FOOTWEAR
Freak out in fashion footwear

The passion for fashion in females begins with teenage and continues through every stage of a woman's life until she reaches her seventies. Women are known for their interest in clothes, hair styles, make up and accessories such as clips, studs, scarves, purses and sandals. Especially when it comes to footwear, the fair sex irrespective of their age, seem to be in love with trendy sandals and cool keds and they are seen wanting to keep pace with the changing trends involving the latest patterns and designs in footwear. Younger women opt for sleek slip-ons and stilettos in designer and fancy stuff.Youngsters these days prefer to have several pairs of footwear suited for different occasions, namely formal wear, casual wear, party wear, adventure wear and so on.

When it comes to high heels, the choice of the height of the heel varies, reflecting the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’, ranging from teenage to old age. A study was carried out as a part of an extensive research on women's shoe market, revealing that the heel height worn by women begins to rise in the early teens, increasing rapidly from one inch (2.5cm) to an all-time high of 5.3 inches (13.5) cms by the age of 23.

The types of heels in fashion footwear can be categorized as under:

• cone: a round heel which is broad where it meets the sole of the shoe and noticeably narrower at the point of contact with the ground

• kitten: a short, slim heel with maximum height under 2 inches and diameter of no more than 0.4 inch at the point of contact with the ground

• prism: three flat sides which form a triangle at the point of contact with the ground

• spool: broad where it meets the sole and at the point of contact with the ground; noticeably narrower at the midpoint between the two

• stiletto: a tall, slim heel with minimum height of 2 inches and diameter of no more than 0.4 inch at the point of contact with the ground

• wedge: occupies the entire space under the arch and heel portions of the foot.

Then there are the Elevator shoes, also known as height increasing shoes or lift shoes. These are shoes that have thickened sections of the insoles (known as lifts) under the heels to make the wearer appear taller.An elevator shoe heel can be made from different soles like plastic, wood, or rubber. The name suggests not only that such a shoe elevates a wearer, but has even been taken to suggest that it can elevate a wearer over some others….remember the slogan in a popular ad, “Now YOU can be taller than SHE is."

Platform shoes are shoes, boots, or sandals with thick soles at least four inches in height, often made of cork, plastic, rubber, or wood (wooden-soled platform shoes are technically also clogs). They have been worn in various cultures since ancient times for fashion or for added height.

High heels tend to give the aesthetic illusion of longer, more slender and more toned legs. High-heels come in a wide variety of styles, and the heels are found in many different shapes, including stiletto, pump, block, tapered, blade and wedge.

In the high fashion circuit, a "low heel" is considered less than 2.5 inches (6 centimeters), while heels between 2.5 and 3.5 inches (8.5 cm) are considered "mid heels," and anything over that is considered a "high heel".

Although high heels are almost exclusively worn by girls and women, there are shoe designs worn by both genders that have elevated heels, including cowboy boots and cuban heels.

Although high heels originated in France as male footwear around 1500, since the late 1700s, men's shoes have had primarily low heels. A notable exception is cowboy boots, which continue to sport a taller riding heel. The two-inch Cuban heel features in many styles of men's boot, but was popularised by Beatle boots, famously worn by the English rock group, With The Beatles came the reintroduction of heels for men which continues to this day. There was also a brief resurgence in higher-heeled shoes for men in the 1970s. In Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta's character wears a Cuban heel in the opening sequence; the singer Prince is known to wear high heels, as also glam rock star Elton John.

The high heel has been a central battleground of sexual politics ever since the emergence of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Many second-wave feminists rejected what they regarded as constricting standards of female beauty, created for the subordination and objectifying of women and self-perpetuated by reproductive competition and women's own aesthetics. Some feminists argue that the high heels were designed to make women helpless and vulnerable, perpetuating the gender role of males as protectors of the slowly staggering women. High heels have also been blamed for reducing the woman into a sex object, by sacrificing practical comfort in favor of an alleged increase in sex appeal.

The stiletto of certain kinds of high-heels can damage some types of floors. Such damage can be prevented by heel protectors, also called covers, guards, or taps, which fit over the "stiletto" tips to keep them from direct, marring contact with delicate surfaces, such as linoleum (rotogravure) or urethane-varnished wooden floors. Heel protectors are widely used in ballroom dancing, as such dances are often held on wooden flooring. The bottom of most heels usually has a plastic or metal heel tip that wears away with use and can be easily replaced.

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