable. Hazards do also await the foot challenged who squeeze their feet into a triangular shaped shoes smaller than their feet, but as a shoe design, pointed shoes do not present real harm to feet. Provided feet and shoes are physically compatible and worn for short periods then no real harm can come to the wearer.
So why do pointed shoes come in for such criticism?
As a podologist I study the foot in health as well as disease and have become fascinated with the psycho-social aspects of shoe design. There are only seven basic shoe types and fashion is made from the innumerable combinations of these styles. The origins of pointed shoes are quite simple to locate and were worn in biblical times. Historians believe the style then had more to do with poor shoemaking than style per se but people who wore peaked sandals were considered ‘free spirited’. The fashion for long toed shoes became an obsession for men in the Middle Ages and lasted 400 years. For just under half a millennium, the size of men's shoes got longer and longer until they were 24 inches longer than the foot. Poulaines or beaks were thought to be used as sex toys in courtly love and have been associated with promiscuity ever since. As a style it did not reappear until 1960s with the sexual revolution. Winkle pickers along with the stiletto heels were loved by the youth of the day and met a tirade of warnings and foreboding from the (medical) establishment. Today there is no epidemiological evidence to show the Bulge (sixties generation) have more deformed feet because of their fleeting association with pointed shoes.
So why the fuss?
The medicalisation of feet and shoes is a metaphor which represents a moral backlash against promiscuity. Pointed shoe styles and high heels have become stereotypically associated with Jezebels, and appear to many misogynists as sartorial pornography. What made this all the more real was the recent pointed shoe fashion was a female phenomenon, whereas in the sixties, it affected both genders. Now power dressing for women has arrived.