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High heel shoes raise the heel of the wearer’s foot so that it is higher than the toes. Most commonly, high heels range from two to five inches in height. Because so much pressure is placed on the heel tip from walking, these often wear down or break and need replacing. Repairing a high-heeled shoe at home can save time and money. When the heel tip breaks off or becomes worn-down on a shoe, it can be fixed, and with proper care, will look and perform like it did new.
A History of High Heels
High heels have been around for a very long time. In ancient Egypt, most of the lower class walked barefoot. However, early murals that date back to 3,500 B.C. show upper class men and women donning footwear with high heels during ceremonies and special events. In ancient Greece and Rome, platform heels were worn, and actors used high heels to signify a higher social status.
In the Middle Ages, to protect expensive shoes from street filth, men and women wore a type of elevated shoe called pattens. In the 1400s in Turkey, chopines, another overshoe that resembled platform shoes, were invented and worn only by women. Chopines ranged in height from seven to thirty inches; not surprisingly, some wearers had to use canes or the help of an assistant to walk. Eventually, the Venetians made the chopines into a symbol of status: the higher the heel, the more power and wealth the woman possessed.
In the 1500s, high heels became more fashionable thanks to Catherine de Medici. At the age of 14 and at a height of less than five feet, she was engaged to the powerful Duke of Orleans. To make herself stand out from the duke’s favorite mistress, she began to wear two-inch high heels. This added height and style and also made her seem more powerful during her rule as the queen of the French court. Her fashion trend caught on, and heels became a sign of privilege. Those who were wealthy or had authority were referred to as being "well-heeled." And, by the late 1500s, both men and women wore high heels as fashion accessories.
In the early 1700s, the king of France, Louis XIV, wore high heels that had battle scenes painted on the heels. These were known as "Louis heels" and were five inches tall. Soon after his shoes appeared, knock-offs were made. To put a stop to this, high heel laws were passed that prevented anyone from owning heels taller than his; additionally, only nobility was allowed to wear red heels.
After the French Revolution, political leader Napoleon put an end to the Louis heel as he pushed for equality among
citizens. However, he was not successful for long, and when Marie Antoinette was taken to be executed, she wore two-inch high heels. In the 1790s, heel heights were lowered and a shorter wedge heel called the spring became popular. These looked like classical Roman sandals with ribbons to tie around the ankles. From then until the 1930s, there were four types of heels available: the spring, the stacked, the knock-on, and the Louis.
It was not until the 1920s that high heels became a fashion focus again. With women’s hemlines reaching new heights and daring fashions becoming the trend, high-heeled footwear became popular.
It was Christian Dior's partnership with shoe designer Roger Vivier in the 1950s that led to today's pointy-toed, thin and high stiletto heel. This style was extremely popular in the 1960s with the stiletto heel on tall boots and was often paired with mini-skirts. The 1970s introduced the platform shoe. High heels made a dramatic comeback in the 1980s and 90s, when designers brought high-heeled, trendy shoes to the catwalk, to Hollywood, and eventually, to the everyday female consumer.
Supplies for Replacing a Worn-Down Heel Tip
Replacing a worn-down heel tip is not difficult if the right supplies are available.
- Tack Hammer: This tool is a very lightweight hammer that is used for small and delicate projects. Its handle is about ten inches, and it has a rounded, small head. It is designed for pounding in small nails or tacks, such as into heel tips.
- File: This is used for evening out the heel tips if needed.
- Pliers: This hand tool has opposing jaws for gripping, bending, and cutting. Pliers are used to tightly grasp and take out the broken heel tip.
- Shoe Glue: Shoe glue is a special type of adhesive for footwear. It comes in various forms and ranges in price depending on the quality of the glue. It is best to use a quality glue to preserve the high heels that are being repaired. Shoe Goo is a popular adhesive on the market.
- Super Glue: Especially useful for quick high heel fixes, super glue is an extremely strong adhesive that can hold heavy weights for long periods of time.
- Shoe Nails: The original high heels have nails in them, so it is possible to reuse these when repairing. If these nails are bent or missing, new nails can be purchased.
- Rag: Used for cleaning up glue that might spill, a rag is smart to have on hand when repairing high heel tips.
- Plastic Heel Tip: To prevent new heel tips from wearing down quickly, consider covering with a clear, plastic heel tip.
Steps for Replacing a Worn-Down Heel Tip with Nails