Most Bizarre Shoes in History

Shoes date back to the 8,000s BC – a very long history, indeed. Over the millennia all manner of styles and materials have been used for shoes. Some successful (the modern athletic shoe) and some not successful at all (lotus shoes). This list looks at ten bizarre styles of shoe from early to modern history.


Long before the 1970′s and the platform shoes, Japanese maiko (apprentice geisha) had been wearing Okobo sandals or clogs. The reason for wearing these very high platform shoes was not solely for fashion, but also for very practical reasons. If you are wearing a very expensive kimono that hangs all the way to your feet, you do not want to get mud on it when you walk outside. Okobo are made of one piece of solid wood forming the sole. Usually the wood has a very natural finish, or no varnish at all. But during the summer, maiko will wear black lacquered Okobo. The hight of Okobo shoes generally measures at 5 1/2 inches (14 cm), and the wood sole is carved hollow, giving them a very distinctive sound when one walks in them. In fact, the word Okobo is an onomatopoeia, that is it represents the sound of walking in them. A V-shaped thong of cloth forms the upper part of the sandal. The color of the cloth depends on the status of the maiko. For instance, a new maiko will wear red, while one who has nearly finished her apprenticeship will wear yellow.

Men’s high heels

Shoes and stockings became very important for men in the 1700′s, when the tailored coat and breeches came into fashion and the focus shifted to the lower body. Suddenly, it was all about the shapely legs, and men wanted to wear flattering, fanciful hose and shoes to accentuate them. Louis XIV also had a thing for high heels with red soles and heels. It must have been tough being short in stature but lofty in power, so I guess he thought he would even it up a bit. Of course, what the king does, everyone else copies, so everyone who was anyone wore high heels with red soles and heels. After all, what would be more proper to wear with Petticoat breeches, than high-heeled shoes? Boots went completely out of style in favor of these new elegant heels, now elaborately decorated with ribbons, rosettes or buckles.