But high heels actually began life as a men’s shoe. One theory says they were designed to help mounted soldiers keep their feet in the stirrups. Persians, the stories go, brought the innovation to Europe in the 15th century.
Since then, the shoes have been associated with male aristocracy (17th century), witchcraft (18th), female sex appeal (19th on) — and back, foot and calf injuries and strain.
They’re also tools for activists. Mostly men compete in Madrid Pride’s annual high-heel race (minimum height: 4 inches). And some U.S. cities host awareness-raising “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” high-heel events for men.