Throughout history, shoes have taken on a number of different designs and appearances reflecting the aesthetics of the time and, on some occasions, even for practical considerations. The very first shoe was believed to have been fashioned in 8’000 BC and in the ten thousand years since then, there have been some incredibly bizarre designs; some from ancient cultures and some from today. From shoes that are impossible to walk into to those which have been crafted to hold the wearer’s broken foot into a permanently misshapen structure, here are some of the most bizarre shoes in history:
The Heel-Less Heel
Of the more bizarre designs of recent times the heel-lees shoe springs to mind. Popularised by the likes of Lucy Liu, Lucy Hale, and Victoria Beckham the design forces the wearer’s foot into the same upright angle as a pair of traditional heels but without providing the support the ankle needs thus placing all the strain on the balls of the wearer’s feet and their calves which could lead to permanent knees and spine damage if worn on a regular basis.
The Constant Pirouette
Another incredibly impractical modern design is the ballet boot which originated from fetish wear before branching out somewhat to more mainstream fashion. The boot is the most incredible high heel on the market which positions the wearer’s foot into a pirouette-like position permanently.
Again comfort and practicality were clearly not at the forefront of the designer’s, nor wearer’s, mind.
The Han Chinese had a tradition in which a woman’s feet were bound to become as small as humanly possible; as small in fact, like a lotus bud – the flower which gave the name to the shoe. These shoes were often made in “bow” shapes, an overly curved sole and heel in one shape, which was often held together at the heel and toe with additional leather.
Nearby, the Japanese invented a kind of proto-wedge named the Okobo. These 5 ½ inch pieces of wood, replete with a natural finish and no varnish, were carved hollow and are held to the feet with a piece of thonged cloth in a sandal-like fashion.
Unlike many shoes on this list, this shoe had the practical purpose of keeping long Kimonos off of the ground so as to avoid mud and potential tripping hazards.
These Lebanese shoes have taken the principle of raising the wearer off of the ground but are incredibly aesthetically unappealing and wieldy. The flat sole is held up by two long, several inches high stilts at the front and back of the shoe. As these shoes were often owned by rich women it was not uncommon to see a pair of these ludicrous-looking shoes embroidered or covered in pearls.
Occasionally they were worn for weddings during which time they would be covered in silver.
French Women’s Bridal Shoes
In the late 9th Century a pair of potentially the ugliest bridal shoes in history came into existence in the Bethmale Valley, France. These shoes, which were worn for many years after, took the basis of their design from clogs but featured a large piercing toe that extended skyward.
The higher the point reached upwards, it was said, the greater the man’s love for his lady was. As this was the case it was not unusual for the point to reach upwards of a foot from the front of the shoe.