King Louis XIV Wore High Heels: Why?

If you go back to the ‘olden’ days of kings and queens like King Louis XIV, you can find that the world appears almost entirely different. The language, culture, and fashion are all at total odds with what we would be used to today. If you were to step out of a time machine in the era of King Louis XIV, you might wonder what is going on. For example, did you know that King Louis XIV himself wore high heels?

Photo: Alyssa Hurley/Unsplash

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a man wearing high heels. In an era where gender fluidity and personal choice would have been far more repressed, though, it is a surprise indeed to find a thought leader of the era dressing in heels. The fashion norms for males and females of the era, though, are different from what you might expect.

We often assume that society was barbaric and crude and that things have only improved as time has gone on. History shows us, though, that effeminate acts such as wearing heels were common for males back in the day. Indeed, in the time of King Louis XIV, heels were not seen as a gendered footwear option at all. It was common for men to wear high heels.

Soldiers typically wore high-heel style shoes, too, believing that it helped them to better grip the stirrups of their horses. This would mean that with secure feet they could focus more on riding into battle and swinging their weapon(s) around as opposed to using thought power to keep their feet secure.

Photo: Johnson Martin/Unsplash

Essentially, the high heels of King Louis XIV’s time can probably be more equated to a pair of cowboy boots. The upper classes wore such footwear regularly, too, and it was seen as a status symbol of wealth and power. If you were wearing heels, you did not toil in the fields during the day.

So, when you look at imagery from this period, it is easy to equate a question of what someone is wearing with how we would dress today. Options were different then, though, and many of the options chosen for personal attire were a mix of fashion, showing your upper-class credentials, and functionality.